With Thanksgiving and Christmas having come and gone for another year, I continue to be astounded at the poor quality of cut flowers that appear during the holidays at various retail businesses around town.  Sometimes it is apparent that the flowers arrived at their destination in less than perfect form.  The display wasn’t there the day before, and it is full of flowers, yet the flowers are past their prime, with flowers fully open with brown petals around the edges, and flowers with creased and crushed petals.
Other times it is obvious that the flowers have been there  a while.  The water is brown, the flowers are wilted and half of them are basically dead.  But there they are, still next to the register at CVS or Home Depot,  in a Thanksgiving style sleeve, two weeks after Thanksgiving.  No one at the store notices, or cares that the flowers should have been trashed a week ago.  This scene is repeated all over the country during all the “Flower Holidays.”   

Our biggest “Flower Holiday” of the year is fast approaching. Valentine’s Day is when possibly millions of people will make their only flower purchase of the year.  As growers and sellers of cut flowers, it is our obligation to make sure that every customer gets more value with their flower purchase than they expect to receive when they place their orders.  This is the best way to get a “once a year” customer to be a repeat customer throughout the year.  If the floral business was half as busy the rest of the year as it is for Valentine’s Day, we wouldn’t be able to handle to increase in business. What a great problem that would be.

I’m asking everyone in the floral business—from the grower, importer, wholesaler, grocery store,  retail florist to the farmers’ market seller—to please strive to have the best possible quality cut flowers in your business. Don’t deliver inferior products.  If you see flowers in your cooler that are poor quality, trash them.  When you see dead flowers on display at a box store or local grocery store, let the manager know that those flowers should be removed from the  sales floor.  If you found moldy bread or spoiled meat at the store, you would let them know.  As people in the cut flower business, we are quality control for places that may not have cut flower freshness at the top of their list of priorities.

The floral business has changed dramatically in the past twenty years.  The retail florist is no longer the only place to get flowers. The traditional retail florist makes deliveries and does weddings and funerals.  Everyday flower purchases are made at the grocery store, farmers’ market, or even Home Depot.  And the Internet seems to be adding more buying options every time you turn on the computer.  Along with more ways to buy cut flowers, there should be an increase in the number of floral buyers.  Unless these customers get top quality products, they won’t be customers for long.

I’ve said it before, and will repeat it again. Sometimes the best place for a cut flower is the trash can or compost bin.  Maybe we all need to make a few more trips to the trash can. Then, in the long run we can make more trips to the bank with the increase in business that comes with selling the best quality products possible.

I wish everyone a great 2008.