Ask The Consumerists: These Flowers Just Need To Chill

Billy’s wife owns a small flower shop near Austin, Texas. The shop’s floral cooler broke down recently. They can’t afford a new one, and can’t find a used one for sale in the area. A misunderstanding when taking out an insurance policy means that the business’s insurance won’t cover the cooler malfunction.

Without a place to keep the flowers fresh and cool in the summer heat, they might as well close down the shop—but who wants to do that?

Billy writes:

We had a couple of days off from working in the flower shop and came back to find that the floral cooler had stopped working. The cooler still powers on, but doesn’t cool. We not only lost the cooler, but several hundred dollars of flowers. I had a refrigeration guy look at it, but the cooler doesn’t have service ports and they can’t hook gauges to it. I’ve tried calling other people, but they want $200 just to look at it and tell me it needs service ports.

I thought that our business insurance would cover all of the loss. We had a great insurance policy a few years ago that would cover any and all loss, but they cancelled it based on someone (my wife’s a$$hole brother) calling them saying we didn’t own the business. We ended up getting another policy thru another company that was supposed to be the same, but it isn’t. I spoke to the adjuster today and they only cover the cooler if it is damaged based on a natural disaster. There isn’t too many times that we will have a wind or rain storm inside the building, so the only other disasters would be lightning or fire. We had neither and now we have no cooler and no business.

We have a huge wedding that will keep us going thru the slow summer, but nowhere or nothing to store the flowers in. I’m emailing you guys to see if anyone in the Austin / Central Texas area has a floral cooler or two that they aren’t using and want to sell. I’ve tried Craigslist and the Austin newspaper, but no luck so far. We have to find something within the next week or face closing the business for good. We can’t afford a new one, so finding an inexpensive used one is priority. I wouldn’t mind paying someone to look at it, but not for the price that I can buy a used one for.

Any ideas for the shop, Consumerists? Sources for used coolers, repair ideas, or alternative flower-chilling ideas would be much appreciated.

(Photo: matsuyuki)

Comments

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  1. FLConsumer says:

    How cold of a temperature are you needing for the flowers? I’ve seen flower kiosks in other countries where a small window AC was used to keep the enclosure cool enough.

    Adding service ports to a refer shouldn’t be any trouble for a good refrigeration tech. They make piercing ports that just clamp right on the lines. I’ve seen them used on everything from a mini-frige to a kegerator.

  2. labeled says:

    As a quick stopgap, what would stop them from using refrigerators – just plain old maytags/frigidaires on freecycle or craigslist?

    • crashfrog says:

      @labeled: They may get too cold. They’re not trying to freeze the flowers, just keep them cooler than a hot, wilting Texas summer.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @crashfrog: How low can you turn down fridges though? I’m pretty sure at their lowest setting, they can be good substitutes until the OP can get a real flower cooler.

      • labeled says:

        @crashfrog: I was guessing it had to do with humidity, as even older fridges at least have a dial to turn all the way down. (Cripes, they’re in TX, go to any Allsups and put your flowers in their coolers – damn things are NEVER cold.)

    • MustyBuckets says:

      @labeled: The same way you can turn a minifridge into a wine cooler, you can regulate the temperature in any fridge – with an appliance timer to make sure the unit doesn’t run too long.

      From a appliance guy’s standpoint, you just need to make sure you give it 30 minutes of ‘off’ before you let it go back on.

  3. pjstevens77 says:

    Gas up the uhaul and scour ebay for ones like this:

    [cgi.ebay.com]

  4. pjstevens77 says:

    Here’s one in TN, couple days drive you’ll be back in business!

    [cgi.ebay.com]

  5. Bladefist says:

    I am into home brewing and this guy took a small room, bought some cheap insulation, temp controller, and a room AC, and holds this walk in cooler at 38 degrees.

    Apparently very cheaply as well.

    [www.homebrewtalk.com]

    • ClutchDude says:

      @Bladefist: Was just about to pipe in with HBT.com. For a 200-300 bucks, you can rig it up with a temp controller and get any desired temp. Not the most efficient, but that’s not what you’re looking for at right now.

      • ClutchDude says:

        @ClutchDude: Forgot to add that, with the right insulation, you should be able to do ANY size cooler That guy in the link did a great insulation job. Feel free to run over there and post if you need any help. We’re a nice bunch.

  6. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Hmm… I have no idea what kind of technology goes into cooling flowers, but from what I’ve seen at various floral shops and stores, isn’t it simply that a certain temperature has to be maintained? If this is the case, can you look for industrial fridges and simply turn the temperature to suit the cooling you need?

    I understand that sometimes it’s the light that is necessary, but maybe there are ways to either keep the inside fridge light on or simply put a battery-operated light in the fridge? Again, I’m not an expert, so I have no idea if this is even feasible, and I might just sound crazy.

    Depending on the amount of flowers you have, what about a wine cooler? Are there any wine coolers/fridges you can find on the cheap that can hold you over and keep you from having to close down your business?

    Have you had any luck looking in other areas of Texas? I know Dallas and Austin aren’t too close, but if someone else is selling a flower cooler somewhere else, it might be worth renting that box truck to get it.

    I see this right off the bat: [dallas.craigslist.org]

    I don’t know if it’s suitable for your needs, but if you haven’t looked in surrounding areas you could drive to, it could help.

  7. menty666 says:

    How cold and for how long?
    Dry ice for a day or three,
    Barter a deal with the local supermarket for some walk in space.
    Call the closest beverage distributer to see if they have any older coolers they can rent to you.
    Portable ac units are a couple hundred from the hardware store.

  8. edwardso says:

    one of the stores I used to shop at had frequent cooler problems. They worked out a deal with a neighboring store to keep product in their cooler temporarily. it might help to negotiate with other small businesses in the area until you can get it worked out

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @edwardso: That’s a great idea…if the OP happens to be in a very friendly area in which he has made a lot of connections with other small businesses, this might be good. Even if they offered to rent space in another floral shop, it gives that floral shop some money, and they establish a partnership.

  9. xkevin says:

    Sounds like you can’t afford to not have a cooler as opposed to not being able to afford the cooler. There’s a significance between the two…

  10. razremytuxbuddy says:

    This is similar to an episode of Northern Exposure. Maurice couldn’t heat his greenhouse, which meant his orchids would die. He asked everyone in the town to come and take an orchid home to keep it alive. The townspeople showed up and each walked away with an orchid to care for.

    Seriously though, I’m self-employed with my own small business that has been just hanging on through these times, so I’ll be pulling for these shop owners to find the solution they need to keep their business going.

  11. infinitemonkeys says:

    I would consider using dry ice. In CA, they now offer it at most grocery stores. Not sure if that’s a national phenom, but in any event there should be some vendor with dry ice available. It is fairly cheap and, since it’s much colder than water-ice, it is very effective. I had my refrigerator break down and it was three days before I could get it repaired. Dry ice held me over easily.

    Good luck!

  12. newlywed says:

    have you looked into talking with a school (elementary, high) whose students are out for the summer? thy have awesome refrigerators that are probably empty since no kids to feed…

  13. shepd says:

    Just a little note with the dry ice suggestions: Dry ice is solid CO2. That means if you have a sealed room with it, it will push out the oxygen and people in the room will die from asphyxiation. I expect the plants will love it, assuming they don’t also need any oxygen…

    If you are careful, though, it will be safe. Just consider that while you use it you don’t want to go in there alone. Do a buddy system, with the buddy outside make sure nothing is going wrong.

    And don’t sue me. These aren’t suggestions, just hypothetical ideas.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @shepd: I believe plants do need oxygen. They take oxygen in the air and process it, and release carbon dioxide.

      • DoubleBaconVeggieBurger says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: Nope, plants take in CO2 and release oxygen. No clue if plants are OK in a CO2-only environment though.

      • pandroid says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: You’re thinking of people. Plants take carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen.

      • jeteplumererie says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: actually, in photosynthesis plants take in CO2 to make glucose and release O2. Some plant owners actually pipe CO@ into the greenhouses to stimulate plant growth.

      • pete says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: Actually they do the opposite.
        [en.wikipedia.org]

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          @pete: I sit corrected! I think I just misread it, cause I typed in a few search terms and my mind crossed wires.

          4th grade science has failed me!

        • pete says:

          @pete: But not to be a douche- at night, when there is no sun to drive photosynthesis, plants do consume a little oxygen and produce a little CO2 during their cellular respiration.
          That must be what you meant ;)
          (See mom! That bio degree finally came in handy!

          • wardawg says:

            @pete: I learned that when researching for my fish tank, you need to keep it aerated at night because the bacteria in the tank use oxygen that the fish need.

          • synergy says:

            @pete: At least I’m not the only one who thought. ^5 for another bio degree holder! :D

            • menty666 says:

              @synergy: Don’t be foolish people! The CO2 won’t kill the people, the overfed, super mutant race of roses will kill the people!

              I’ve said too much…they’re coming. Tell the world! arrrgh…

              (sorry, couldn’t resist….it is a good point :) )

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: No.. plants are the other way around.. thats why plants like it when you talk to them… they like your CO2.

      • Anonymous says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: Thought I’d chime in here. To quote Willy Wonka, “Strike that; reverse it.” Plants take carbon dioxide out of the air and generate oxygen with it, along with other organic compounds, using the energy from sunlight (photosynthesis). Just thought I’d throw that out there. Biology teacher for a mother, FTW.

  14. Landru says:

    I would call other florists and ask if they could help out. (An example of why networking is a good idea, even if you think you might never use it. You never know).

    Also, personally, I would sawzall a hole in the side of the unit and get one of those apartment standalone a/c’s and stick it inside.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I know Greenworks florists in Houston just shut down their 1100 Louisiana st location and it had a cooler. Maybe they will sell for cheap. 713-224-0777

  16. fdx3k1 says:

    I don’t think you can just use an air conditioner because it wouldn’t be cold enough to keep the flowers cold.
    I know that the difference between flower coolers and food service coolers is that the floral coolers stay at a constant 35 degrees. The thermostat is set that way because it is the perfect temp for flowers.
    I think that they are asking for help because finding a used one of those types of coolers is pretty hard. I worked for a restaurant supply place and we sold them for $3800 new. We never had used ones because people would sell them to other flower shops before selling to us.
    We did have our service people go out and put service ports on units and it normally ran around $300. If their compressor is out, then it is another $1200 for parts and labor. When replacing the compressor you have to sometimes replace the lines and thermostat, depending on the age of the unit. I think that is why this person is asking for help. It seems that they can’t really afford much right now and are just trying to find someone with an extra cooler that they are willing to sell. My neighbor used to be a florist and said that the summer time is death for them. No one buys flowers unless it is a wedding or funeral.
    I would love to help them, but I don’t have any contacts in the business anymore. I think fixing it might help them, but only if someone was willing to work for cheap…or maybe ask them to barter for flowers.
    I just looked on Craigslist (using craizedlist) and everyone wants too much money or is selling something that needs work. That walk in cooler in Dallas does seem like a good deal, but if it uses R12 then it would cost them a few hundred to recharge…plus moving it down to Austin and paying someone to assemble.
    I feel bad for them because I too have had a business go under because my equipment failed and could afford more equipment. Had a carpet cleaning business and my pump failed and we had only been doing it for 3 months..had not made enough money yet. Lost my shirt in that business.

  17. Anonymous says:

    This sounds like your current Insurance Agent dropped the ball and did not offer you the correct insurance. If you brought a copy of your old polciy in and asked the agent to replace it with like coverages then you may have be able to file an E&O claim against the agent.

    The Insurance Agent is a lincensed professional advising and selling coverages to you. If you expected to purchase similar coverage and described your risk to the agent it was there job to secure adequte coverage. If the agent made recomendations and you declined to purchase the recomenede limits then you might be out of luck but if you bought what they recomended you may have a valid E&O claim.

    Insurance agents typically care at least $1,000,000 in E&O coverage in case the agency staff make a mistake that results in an uncovered loss when coverage was available.

  18. christoj879 says:

    CoolBot – I’ve always wanted one. With some modification to your existing cooler, you can use a window AC unit.

    [www.storeitcold.com]

  19. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Okay I just got off the phone with a flower shop. Flowers need to be kept at about 38 to 39 degrees. Humidity isn’t so much of a problem as long as the flowers are kept in proper temperature and there’s enough space for all of them. What the coolers really do is keep the flowers fresh, and halt the bloom process for some of the flowers so you can delay the days it takes to bloom and time the blooming for when you need it. This can be anywhere from two days (that you need delayed) or ten days for slightly more exotic flowers. So the OP, I’d say, needs fridges (if the wedding is their only client right now) for anywhere from one day to twenty days, because they need to get the flowers in and then arrange them.

    If they’re looking to help the flowers they already have in their stock, they might just have to see about whatever method they can cool their flowers at, and wait until they have the money for a flower cooler.

  20. zentex says:

    I had a refrigeration guy look at it, but the cooler doesn’t have service ports and they can’t hook gauges to it

    Call someone else, dude is incompetent or just doesn’t wanna do the work.

    There are these nifty things you can buy for like $5 each that allow you to ‘tap’ into the lines so you can service it.

    A LOT of small window air conditioners and some large commercial appliances don’t have service ports because it costs too much (really?) or they figure by the time it craps out you will have bought a new one.

    There is very few things that you cannot make your own service taps on.

    /mydadisanHVACguyandhasbeenteachingmeallheknowsforthelast20years

    • zentex says:

      @zentex: “/mydadisanHVACguyandhasbeenteachingmeallh…20years”

      that was me trying to say that my dad, being an HVAC guy, has been hammering into my head for 20 years how to do what he does. I inadvertently payed too much attention and learned a thing or three and could get certified if I didn’t already own my own biz…He enjoys the free help when he needs it. :P

  21. bobert says:

    Austin is less than two hours from San Antonio, and about three hours from both Dallas and Houston. All three of those are in the top 10 US cities by population, and Dallas-Fort Worth and metro Houston are in the top 10 metropolitan areas.

    There are all kinds of dealers of used floral, refrigeration, and general industrial equipment in and around those cities, so if I were Billy and his wife, I’d do some online lookups, or go to the library and check the yellow pages, and then start calling around.

    If that doesn’t net anything, call a bunch of florist shops in those cities and see who they suggest.

    Then get a U-Haul and a couple of muscular friends for a one-day round-trip road trip. Given that you’re in central Texas, be sure to bribe your friends with barbecue and Shiner Bock.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Houston Craigslist has:

    http://houston.craigslist.org/bfs/1200274762.html

    It’s from Jun 1, but it might still be available.

  23. pandroid says:

    You can use the fridge in my apartment if you want. It’s always pretty much empty. Don’t know how much that helps though.

    • pandroid says:

      @pandroid: P.S. I’m not kidding, but my lease is up July 31st so any flowers would need to be out by then.

      Have you seriously considered talking to local real estate people to “rent” the fridges of all the empty apartments since the UT students are gone for the summer?

  24. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    It would really help if Billy and his wife were on this site to answer questions and provide more detail.

    We know fridges can handle the temperature, but is there anything that would make them unsuitable? Cause if so, half the speculation and suggestion in this thread is moot, which is a shame.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Try renting walk-in space from a local church. Most all big churches with new-ish buildings will have walk-in refrigerator coolers (I’ve been in three church kitchens in Austin in the past six months with multiple walk-in fridges).

    I’d look for the bigger churches with newer or added-onto facilities, for your best shot at finding a possibly-rentable walk-in cooler. I don’t know what area of “outside Austin” OP is in, but I can think of at least one downtown & three in N.Austin or Wilco which I’d try.

    I’m sure they won’t do constant/perpetual storage, but I bet, for a price, you could negotiate a few days’ use for the wedding, especially if it’s not over a Sunday and the church isn’t doing any special events/weddings/Vacation Bible School right then.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I would suggest heading to a big box store and getting 2 or 3 free standing A/C units that allow you to connect a hose to the drain part of the A/C unit. Put all of these in the cooler on high and see what happens.

  27. NathanLV says:

    In an economy like this is seems likely that there are other local florists that are having serious financial problems. Find one. Work out a deal to use their cooler.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Here is a used one that ships to Texas.
    Scroll to the bottom of this webpage:
    http://www.barrinc.com/usedSystems/walk_in_display_coolers.aspx

  29. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Geez… I was going to suggest you could use by buddies ex-wife… she’s very frosty… drops the temp of any room she enters to sub-zero… close to 0 Kelvin.

    Then I read that they only want to go down to 35-38F. Nuts.

  30. Nakko says:

    I live around Austin, and my dad is an A/C guy. Maybe I could ask him if he could do it cheap?

  31. Anonymous says:

    It won’t have the fancy glass front, but do what us homebrewers do when we need cheap refrigeration. Buy an inexpensive chest freezer and plug it into a temperature controller (http://www.northernbrewer.com/temp-control.html) to turn the freezer into a fridge.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Try a shipping company…. a 20 or 40 foot refer trailer with a generator set can be set to maintain any temp program you need or even getting a rental refrigerated truck company and getting a short term lease might be the way to go… as some specialty food stores and florists used these temporary arrangements during peak holiday seasons….

    Maybe Maersk[-Sealand] Shipping could be a good starting place
    http://www.maerskline.com/link/?page=lhp&path=/north_america/unitedstates/office

  33. synergy says:

    I’m wondering how the brother could cancel their policy. Was a part owner? Was his name on the paperwork?? And if he wasn’t, couldn’t they prove their store ownership etc and restart the policy? I’m just wondering what would cause them to be unable to stay with the company with which they already had the good insurance through.

    • Billy-Austin says:

      @synergy:

      We had inherited a commercial building from my mother in law and put insurance on it. Her brother owned part of the building also and told the insurance company that we didn’t have the right to put the insurance on it, so they canceled everything on us.

      We are with a different company now, but that company told us the policy was pretty much the same. Guess they were wrong.

  34. Billy-Austin says:

    Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. I knew that this community would help anyway they can.

    I do have another refrigeration tech coming to look on Saturday, but they aren’t guaranteeing that the compressor won’t have to be replaced. If that is the case, then it will cost us around $1500 to fix and it really isn’t worth it. He is cutting me a deal, but only if they don’t have to replace anything.

    This business is our main income and having it closed is causing major issues. We are behind on our house payment and can’t catch up because we aren’t making any money. We have 3 wire services (FTD, etc.) and they have been suspended until we figure out what to do. Even with them suspended, they still charge us the monthly fees…so we are loosing hundreds of dollars a week at this point.

    I have a wholesaler that will let me use their cooler, but they are 40 miles away (we don’t actually live in Austin, but 30 miles to the east). That will help with the wedding flowers, but not for the day to day orders. They also close at 4pm on Friday and we would have to pull the flowers out by then and find some place to store them while my wife works on them.

    I have emailed most of the cooler sellers on craigslist and they just want more than I have at the moment. I found a great walk in for $1500 obo, but I would have to buy the walk in, pay someone to disassemble and reassemble the walls and compressor, pay a plumber to run the lines, pay an electrician to wire it, and pay a refrigeration tech to test and fill with freon. That would pretty much put me at $2k. On top of all that, we can’t test it because the building they are in doesn’t have electricity.

    We did have a deal for one that was perfect. I emailed the lady and told her we wanted it. She never emailed me back. I just tried again yesterday and she is holding it for someone coming on Saturday, even though I offered her full price and said I would come get it right now. If she calls me on Saturday, I am going to offer much less than I originally did.

    The issue with using regular refrigerators is that those are hard to control the temp on. Once you open a refrigerator, the temp rises and has to come back down. The flower coolers do have some drop, but it isn’t any where near what a refrigerator does. Plus, we would need 6 or 7 refrigerators for all of the flowers. The wedding we are doing is really big. It will be the biggest one we have ever done.

    The temp for floral coolers is 35 degrees. You can have it a little higher, but 35 is the correct temp. If you have it hovering around 40, then you risk problems with Ethylene gas from your flowers. If you don’t carry daisies, then it would be less of a problem since they produce as much gas as some fruits.

    I could buy a cooler from out of state, but renting a uhaul and driving out of state would put me back in the range of a new one.

    I’m only working with around $750 here and can’t spend what I don’t have. We could finance one, but getting approval when you are a flower shop is pretty much impossible. They see us as a huge risk in this economy. I would have an easier time getting financing if I was a restaurant, than a flower shop.

    We do have a second cooler, but it only works for a couple of hours and then dies. I think that both coolers have reached the end of their life cycles. Hopefully we can get back on track in the future and replace all of them with a walk in and small display cooler.

    Thanks again for all your suggestions and I will let you know what happens on Saturday. If you find a cooler for sale in Texas, please send me a message and let me know.

  35. corpus_goatse_tx says:

    Temporarily, they could rent a refrigerated trailer and have it parked behind or alongside their store. I worked at an Austin flower shop that used such a rental trailer for temporary storage of flowers during the busy week leading up to Valentines Day. Those vases of roses take up a lot of room!

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @corpus_goatse_tx: I feel like the problem is that they can’t afford a brand new cooler, and can’t find a used one…so how much money should they spend for alternative methods of cooling and how long can they sustain that while they’re looking for a deal on a flower cooler. I think all of the suggestions are great, I’m just wondering whether it’s just that the OP is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

  36. JanetCarol says:

    What about what my mom calls ‘Jerry Rigging’?
    Get an old refrigerator, take off the door and get some plexi glass, some hinges and a gasket – Rig it up baby!
    might not work, but I thought it would be worth the suggestion

  37. Fist-oô says:

    With all these great ideas, I REALLY hope you post what you end up doing! I’m very curious now! :D

    As to suggestions, not sure what I can add at this point, except what I originally thought of: Buy some big Styrofoam sheets like for insulating houses & basements. Duct tape them into as large of a square as you need. Buy a used stand-up fridge or freezer; cut a fridge-sized hole in the side of your foam cube, and open the freezer/fridge door all the way (or remove it). There, now the fridge/freezer is cooling the Styrofoam mini-room! Don’t forget to cut a door into it so you can go in & out, too!

  38. Ronin-Democrat says:

    call the dean of the local ac/refrig school and ask if they have a couple of students that are interested in the port project.
    make sure they are at least b students.
    they get work experience and some coin
    the school’s internship program gets the job
    you get the problem solved

    and fire your insurance agent.
    a good agent would know that your biz needs a working refrig and that should be covered in your insurance.

  39. jsgriggs says:

    I found this on craigslist in Houston. That’s only 2.5 hours away. Oh, it’s in Katy. That’s even closer to you.

    [houston.craigslist.org]

  40. Skankingmike says:

    Why not by an old freezer box and install a glass top or maybe buy an old ice cream freezer box like they have in convince stores. Seems like it would work the same way.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Use dry ice. I don’t know how well this would work with flowers, but it’s worth a shot. Plant’s would absorb the CO2 anyways. Keep the flowers in broken cooler, but place dry ice on the floor. I worked in a grocery store and the freezer broke, so they placed dry ice in there until it was fixed. Of course if you were to do that, you wouldn’t want to stay in there for very long since the room will be filled with CO2. Like they say on Will it Blend, “Don’t breath this.”

  42. wickedpixel says:
    • Billy-Austin says:

      @wickedpixel:

      I emailed them. The problem with those coolers is that you can’t set the temp to 35 degrees. You can get close, but those go anywhere from 34 – 40.

  43. HogwartsAlum says:

    You guys absolutely rock. It’s great to see everyone jump on the bandwagon to help the florists.

  44. unpolloloco says:

    An open food refrigerator (like in most grocery stores) should do the trick. I’ve seen flowers and food being swapped out interchangeably in many stores. If the flowers don’t need to be visible, a regular old refrigerator + a thermometer + a bit of vigilance would be cheaper.

  45. Ian Sterne says:

    What about a rented refrigerated Truck or trailer? You could use this temporarily to do the big wedding (also could ease delivery of flowers to the wedding) I know Ryder has them. (see link 1) Some other large rental truck companies also rent refrigerated trucks, so check around. Also carrier the AC people have an industrial rental division that might also work (see link 2). The flouriest could use this equipment to pipe in cold air into the refrigerator on a temporary basis.

    1 [www.ryder.com]

    2 [www.hvacportablesystems.com]

  46. tmed says:

    Dry Ice inside the broken cooler is an OK stop-gap. the plants will generate Oxygen, and the Dry Ice will not push out all of the oxygen so that you can’t live. Call a chemistry professor and get some numbers: it would take a heckuva lot of Dry Ice to kill you. (don’t tell Matlock)

  47. Billy-Austin says:

    Update:

    The refrigeration guy I had scheduled to come out on Friday, can’t make it until Monday. They are on an install and weren’t able to come out. Still trying
    to find a way to fix what we have at this point.

    I have someone who can possibly get me a compressor, but it doesn’t seem on the up and up. I’m afraid to get a new compressor and find out that someone else actually owns it.

    I “think” we might have the wedding flowers taken care of, but it doesn’t help with day to day operation. I can’t use another florist or store because they are my competition and would be unwilling to help.

    We had thought about contacting a restaurant, but you can’t store flowers and food together…plus the location is required to have a floral permit thru the
    state.

    Thought about getting some dry ice or getting one of those window AC controllers, but can’t afford that much dry ice and can not knock a hole in my wife’s cooler (would have to cut thru layers of metal and foam and it
    would ruin it). Told the wife we could build a walk in but those controllers are $399, the AC unit is $299, the foam would be $200, and the wood frame would be $150 – $200…..that puts me at $1100.

    Not sure what we are going to do at this point. Still looking on Craigslist, but everyone wants more money than I have. I had someone offer me a 2 door cooler for cheap, but we have to use a floral cooler and not a drink cooler (different thermostats and fan assembly)

    Found a great walk in for $1500, but would have to pay a fortune to have it reassembled and reconnected to electricity. The walk in would actually work the best for us, but don’t have the money to pay for all the extra work involved.

    Will update tomorrow if the tech actually shows up!

    • unpolloloco says:

      @Billy-Austin: What are the actual requirements for a floral cooler? I feel like an open food refrigerator would be ideal – good airflow and complete temperature control. Finding one, however, is the issue. Check out the local small business associations – see if there’s any kind of loan programs.

      Is this your only source of income? If so, you can’t afford not to solve this issue.

  48. Miannco says:

    I’m a florist in New Orleans. When I first started out and didn’t have money to purchase a large walk in cooler I used a Coke cooler. All you have to do is adjust the twist dial thermostat located inside the door. You can use it with no problem. Find a convenience store owner who has a drink cooler, and see if he/she would let you store flowers there. Pretty sure if they’re like the people here, you could barter for flower arrangements. Good Luck. I wish you the best of luck.