I have been working in the floral industry for over 16 years and there is one disturbing trend
that cannot be denied; supermarkets are killing the local flower shop. Look around your
hometown to see how many locally owned flower shops have survived on the main streets of
your town and I bet you’ll see what I mean.
Flowers on display at the grocery store—you know, the ones right near the checkout line or
intermixed with the produce department—have depreciated the value of fresh cut flowers
with their poor representation of what “fresh” flowers look like. First, flowers require specific
care to ensure their maximum vase-life and in many cases the staff at the grocery store is not
properly trained to do this. The result: flowers don’t stand a chance of blooming to their full
Second, flowers and fruits share the same hormone, ethylene gas, which causes them to ripen
so when flowers are intermingled with fruits they force each other to mature and consequently
die more quickly. This is further evidence that the grocery store has no idea how to properly
care for fresh flowers. Keep this in mind the next time you wonder why those roses you just
bought yesterday at the supermarket immediately wilted at the neck. It’s not the flower’s fault;
it never had a chance.
Third, the grocery store makes money on the food and other products you buy and they
intentionally take a loss on the per-stem price. Obviously this is a business model that’s
designed to undercut the real cost and hence devalues flowers in the consumer’s eye. I have
seen flowers on sale at the supermarket for less than they cost through my wholesaler!
This is why flowers in a flower shop seem so much more expensive than they do at the
supermarket: First, they order in specific inventory that they/their customers like. This
includes more than the alstroemeria, roses, baby’s breath and artificially died stems that
the grocery store stocks. Second, their experienced staff takes the time to unpack & inspect
stems, clean foliage & remove thorns, properly hydrate each stem, and display them in a cooler
ensuring a longer vase-life than the neglected blooms at the checkout line. Finally, the reason
that flowers cost a little more at a flower shop is because it’s their business! They have to make
money on the flowers or they will close their doors. They specialize in flowers—they don’t
have a deli counter or junk food aisle after all!—so taking a loss on every stem is simply not an
So skip the flowers at the supermarket and visit your local mom-and-pop flower shop. Taking
the time to walk into a flower shop and choose specific blooms is far more thoughtful than
grabbing a cookie-cutter bouquet from the checkout.
When is the last time you bought fresh flowers?