As a customer, you see ads from the ancient florist wire services like FTD and Teleflora. Readers write in and complain to us about those specific brands, since that’s the website they visit and the brand name that’s familiar. When you order up some flowers, though, that’s not who brings them to your door. It’s locally-owned florists, small business owners, who actually arrange and deliver your gifts. They might receive orders from the wire services, but often earn no profit or even take a loss on putting it together.
Belonging to a national network takes a huge bite out of the owner’s profits and the quality of the flowers you might get. CNN broke the actual transaction down from the point of view of a Reno florist. An arrangement of roses and carnations that FTD advertised for $44.99 (delivery charges brought it closer to $65) ended up costing the business $4 for every order that came in. Many local shops have had enough of this business model, and have left national networks. They depend on direct business from local and out-of-town customers.
Why does this matter to consumers? Other than wanting to see independent shops succeed, placing your order directly with a local shop offers the best value for your money. “They take such a huge cut,” one Georgia florist told CNN. “The money you spend isn’t in flowers. You spend $70 on a $26 bouquet.”
One interesting exception to this business model is Proflowers. We’ve heard from a lot of disappointed customers of theirs this week, and one of the things they’re so disappointed about is that the blooms arrived in a box, and the recipient has to arrange them. This isn’t a difficult task, but part of the thrill of receiving flowers at work is (so I hear) receiving a fully-assembled arrangement while the rest of the office looks on in jealously. Or so I hear.
As our Garden of Discontent series shows, Consumerist readers certainly have learned that lesson over and over. Try to benefit from their mistakes.