Buying Local…Foraging Local

Written by Christopher Grigas

It’s winter…a guy walks in to a flowers shop….It’s me, Christopher Grigas. I look around and see lovely peach Alstroemeria, magenta micro Pomps, ivory Hydrangea, purple Dutch Tulips in clear cellophane bunches, Slender & spiky Bird of Paradise, a scatter of Charlotte Red Roses and white Carnations in a pair of buckets beside the register counter, flawless Lime-green Fuji Mums…..and of course a nightmarish cloud of half-dried-out Gypsophila on the work table that I can barely see in the back room. I’m too familiar with this scene…and so are you. Old school floral shop stuck in time. The truth is, it’s not the flower shop itself that makes me tense…it’s the flowers. All Imports, all the time.

Flower shops are too often mistaken for grocery store florists…..Remember, we were the original florists and as professionals, we must stand out and keep ourselves unique to others…But how?

Modest floral selections need intrigue and interest…this is when local product and foraging can give your shop the edge over others. Picture this…A guy walk up to a flower shop door and before he enters…he notices a bramble of fresh rosehips arching over the entryway…(how pretty), he thinks. As he enters the shop, he is greeted by a slender glass vase of peach Alstroemeria atop a thigh high moss-laden stump. Blue Hydrangea stems stand erect beside silver Pussy Willow whips in a row of wine bottles along the front display window. Purple Dutch Tulips and freshly packed snowballs are randomly arranged in an oversized shallow glass bowl on a round table in the center of the shop….captured from above by a bright spot light. At the register, a stunning Calamondin Orange Tree specimen from the local farmer’s market accessorized with curly chunks of white Birch bark. I can’t decide what I want…but I know I am not leaving without something. It’s winter, and like our customers, I need a floral fix.

Cross merchandising with both imported and local/foraged product creates natural appeal and highlights a more organic and authentically natural feeling. As simple as rose hips, natural wood stumps, pussy willow, snowballs and a fruiting indoor tree can turn an “old school” flower shop into an integrated oasis of stylized flora. Remember, if you arrive at the shop in the morning and you feel bored or uninspired, your customers will be bored and uninspired, too.

A few final words…find local floral growers, local farmers markets, and keep an eye out for creative uses for naturally growing indigenous flora in your area. Think botanically, act locally.