Everything Old is New Again

In celebration of 75 years of GrowerTalks, the folks at Ball Publishing’s GrowerTalks have reprinted articles, photos and other tidbits from past issues. Two recently caught my eye.

The piece on this page was written by Vic Ball (son of Ball Seed founder George J. Ball) in 1949. He exhorts flower sellers to “doll up” their cut flowers with a cellophane sleeve, and for that extra touch—“another angle”, as he calls it—include a card in each sleeve, listing the grower name and the flower cultivar.

Today growers spend time creating attractive marketing packages. Customized sleeves can be printed with the producer’s logo and contact information. Flowers sold at grocery stores are accompanied by photos of the farmers who grow them, and their children helping harvest them.  Farmers’ market vendors add colored tissue paper and wrap those sleeves in matching raffia. Today we call that “added value”. To Vic Ball it was common sense.

Describing what may have been an early form of a flower subscription service, Carl Ball reported in 1951 that a florist was delivering “seasonal surplus flowers” to his customers for $1.00. The writer called this an example of “efforts to cultivate the use of flowers in the home, pulling some of the emphasis off the ‘feast or famine’, special occasions type of business.” See this piece on page 33.

Sounds a lot like current, and past, floral industry programs designed to promote everyday purchase and use of cut flowers and other plants, to the American consumer. This flower seller created a one-man game plan. Without the internet.

In 2012, ASCFG members use online forums to discuss charges for delivery to florists, weddings and events, and their own established subscription services. Rates are a bit higher than $1.00 per trip, but growers are still looking for ways to make their flowers as relevant to buyers as possible.

Fritz Bahr, in what many growers consider the first bible for floriculture, his Commercial Floriculture, wrote “I am convinced that the future of the florist business rests entirely in our own hands. In no other part of the world is there a better chance to develop this industry than here, or a better market.”

These are the same thoughts expressed in virtually every issue of every horticulture and floriculture periodical – and online message – which crosses my desk (and computer monitor). The good news is that ASCFG members are undoubtedly up to these tasks.

GrowerTalks, October 1949
“Try Cellophane Flower Wrapping
By Vic Ball

On the competitive wholesale markets of our day, the grower’s problem is always to present his stock to the buyer looking just a shade more “buyable” than the next fellow’s. Of course, good growing, good varieties are 99% of the battle. But you’d be surprised how much a 1c [sic] sheet of Cellophane can doll up a bunch of Snaps, Stocks, or Pomps. Stems, flower size, general quality being equal, you can be sure the Cellophane wrapped stock will sell out before that not wrapped—or wrapped in paper. It looks nice, and it reflects that little added care on the part of the grower to get his stock to the user in better shape. … Another angle—you can put a little 3 x 5 inch slip inside the Cellophane so it will show thru [sic]. This can be an attractively printed label giving the grower’s name, the variety.”