Being a Florist at Valentines is Tougher Than You Think

Feb 09, 2014


I’ve been in the flower business for many years and, even though I’m not directly on the retail side of things anymore, I still get a lot of comments from acquaintances each year as Valentines Day approaches. 

Stuff like “must be nice to be in the flower business right now” and “well you must be doing well this month”, etc. People think about buying flowers, maybe see higher prices, and think that every February every florist has it made. I get it.
But trust me - the flower business is not much fun at Valentines, and not nearly as profitable as you might think. In fact the whole thing is more about keeping customers happy under difficult conditions than making a killing, and many florists I know wish they could just close for the month if it didn't mean disappointing their customers.
Sure every business owner like to be busy but Valentines borders on being too much of a good thing. It is madness. I can remember our having to start each workday day the entire week of Valentines at 5AM, and the actual day itself at 4AM.
The money part isn’t what people outside the industry might think either. Yes - some flowers are more expensive on Valentines, and it is easy to assume that the florist is simply gouging you.
I promise you - that is not the case. In 20+ years in this business I have never once seen a florist that grew their own roses. Florist have to buy your Valentines roses from wholesalers and or growers… and even though they might be in other countries thousands of miles away they know what is going on and raise their prices. If your florists charges more at Valentines it is only because they have to cover their costs.
Does that make the growers the villain? No. Many of them are barely breaking even all year and Valentines is their one chance to actually make a small profit.
Those higher wholesale prices are part of what makes Valentines so scary for retail florists. Because of the increased demand on February 14 most shops will rarely (if ever) have more product in their stores than they do this week. And it will never cost them more.
Florists are sitting on the biggest and most expensive inventory they ever have to deal with and it is scary.
Florists in the North have it even worse. Winter weather brings with it a terrifying degree of uncertainty. Bad roads could mean that the flowers never even make it to the shop, arrive late (not enough time to prepare them) or frozen (dead & unusable).
If the flowers do get there the weather still presents serious challenges. Bad roads on Valentines can make deliveries difficult if not impossible, and walk-in business can stop entirely. And there is no making it up - nobody is interested in roses on February 15. No matter how it seems this really isn’t the best time of year to be a florist.
Of course it isn’t all about the florist. This isn’t the best time of year to be buying flowers either. Here are some tips that can make things better:
  • Order in advance. Well in advance. If you want to order flowers around Valentines try and do it the first week of February or, better yet, the last week of January.
  • Consider delivery (or pickup) on dates other than February 14th. Maybe you could send the flowers on February 12th or 13th and explain that you are just so in love that you couldn’t wait?
  • Consider different colors of roses. Red is traditional but roses come in other amazing and beautiful colors. Don’t limit yourself to red. And don’t get too hung up on the “meaning” of different colors. I have seen countless charts explaining what each color meant and they often contradicted each other. On the other had I have rarely seen anyone outside of high school that cared all that much about analyzing the “meaning” most adults are just thrilled to get flowers. 
  • Consider different types of flowers. Roses are traditional but there are others, possibly even more beautiful and interesting, that you should consider. This is another advantage of ordering early – your florist will have time to work with you and help you select something perfect.
One last tip (and this is by far the most important). If you are one of those people (don’t feel judged, there are lists of them out there, some of my best friends included) that only ever send flowers on one or more of the following: birthday, anniversary, Mother’s Day and Valentines… try sending on some other, completely random, day.
If you think someone you love is happy when they get flowers for a reason just wait and see how happy they will be when they get flowers for no reason at all!

Category: Buying Flowers

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