Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Christmas Opening times

Time flies by so quickly these days which is why I have only just realised I've not shared our Xmas opening times with you all; hard to believe that 2 weeks today will be Christmas Day.
So we will be open all day on Saturday 22nd and up until 12noon on Sunday 23rd December (we will actually still be working on the Sunday afternoon but will be closing the doors at 12 so we have time to get ourselves sorted and ready for Christmas Eve).  We will then be open from 8.30 as normal on Xmas Eve but we will be closing at 12 noon (and not a second later; if you haven't collected your orders by then it sadly be too late for you; our reason for this is because we have families too and have to get ourselves organised for Christmas just like the rest of you) .
We will NOT be open then until Wednesday 2nd January. This is partly down to the flower markets. Although they will be operating during the Christmas and New Year periods the flowers that they will have on offer will be those left over from the Christmas stock. As you know we pride ourselves on the freshness and quality of the flowers we supply, and while we know the supermarkets (and sadly some other florists) are happy to supply and stock week old flowers, we would rather close down for the week and start fresh again in the New Year. Our apologies if this causes problems for you, but we know you understand our reasoning for it.
If we don't get the opportunity between now and then we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year and thank you so much for your custom throughout 2012. Without you we wouldn't be here.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

It's that time of year again

The time that I used to look forward to in the shop; but it's now the time that holds no excitement any more. What am I talking about? Christmas of course.
To me it just starts way too early these days, that the whole festive period and season gets lost in a sea of adverts, tinsel and fairy lights. These things are great and everything that sums up Christmas, but to see them now just seems so wrong. It's not even the middle of November and shops are already putting trees up.  I know of several florists that already have their Christmas window displays in. You will NEVER find me putting anything christmassy in the shop (or window) before December. In fact this year the plan is to put our window display in the weekend of the 8th.
A window display is a great selling point for any business, but if people are driving past every day for 7 weeks seeing the same thing in that window they are soon going to get bored, and the last thing anyone wants is a bored customer. Someone bored is most likely to try a competitor.  Christmas is already rammed at us from every angle thanks to television; do we really need it in local/small shops too? I don't think we do.
Maybe I am stuck in the 70's, but I think the Americans actually have it right on this score. They rarely (yes you do still get the odd few) put their decorations up until after Thanksgiving, which as we all know is the end of November. I was lucky enough to be stateside from mid November to December a few years back, and it was great, because there wasn't a strand of tinsel to be seen until the beginning of December. I'd left the UK full of anything and everything Christmas and arrived there to nothing, so by the time they did start to get their decorations up the timing was just about right.
So for those of you wondering why we currently have a window of pretty creams, yellows, blues and pinks, and not full of Reds and Golds (a colour scheme we will NOT be using) now you know why. It's just way to early.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Thank You

There's not really much more I/We can say except Thank you. To each and every single one of you. Past, Present and Future; you really the reason we do this and keep going. You are also the reason we have just had our best year EVER.

To know that during these troubled/hard times we are holding our own, and going from strength to strength each and every year helps to make up for all those early morning, late nights and long, long, loooong weekends we all work. We see more of the shop and our lovely customers, than we do our own homes and family at times.   It wouldn't be possible without any of you though. It's your continued support of us and what we do that has enabled us to pay all the bills this year.  Don't go thinking it's all plain sailing. There are still many sleepless nights, and nobody knows what the future holds for any of us, but since we opened our doors in July 2009 this little business of ours has improved year on year. Knowing other small business owners that have had to close their shops down this year due to the economy (and through no fault of their own) makes us realise just how important it is to keep trying, and just how important each and every single one of you are. You are the reason we are still here; it's because of you we can pay our bills (hopefully one day we'll pay ourselves too :O)  ) Mind you we haven't had the accountants bill in yet; that could soon put a dampener on how well we've done. :)

As you know your feedback is also very important to us, and we'd like to thank you for taking the time out to send us emails, messages and popping in personally to share your feedback and ideas with us.  Some of the great ideas we've tried - and succeeded with -  have been because of you, so again Thank You.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Email ordering

One of the things we have noticed happening more and more, is people wanting to order flowers via email. While in principal we have no issue with this and will do all we can to accomodate customers that wish to place orders in this way, we do need to warn you that we don't always get round to picking our emails up on a daily basis.  Our online ordering system alerts us when an order has come through, and automatically prints the order out for us so that we can't miss it, but emails get checked, as and when we have time too. Some days they don't get checked at all where we have been too busy to log on.  The other thing with emails is that they don't always come through and end up lost in cyber space; the odd 1 or 2 also find themselves ending up in a spam folder, so they are a very shaky and un-advisable way of ordering if you are in a hurry as it means we may not be able to help with your order; there is a chance of the unthinkable happening  and the flowers not being able to be delivered at all.

Sadly that has happened this week and it's not something we like at all as we had to let a customer down because of it. Now the customer didn't send the email to us until 3.30pm (we close at 5) so it wasn't picked up until we were inputtingthat days data. The customer wanted to place an order for the following day for a funeral. She had omitted to give us any details when we saw the message at roughly 5.30 that evening, and she had given us no other way of contacting her either. Just what she wanted and that it was for a funeral.  The minute we read it we responded, asking what time the service was, where it was being held and what design would she like us to make for her; we did explain we may be limited on designs as it was so late in the day but would do our very best to help.

It took until 9.30 that evening before we got a reply (by now we had diverted the shop emails to our own personal email accounts) but then the customer still didn't fill in what details she wanted. She just said it needed to be delivered between 8 & 9 the following morning.  At this point, we did begin to wonder if this may have been a random person testing us to see how far we can be pushed (yes sadly that does happen a lot) but as we would with anyone because our customers are our priority, we again responded immediately asking again what item the lady would like as we wanted to try to see if we could get what she wanted; however did state that we weren' t sure we could deliver so early without knowing exactly where the flowers were to be delivered too, so again we asked for all the details we would ask any customer for. We never recieved any reply to this which saddened us as we would have done all we could to help out; sadly though we are only human and there is only so much we can do.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Goodness me.. 212 viewings

of the blog I wrote yesterday in the past 22 hours. Wow. There's not much else I can say but WOW. That's a massive amount of people having read. I truly could not be happier right now. Even better is it looks like you all stayed around and read through some of the older ones too as their numbers rose in the same time frame too. This makes me very happy. To think you took the time to read is great, but to know it was obviously interesting enough for you to read others is even better. Smiling broadly. I only logged on as I had an email notification that someone had sent a message via the blog (a very lovely one it is too). That's when I saw how many views and knew I just had to say a big thank you to you all.
It means a lot to know that just one person has read it. To see over 200 is wonderful. Maybe I'm getting better at this?? :o) (ok, ok.. a girl can hope).
It's been a good day all round today. I had a call from our lovely bride at the weekend to say the flowers were (her words) stunning, and more beautiful than I was expecting. Words like that are the best words to hear. The stresses of weddings; making sure the flowers are perfect; hoping the wholesalers don't let us down; relying on traffic not jamming up so our brides don't have to walk down the aisle empty handed, are all washed away with those few little words.
All in all today is a very good day :o)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

You know how we like

to make that little something different? Well we got to do that again this week.  Sadly we never like the occasion we get asked to make these flowers for (even more so this week as they were for our Sarahs best friend who lost her brave battle with cervical cancer back in March) but at the same time to be the florist chosen to create such an item is a real honour for us.  To know we have helped a family member with the final gift they can buy their loved one really is a true privilege for us.
So what did we get to make?  Only a little pink piggy. Actually he was a bit bigger than little.  He stood at just over 2ft from head to tail, and pretty much the same from head to foot.  We have to say when he was finished it was quite a proud moment.

As with so many tributes we are asked to make, we always say "yes no problem" to everything; it's only when we sit down to work out the scemantics we realise what we have truly let ourselves in for. Then we have to decide whether to go 2D or 3D. In this case 2D would never have worked. Yes we could have got the shape and outline, but the detail would have been missing, so 3D he became.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

It's quite exciting

Well we're quite excited by it and wanted to share with you all. The bouquet in the picture above is for a presentation and will apparently be seen on local television (not sure which channel or whether today/tomorrow or if we're even allowed to say but we felt the need to share) and then on Tuesday we have a tribute to make up that is being used in a Memorial Dedication Cermony for the anniversary (albeit a week early) of the sinking of the Titanic. With our Sarah being into all things Titanic related (even before it was popular to be so) this is a really big thing for her and she is busy planning away how to make it without going too over the top. We have no doubt she will succeed and the photographs will be posted on here in due time. The hardest part for her is sourcing the Navy Blue ribbon they have asked us to use in it. Royal blue we can get by the ton; navy blue is not quite so easy, but we have great wholesalers who have never let us down with anything we've asked for, and so we are certain we will be able to get exactly what we need for it. Not sure if there will be anything in the local papers regarding it but we will be keeping an eye out just in case.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

All over for another year

Wow. What can I say? Not a lot except a HUGE Thanks to each and every one of you that took the time out and used us for your Mothers Day flowers. It was our most successful mothers day to date and we are extremely grateful to each and every one of you. It makes all the hours we work (basically this year we started at 7 on Friday morning and finished at 12 on Sunday lunchtime) worthwhile.  Where would we be without you?

It's always a bit of a come down after Mothers Day; it's our last peak period until Christmas comes round again (which seems to get closer and closer each year), but the great thing is we can begin to concentrate on the shop, the wedding season and all the other bits and pieces in between so it's not all bad.  I think the worst thing is the build up to Christmas, then leads in to the build up to Valentines, which then leads into Mothers Day and now suddenly it's all stopped. 

It was lovely to change the window display earlier. That's the great thing about the peaks all being over. The window becomes the shops again and isn't dictated to by what is going on, so today I've gone all springy and as flowery as possible.  The photo below is taken from behind the window (with our smoked glass it's impossible to take a pic from the outside during daylight hours and at night the flash reflects so the whole thing is lost) but as you can see it's all lovely spring colours and full of flowers.  Spring is such a beautiful season and really celebrates flowers, of all shapes, sizes and colours.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

As one finishes

so we begin planning for the next one to begin. Thankfully though Mothers Day means we can go all out on the pinks, yellows, greens, blues; pretty much anything BUT red which is a blessing, as we've pretty much had red since the beginning of November. Remembrance day kicks it off with the poppies, then comes Christmas (and no matter how hard we try to introduce differing colours for the festive season, red is still the most popular) and then whoosh we have Valentines.
Large Bag
Another great thing about Mothers Day is we are able to have a play with things, and shake it up a bit. As you can see from the photo above we've bought some bags/cards. Not sure how to explain them really.  The larger one (above) is meant to dupilcate a shopping bag, whereas the smaller one (see photo below) is a clutch bag. I'm sure the shopping bag is meant to be called something else (at the end of the day does a Mum really want a shopping bag for Mothers Day?). To that I think if it's full of flowers then YES.  The card itself stands at 16inches high, and 14inches wide, so it a cracking size to make it a statement item. They remind me very much of the living card arrangements that used to be so popular, but with a modern twist to them.  So far everyone that has seen them in the shop has commented positively on them, so that can only be a good thing. Prcie wise the larger one is working out at £35. The smaller at £25 so they are really well priced for the size and amount of flowers that go in to them.  They can also be made using artificial flowers, but as always an extra 20% needs to be added for artificial.
The Clutch Bag

The only downside to them is that they don't come in any other colour than the pink (that we can find yet but you never know what may be out there). We are heading off to the wholesalers this evening so we come across some they've kept hidden in other yummy colours.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Thank Goodness

that's over for another year. Don't get me wrong. We love to be busy; we love to see you all, but we really don't love de-thorning all those roses. It's not good for our hands; we'll be digging thorns out of our fingers for the next few months (and you all thought we had such a glamorous job)  :o) 

While the reality of it may not be glamorous, the busyness (is that actually a word?) of the day was phenomenal and far exceeded any expectations we may have had leading up to the day itself. Whoever said "romance is dead" has obviously not been to Fareham. There sure are a lot of you out there. By Saturday we had to beg and plead with wholesalers to source more roses for us as the dozens were coming in thick and fast. Not once did we expect that. What really surprised us was that nobody wanted single's or half dozens this year. Everyone that wanted roses went for the full dozen. In 26 years I've NEVER known that to happen before. Have to admit it caught me by surprise a little bit and it's not often I get to say that. 

One of the worst parts of the day is the emergency phone calls for specific flowers and the abuse we get when we can't get what the customer wants at such short notice. That happened at 7.30 yesterday morning; never a good thing when I'm so NOT a morning person. Ever the professional I did end the conversation by suggesting the gentleman (if you'd heard the language he used you wouldn't call him that) tried another shop as I wasn't willing to serve him. I admit I did then hang up. I do believe I was justified in doing so though as he wanted a bouquet of white anthuriums, white calla lilies and purple roses. These are not flowers that would be held in stock on a normal day as the prices are not the cheapest in the world for any of them, but at Valentines these are also flowers that we would have had to order by Wednesday of last week, and even then we wouldn't be able to guarantee the roses at this time of year. However while I had the customer on the phone, I got on my mobile and rang round 4 wholesalers and 2 van sales guys to see if they had any of the flowers or something similar. As I suspected they didn't but this is when the customer laid the abuse thick and fast and told me "you are a disgrace.. Call yourself a florist? How can you not stock the basic fundamentals" etc etc.. this went on for a couple of minutes before I pointed out that he had heard me try to source them, that he was asking for flowers that it was impossible to get at such short notice and that I didn't appreciate the language he was using (don't think it's appropriate to put here the words he used). That's when I then suggested he try someone else (sorry to any fellow florists that may be have had to deal with him after).  It all comes back to the age old saying "miracles I can perform.. the impossible is slightly harder". Thankfully he didn't ruin the day for me and from then on everyone that came in or phoned was lovely. 

One of the great things about Valentines is the card messages. Some customers guard what they are writing and they are then passed a solid envelope that cannot be seen through. Others ask us what to write or get us to write them for them and to be honest most are pretty much box standard; but a few years ago there was a young lad that came in with a poem. I've always remembered it and he gave me permission back then to share, so if you're ever stuck for something to write and your husband, wife, or partner have a sense of humour I'm sure he wouldn't mind you using this;

I compare thee to this beautiful rose
But not the part that's thorny;
Me I'm like a rhino
Clumsy, half blind, But HORNY.

It still brings a smile to my face even now when I think about it. I've no idea if he mace it up himself or if he borrowed it from someone else, but it was lovely to have someone bring humour into the day along with the romance. 

Then there are the people that don't write their name on the card because "she'll know who they're from". We always ask if they do happen to phone whether we are allowed to let on who's sent them (although we are registered with Data Protection, we are still under law not allowed to provide customer details.. this has caused problems in the past at Valentines and it's not unusual for us to get visits from the local constabulary with regards to flowers that have been sent out). I had several yesterday but one particular person phoned asking who had sent them. I'd been asked by the orderer not to let on but if she asked if it was from him I was allowed to say yes. So the phone goes and it's the call I've been expecting. What I didn't expect was for the person who received the flowers to reel off a list of roughly 20 people before they got to the person that had actually ordered them. The disappointment in their voice when I was finally able to say Yes to a name was plain for anyone to hear. I truly do feel sorry for the person that placed the order as what they paid was by no means cheap.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Genuinely Touched

In our business we're quite lucky; we often get gifts of chocolate, wines, champagnes (occasionally Mr Smirnoff has been handed over), shortbreads and biscuits as thank yous for different items we have made; weddings we have been privileged to be part of, or because we've helped someone out (the drivers have often dropped home some of our elderly customers when their shopping has been too heavy for them to carry). Today however was different and I can honestly say I have never been so touched by a customer before. I'm not prone to being highly emotional (during work or when things are work related that it) but today I had a little tear in my eye and feel so very humble right now.
The photograph above is of the painting that we have been sent today.Sadly the colours are not doing it justice (it's not as dark in the flesh). The lady came in on Monday to see me (she often just pops in for a chat now) and we were talking about paintings and she asked what I like to see in a painting and what I consider art.  Today she phoned me and asked me to send my driver up as she had something for me. He came back with this painting. In 2 days she's put everything I love about paintings (everything I love in general). There are mountains, streams, trees, countryside, sheep ( I love sheepies). When I phoned to ask what it was for (I thought she might want me to display it to sell for her) she told me it was a gift and a thank you for everything I've done for her and how I helped her out when her husband passed away early last year. Told her I was just doing my job (which to me I was.. I treat everyone in the same way) and she replied "but there's doing your job and DOING your job". I knew what she meant and as I have said I am truly touched. I don't think anyone has ever done such a nice/lovely thing for me.
It's being sent off to be framed but in a couple of weeks will be hanging in pride of place on the shop wall so if you're passing by, come and have a look at it. 

Today is the last day

That we can 100% guarantee the flowers you may require for Valentines Day. I know it seems a bit early but when you take into consideration the wholesalers have to source our order, and the growers have to make sure they've got the crops, it's not really that early at all.
What is early is the shocking price rises. Gerbera prices have risen by 243% since Monday, so we can only begin to imagine how expensive they will be on the day. We won't even go there with the rose price increase; I'm sure as we edge close to the big day everything else will rise by stupid amounts too. This is where it gets mighty frustrating for us as florists. The supermarkets are already outpricing us and that's fine. To be honest they can't buy the higher quality roses (and other flowers) we are able to, and everyone knows they already have their Valentines stock in their fridges waiting for the day to arrive. Our stock arrives the day before so we may be more expensive but we can guarantee our quality. That's not (and they're not) an issue. What is, is the prices we are then charged. How can I say to a regular customer "sorry.. that Gerbera you want to buy that I sold you last week for £1 now has to be £3.43. That's how much of a difference the rise this week alone has made to us. I can't charge a customer that amount of money, so although I have to put the prices up to cover how much they are costing me, I can't raise them to the amount needed to make any money, and so for us; as florists, Valentines day costs us money rather than makes us any. Then we have to put up with people coming in, getting quotes; then telling us "you're ripping us off.. you must be rolling in it". If only. Please before you start bashing us for the price increase, take a moment to think about how much we are losing to keep the increase to a minimum for you.  To be honest I am sure if you asked any florist (and I've asked a few) whether they would rather have 100 Valentines orders or only 20 normal orders they would choose the normal orders every time. Yes the cost of every day flowers rise, but not to the same extent and our minimum value customers still get great value for their money. The whole thing is too commercial and a complete and utter rip off. Having said that we have sourced beautiful roses and are able to keep them the same price as last year which is £50 for the dozen, handtied with all the trimmings. Dearer than some other local competition but we will not budge on quality and would rather pay out the extra for roses we know will last and look beautiful, than buy a lesser quality that could easily be sold cheaper but wouldn't last anywhere near as long as they should do.