Flowers + Holland + Beyond

Flower Shop

I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to visit the Netherlands with Joost, the owner of Florabundance–particularly for all the behind-the-scenes access and days filled with flowers. First, the time spent at IFTF (International Floriculture Trade Fair), a convention center filled with rows and rows of beautiful flowers and products, and the representatives of various breeders and farms willing to
work hard to show their gorgeous products. A visit to De Ruiter where I got to see how roses are bred: to think that it can take up to 8 YEARS to produce a rose for market! A visit to Aalsmeer and Holex to see all the people involved in selling, buying and shipping all these blooms around the world. THE
WORLD. I met Pim, an amazing designer whose creative mind goes a million miles a minute.

It is simply amazing to think how many people are involved in every step of the floral industry: the breeders, the farmers, the airlines and shipping companies, the mind-blowing Aalsmeer auction operation, and the wholesale houses around the world. And, finally, you and your customers! (Makes you realize exactly *why* flowers are so expensive…!)

And that’s the segue way into the tangent this post is about to take, so consider yourself warned!

When I walk into a grocery store and see a dozen roses for sale for $9.99 I wonder HOW?! That rose has been touched by how many people? It saddens me to think how people don’t understand or appreciate the work behind those 12 roses. It saddens me even more to think that people believe those roses are only worth $9.99 and don’t see the value in visiting their neighborhood florists and paying a little extra to support a person’s dreams and livelihood. Joost and I met a designer at Cultra who told us she had to close down her retail space because it was no longer sustainable. She now works on flowers from her home and seemed very thankful for the change. I also met a florist in London who told me she’ll be closing her shop at the end of December and moving her business home as she can no longer keep up with her bills. The sadness and frustration in her eyes was painful to see.

This is why I write Flirty Fleurs. I love this industry and I’m amazed every single day by the extremely hard-working people behind all of these flowers. When I see someone whose dream and drive for very little financial return is exhausting them, it pains me beyond belief.

Since coming back from Europe I have been perusing the Internet for more designers to feature for the series “Fabulous Florist”. What I’ve found is a surprising number of blog posts from people saying they have closed their studio or will be limiting the amount of weddings they take. Right here in Denver I can think of at least four businesses that have called it quits after this last season. It really makes me wonder about the future of our industry, where is it going and will it survive?

I recommend reading these stories, I found them all to be interesting:
disconnect from Ghosty Dreams and Flower Things
Update by Thallo
unearthing from Floret Flower Farm

Related posts:


  1. I’ve seen the same trend in closing down, here in Sweden. Some people (who isn’t in the business) say “Good for you, less competition”. Then I just want to scream at them “Are you stupid? The industry is dying!” I agree with you and I’m concerned about the future …

  2. If floral customers only knew the many many hands it takes to get a flower to market! Then, once we buy them, they need even more care. That care at the experienced floral designers hand is a big determining factor in the final life of the flowers.
    Thanks for the links, love reading about others soul-searching and knowing others are in a state of change, some looking to cut back and re-group. Others like me, looking for ways to grow.

  3. Bare Mtn Farm says:

    From our perspective as a very tiny niche flower grower, we face the same problems of competing with supermarket prices. Customers feel that our flowers should be much cheaper than the supermarket because we have no overhead; this is not true. We have large costs of energy for trucks, heating and cooling; irrigation costs and infrastructure costs of building and maintaining greenhouses, hoop houses and other means of bringing flowers to the market as close to year round as possible. We also have the costs of seeds, bulbs, packaging and handling of our cut flowers. We also face a huge risk factor of not having a product because of weather damage, animal or insect damage or just a crop failure. 3000 dutch iris bulbs that grow but fail to bloom this year is just one example. We love our business and our work and we work very long hard hours year round bringing a high quality product to our customer with a price that truly reflects the cost of bringing in the flower. The supermarket prices reflect the high end wines, coffee, cheese and etc. that off-set the cost of their flowers. I apologize for being too preachy and long winded but we small growers are passionate about our flowers and please encourage people to buy local from local growers, florists and local designers. Buying local and as seasonal as possible will hopefully help keep this business alive. Thank you for your wonderful blog.

  4. Because I’m a floral tech geek this is what I see when it comes to eCommerce from the farm, wholesaler and florist: The floral industry looks at their website or eCommerce site as an extension to their retail shop. BUT I think this is a pitfall and their online site should be viewed as a separate business model.

    Farms, wholesalers and retailers who run their sites as such either fail or aren’t taking full advantage of the potential. Our shop gets excel spread sheets each week from farms/brokers and I think WOW, they are missing out on SO much of the marketing part and a better added service to their clients. BUT I do not fault the broker, farmer, retailer, etc… because an online business is a different model than the one they’re used to… they must evolve and think of it as ‘starting a new business’ if they’re going to succeed online, rather than think their site is an extension of their B&M/Farm business. Like I have always said, Evolve or Die.

    A good example of savvy online business advise falling on deaf ears: More people use a mobile device than their desktop computer to go online and it grows by the millions each year. Mobile commerce is growing faster and faster. This year black Friday did over 1 billion in sales. I yell this at the top of my lungs and all I get back from the industry is crickets. It breaks my heart and frustrates me to see the little guy fall, but you must evolve or you will go out of business.

    Sorry to sound like a Debbie downer but in this day and age it’s ALL about action, not reaction.