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.