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Is your Florist overcharging you?

The short answer to this commonly believed myth is that it's not likely at all to be true.

If you'd prefer to keep believing that your florist is rolling in cash that they've gained from pulling flowers from their yard and slapping a premium price tag on, it's probably best not to read on.

However, if you'd like to gain a comprehensive insight of what it takes to get expertly arranged, lasting cut flowers to your home and how that determines their price, I welcome you to stay with me for the duration of this article. I'll describe the surprisingly involved process that happens in the back end of our industry in the hope that it will offer a different perspective on the price of flowers, ideally making space for a more compassionate view of those who supply beautiful blooms to the world.

Let's start by taking a step back and looking at what it takes to get flowers grown in quantities to provide enough for the public at large to enjoy as this is the first step of assigning a price value.

Flower growers sometimes grow from seed and often "plugs" which are basically seedlings that are considerably more reliable than seed, albeit more expensive. From these, plants are grown requiring water, fertilisers, sometimes pesticides and occasionally growing lights along with humans tending them for a wage. There are times when growers need to push their crops for accelerated blooming according to high demand which of course increases the associated costs.

In the floral supply chain there are growers that distribute their own product and wholesalers that buy from growers to distribute to florists.

Buying from growers can be, but is not always, cheaper in a wholesale context.

Buying from wholesale distributors involves our suppliers receiving, unpacking, assigning, conditioning and displaying fresh stock along with administration, customer service and more. Most of this can happen in the very early hours with it being common for our hardworking suppliers to start work at unappealing times such as 2am, when we'd all rather be tucked up in bed asleep. Of course, nobody expects them to do this for free, which logically tells us cost is involved.

Now we reach the stage of the flower moving process where the florists get involved.

From as early as 5am florists are on the move, racing to buy fresh flowers and foliage and get them ready for consumers before their businesses commence trade for the day.

After receiving stock, materials are unwrapped, picked over & cleaned up, cut, conditioned, arranged for display. Buckets and vases are scrubbed and sterilised, floors swept and orders sorted for the day and this is just what happens before the business doors open. Throughout the day, arrangements are made at high speed in a shifting order of priority, customers served, emails answered and phone calls taken plus anything else the day throws at them.

Just to reiterate the theme of this article, all of the above costs money.

As flowers are a perishable and fragile product, unfortunately there is a constant loss from both breakages and wastage in flowers thrown away that are past a healthy selling point. In Adelaide's winter flower sales plummet which brings another financial strain on our flower shops.

In peak trade times, think Mother's Day and Valentine's Day, the volume of sales increases dramatically but so does the wholesale cost of flowers which can cut into profit margins of the retailer. Also let's be realistic, 2 good days of accelerated trade in a year is not enough to allow any business to profiteer off their customers.

If we compare florists business models to any others in terms of assigning prices it's not so different in the way that labour and cost of materials both have significant bearing on the end price to consumers. I invite you to consider trades, personal services such as hair & beauty, even food, clothing and most other things that we buy. Labour is always factored in as a requirement for providing goods and services and that simply comes down to the unavoidable fact that people must be paid for their work in order to survive. Isn't that fair?

When all of these factors are taken in consideration, it's remarkable really that we are able to purchase fresh flowers without having to resort to taking out a loan and honestly, this comes down to florists working for a considerably lower wage than comparable labourers. That, my friends, is love.

In summary, I will never try to convince you that flowers aren't expensive - they are. From the birth of a seedling through to the delivery of a beautiful arrangement of flowers, the stakes and costs are high. All I ask from you is that the next time you feel tempted to squeeze your florist for a lower price, perhaps you might think twice, knowing that they are already doing their very best to look after you while balancing their books and bringing a bit more joy into the world through the expression of emotions that is embedded in the gifting of flowers. And next time you have fresh flowers please enjoy them knowing that a series of small miracles were quietly performed in order for you to receive the benefits of being around the best that nature has to offer.

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