The floral industry's big four will soon become the big three. In October, 2014 FTD will merge with ProFlowers. What will this mean for the floral industry and what will it mean for florists ?
As a florist in Boston, my biggest hope would be more national advertising to create awareness for the entire floral industry. While the floral industry relies upon occasion based giving, it would be great if FTD ramped up their advertising to make certain that flowers should be at the top of any gift giving list.
ProFlowers was always limited in its ability to tout same day delivery. Same delivery is one of Exotic Flowers in Boston's greatest assets. FTD's network of thousands of local florists should strengthen ProFlowers value. It is interesting to note that FTD launched a hand tied European bouquet collection previous to this announcement. ProFlowers was built on assembly required bouquets. At Exotic Flowers, 'batteries' are included and we do not feel that your floral gift should have to be assembled.
The gorilla in the room just got stronger. The question remains, how will FTD convince its members like Exotic Flowers in Boston that this merger will benefit a local Boston florist ?
Every night I read my four year old son Lance a bed time story. While Lance prefers The Cat in the Hat or his mom's The Popcorn Hydrangea of Poppingtom, I make sure to read new books often. Now that his mom works at the Westwood Library, Lance enjoys new books daily. Last night we read The Donut Chef by Bob Staake.
Staake's tale shares the story of a wildly popular doughnut shop who almost loses sight of what made his clients love his shop to begin with. When a rival doughnut shop opens, the chef continues to create new and exciting flavors every day. Sometimes the doughnuts do not even look like or taste like doughnuts.
As florists in Boston, we can caught up in this same type of hysteria. Competition is great for business. It forces new ideas and betters service. At the same time, florists cannot forget where our clients came from. The donut chef is reminded by a two year old girl that the glazed doughnut (which he no longer sells) is the reason she was there. This revelation leads the donut chef to bring back the glazed doughnut in all its grandeur.
Much like the Donut Chef, every florist needs to remind themselves that the red rose is the backbone flower of our industry. We should never dispel its significance. Clients will try other flavors, but they will always want that red rose.
So many small florists undervalue their talents. As professional florists, know that your skills came at a steep price and you should be compensated for your time, effort and talent.
When brides come into our Boston flower shops and ask about doing the flowers themselves (dyi) for their own wedding, I often think of this story.
Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.
“It’s you — Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.”
So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.
“It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?”
“Five thousand dollars,” the artist replied.
“B-b-but, what?” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!”
To which Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”
On July 12th, 1957 - Arnold 'Sonny' Canale purchased Lombardi Florist & Nurserymen at 599 American Legion Highway in Roslindale. Sonny had worked there for years as designer, grower, salesman, delivery driver and floor sweeper.
Sonny's mantra since that day has been 'never hire anyone who cannot sweep the floor.' That work ethic has remained in place at Exotic Flowers for 57 years.
Sonny remains at the top of the Exotic Flowers hierarchy. He works seven days on the property. So clients can rest easy knowing that the boss tends to every detail.
At Exotic Flowers in Boston, we are baseball fans. We celebrate the grand old game any chance we get. On Opening Day, we have a company cookout. We have partnered with the Boston Red Sox and sponsored many little league and softball teams over the years. If you're in Roslindale and talk baseball, rest assured your florist in Boston will always 'talk shop,'.
Baseball and flowers go hand in hand. Glenn Stout tells us, in his book Fenway 1912, that on April 20th, 1912 Fenway Park opened and pots of flowers greeted the fans. Think about it, pots brimming with flowers welcome people. Baseball people knew this 100 years ago. Baseball Hall of Famer Bill Veeck planted the ivy at Wrigley Field in Chicago in 1937 to make patrons feel more welcome. Yes. Baseball, flora and fauna go hand in hand.
Flowers and baseball provide a spark of nostalgia. Whether you recall Fred Lynn crashing into the Fenway wall in 1975 or the beautiful flowers on your grandmother's dinner table, these images create a bond and experience that your cell phone cannot. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Cooperstown, New York celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. At Exotic Flowers, we have partnered with the Hall of Fame to bring our clientele The Cooperstown Collection. Exotic Flowers will donate twenty percent of the purchase price of specially designed baseball themed floral arrangements and gifts to the Hall of Fame to help raise money and awareness for this valued American Institution. The world needs more museums.
On another note, Exotic Flowers is proud to announce that the team we sponsor in Westwood, Massachusetts won its championship. The Westwood River Bandits had an amazing run of 12 wins, 1 loss and 1 tie as it captured the third grade championship.
For the third year in a row, Exotic Flowers has been named Best Florist in Boston by the Improper Bostonian Magazine. We welcome the microscope that the title brings. After all, who is to say that Pizzeria Regina's pizza is better than Santarpio's ? Or that, Sweet Cheeks has better barbecue than Red Eyed Pig ? I am sure there are many clients at Winston Flowers and Olympia Flowers that are mystified that the Exotic Flowers was named best florist in Boston for three years in a row.
Thank you to the Improper Bostonian for this recognition and the write up (as seen below).
Exotic’s assortment of pristine arrangements and stunning wedding-reception centerpieces help this business to stand out in the ever-blooming floral services market. In a pinch to find a gift and can’t make up your mind? Designer’s Choice bouquets are updated daily and always offer something colorful and unexpected.
Congratulations to our Roslindale neighbors Fornax (best bread) - it is; and Tables of Content (catering).
If you read the Exotic Flowers in Boston newsletter, blog, our facebook page
or even visit our store in Roslindale, you know that our floral staff loves food. Here are some photos of some of our favorite foods.
Nothing in New England like an authentic clambake which includes lobster, steamers, corn, potatoes and kielbasa. But if sea food is not your thing then how about barbecued ribs or a steak salad.
And of course why finish off your meal with smores ?
Flower arrangements have been a part of the White House's decor since the early days of the White House. In 1815, President James Monroe even purchased gilt bronze vases for the White House to feature flowers. By the mid 1830's, greenhouses were constructed on the west side of the White House. These greenhouses, like many others constructed at that time, enabled the year-round availability of plants and cut flowers.
In 1902, the White House removed the greenhouses so that the White House could become larger. The White House then began to get flowers from neighboring government greenhouses. The administrations realized their importance in not only setting, but also their importance of conveying warmth and prestige. As air travel became prevalent in the United States, the White House began to procure flowers from Florida and California. First Lady Eisenhower even received pink carnations from Colorado.
For many years, the White House used flowers for their aura and impression.. much like traditional funeral work of our time. Jackie Kennedy's arrival to the White House made legendary changes to the White House's style. First Lady Kennedy drew much of her floral inspiration from 16th century Flemish floral and fruit still life paintings. Special White House tableware was now used as vessels for flowers instead of as shelf sitter. She established the first chief of floral design, Rusty Young who worked for both LBJ and Nixon as well.
Today, First Lady Obama has brought her own style to the White House. Michelle Obama prefers a more relaxed look which incorporates romantic blooms like roses, ranunculas, mosses, and shaggy ferns. President Obama, however prefers one simple floral arrangement in the Oval Office along with a simple bowl of red apples.
The current staff is headed up by Laura Dowling along with three staff members. Fresh flower arrangements are a feature in every White House event. Dowling and her staff plan months ahead for diplomatic ceremonies. Dowling is new to the position. She may not have as many stories to share as former Chief of Floral, Nancy Clarke (head florist for 30 years,).
President Ronald Reagan once stopped former White House chief florist Dottie Temple to ask about the then-very-fashionable curly willow branches she'd arranged in the Reagans' bedroom. "About those sticks on the mantel," Reagan said to Temple. "Is anything going to happen to them?" Temple says she got the message. "Yes, sir. I'm going to get rid of them as soon as possible," she said.
"For the longest time, we used to keep a bowl of peach-colored roses on Bush Two's coffee table in the Oval Office," Clarke said. "We changed them to red and that lasted five minutes. We got a call that the president wants the peach roses back."
Tomorrow, July 4th is Independence Day. Read a copy of the Declaration of Independence. I will.
This article was featured in the 6/18/14 The SAF Wednesday Ebrief
By Mary Westbrook
Exotic Flowers in Boston recently launched its “Cooperstown Collection”— a partnership with The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. Owner Rick Canale, who has also been the official florist for the Red Sox, said sports tie-ins, done well, have lots of marketing potential.
Bloggers in the U.K. are giving a red card to a supermarket chain that tried to capitalize on World Cup fever with a special bouquet — but at least one sports-savvy florist in Boston said the idea has the potential to hit plenty of marketing goaaals.
Calling the “Come On, England” bouquet concept “painful,” several bloggers put the red and white carnation design, sold at Morrisons grocery stores, at the top of their “worst” lists for World Cup tie-ins.
“Suddenly, a [groveling] apology from the other half for their latest screw-up just isn’t as gratifying as it used to be,” according to EuroSport. “Alternatively, it’s a rather backhanded way for a guy to [apologize] in advance for spending the next month doing nothing but watching football marathons and angrily debating contentious decisions on social media.”
The chain also rain afoul of customers in Scotland, who successfully petitioned the stores there to stop playing an endless loop of England-related soccer — er, football —songs.
Good intentions, lousy promotion? Not so fast, said Rick Canale of Exotic Flowers in Boston, who suggested the bloggers and writers are probably overreacting, and misinterpreting the grocers’ intentions. “I bet [Morrisons] did not sell the bouquet as an apology theme,” he said. “That would be floral suicide.” (At press time, EBrief editors had not been able to obtain the original marketing materials.)
Canale should know. Exotic Flowers was the official florist of the Boston Red Sox from 2007 to 2009 and won SAF’s Floral Management Marketer of the Year title in 2008. He recently partnered with The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., to launch his new “Cooperstown Collection,” which coincides with the museum’s 75th anniversary.
Canale said hitching your shop to a sports team or event can be marketing gold, but “it’s all about the approach.” In other words, never market a sports-themed design as an apology, but instead, promote it as a party idea or team-spirited host and hostess gift. When you do that well, you turn a non-floral event into an opportunity for your shop.
“Believe me, if I liked soccer, I would be pitching World Cup bouquets here, too,” Canale said. “You have to capitalize on the success of special events. [For example], every Election Day, we launch an Election Day category on our website and then rebrand the same category for Veteran’s Day.”
Generation X has lost its poet. While baby boomers embraced Robert Frost, my generation embraced Maya Angelou (1928-2014). Poet, educator, author, activist, Dr Angelou was the voice for millions.
While at Boston College (1989-1993), I was fortunate to see Maya Angelou speak. She packed St. Ignatius Church to the rafters. Her speech left me in a new mindset. She was powerful and pragmatic. Her simple words of walk away from the conversation have left a lifetime lesson.
So why is Dr Angelou appearing in my blog as a mentor for florists ? Plain and simple: "... people will never forget how you made them feel,". This is what we do as florists, retailers and service industry professionals. If we want people to come back, we need to give them an amazing experience. We need to make them feel welcome and appreciated.
Forget about business for a moment, isn't that what we should do as people ? 'It is nice to be nice,'.