Chris Grigas is uBloom’s Horticulture Expert and currently resides in Schenectady, NY. Chris holds a B.T. Degree in Plant Science/Horticulture from State University of New York at Cobleskill and is employed at Hidden Gardens in Saratoga Springs, NY.
Spreading the wealth between your vendors and being sure they work for you
Every florist relies on their vendors to provide the flowers they need to fulfill orders. Often those vendors are known for carrying or growing the most incredible product and holding the corner on the market for a particular flower. One very successful flower vendor that is a great example is Rosa Floral. Almost all vendors are carrying Rosa Flora Gerbera now, due to the quality, reliability and selection they offer. Although the prices are a bit higher, you get what you pay for…as we all know. On the flip side, there are vendors who corner the market on specialty cut flowers they grow simply because nobody else grows them or the flower ships poorly. Mostly these vendors are smaller farms that offer unique varieties, unusual flowers and botanicals. They may offer specialty cut flowers like Tweedia, Dahlias and Chocolate Cosmos. Be sure you keep records of the flowers that they offer and the seasons they are available. Offering to guarantee a standing order with them if they are willing to grow your favorites is a great way to build a strong vendor relationship.
It is nearly impossible to run a shop with a single flower vendor. Buying your shop flowers from multiple vendors helps boost the industry and keeps the vendors happy, but you must always be sure they know that they work for you. Don’t be a pushover. Savvy florists spend time shopping around for the correct flowers and competitive prices, especially in large event work. Vendors want to sell flowers to shops…and they will negotiate pricing and often give advice on the best flowers for your job. I was stumped when the pictured event was approaching and my client insisted on Casa Blanca Lillies, which are practically unavailable now. I shopped around for comparable white lilies and was informed of the gorgeous Oriental “Santander” Lily. I took the time to buy a few bunches and create a sample design for my client. Once I made the decision to use that particular lily, I called around to my larger vendors who would be able to provide such a large quantity and negotiated a great price and grade of flower. There is nothing wrong with being demanding and letting your vendors know that you understand the difference between premium and subpar flowers as well as high and low grade flowers. Demanding premium flowers is your job and will only benefit you and your vendors. It is much more beneficial to let a vendor know the flowers are unacceptable so they can correct it and understand that your standards are high for future reference.
Though I have been called a flower snob, as many of you are… I feel I am misunderstood. The fact is, we are educated and experienced, therefore demand premium products does not make us snobs… it makes us professionals.