Exotic Flowers in Boston
Rick Canale, yes that is me. As my twitter profile suggests; married to Suzie with 2 sons. My interests include family, food, wine, baseball, reading, Boston, flowers and orchids. My family comes first and everything else second. My blog posts are not only meant to inform, but entertain as well. You can often find me hanging out at Exotic Flowers in Boston. My goal is to deliver breathtaking flower arrangements to residents, workers and visitors in Boston and New England. My favorite flower is the phaelenopsis orchid.
Suzie Canale grew up in Andover, Massachusetts and is a graduate of Salem State College. She began writing as a children's book author after a twenty five year career in the wholesale floral industry in Boston at Back Bay Wholesale where she was inspired by flowers named after child friendly foods. She developed the concept of "The Beantown Tales" - a series of books geared towards educating children to make positive changes within the key concerns of our society. Suzie is the recent recipient of the Green Difference Award for Green Book of 2011 by the Massachusetts Green Schools Organization as well as anHonorable Mention in the 2011 New England Book Festival children's division for her first installment of the Green Series, "The Land of Chocolate Cosmos". She has also authored "The Popcorn Hydrangea of Poppingtom" and "The Candy Roses of Cape Care,".
As she continues her career by writing books, articles and blogs for online websites, magazines and local businesses, she is also busily raising her two sons. Married to Boston florist Rick Canale, Suzie's blog posts focus on weddings, wedding flowers and wedding planning for the Boston area. You can also download her free ebook for wedding planning. Her favorite flowers are sweet pea and of course chocolate cosmos.
Jonathan Bornstein is a Newton resident and graduate of The Roxbury Latin School and Cornell University. Jon is the owner of L. Bornstein and Company, a wholesale floor covering distributor servicing the needs of members of the floor covering trade throughout New England. Jon is active on twitter and writes an amazing blog about great sandwiches that he has ingested. His contribution to the Exotic Flowers in Boston blog ranges from Halloween treats to being a Jew at Christmas. His favorite flower is the gerbera daisy.
Exotic Flowers in Boston is always on the lookout for guest writers. If you would like to write for our blog, let us know. We will make it worth your while.
- It all happens in one day. Everyone wants delivery on the day and everyone wants it early.
- Weather - we are at the will of Mother Nature. If it snows, we are screwed.
- Prices - on Valentine's day a florist's rose prices double, of course we cannot double our prices so we work on a much slimmer margin.
- Media types cutting down flowers. Scientific research from Rutgers University proves flowers make people happy.
- Proflowers - their $19.99 street peddler type roses create the wrong image of the importance of receiving beautiful hand delivered arranged flowers.
It has been said that there is a thin line between love and hate. Those of us swept up in the affairs of the heart are all too familiar with this concept, not only from the perspective of how tenuous it is to balance on this particular tightrope, but also in light of the complications that Valentine’s Day can add to the terrain. For some, the opportunity to express romantic inclinations regardless of age (remember back in the day when you used to count up all the little handheld Valentines you received in class?) or the tokens of affection involved (do we ever truly outgrow our fascination with the numerous sayings on a candy heart?) is one we embrace. Other more cynical types decry the occasion as more commercial than Cupid, where the delicate beginnings of a budding romance can be dashed on the rocks as we are forced to send the wrong signals too soon.
Truth is, while most of us have a keen awareness of the occasion and it’s romantic themes, we know little about Valentine’s Day’s origins and history. Hence, an opportunity to play one of our favorite games here at the old Exotic Flowers’ blog, “Fact or Fiction” (although given the nature of the holiday, perhaps “Truth or Dare” might have been more appropriate).
1) Valentine’s Day was an invention of the Hallmark Greeting Card Company to push love-themed paraphernalia for profit. Fiction. First, the earliest mechanically produced Valentines date back to the early 1800’s, prior to Hallmark’s existence. Second, the roots of the holiday are a subject of much debate. The general consensus is that it began as the Roman festival of Lupercalia, a celebration of fertility or the marriage of Roman gods Juno and Hera (depending on who you ask) dating back to the Middle Ages. The “Valentine” aspect was introduced when the Catholic church attempted to de-paganize the holiday by associating a catholic martyr named Valentine with it to create a feast day in his honor, bringing us to Fact or Fiction #2:
2) Valentine’s Day is a tribute to St. Valentine. Fact. Well, sort of. Little is known about the martyr Valentine, and there appears to be more than one in Catholic canon. There are stories of a Valentine who defied the Roman Emperor Claudius’ edict that men not marry (making military recruitment easier) by performing the illegal ceremony for young lovers, an activity he was ultimately executed for. A Valentine dating back to 200 AD is also purported to have helped free prisoners from jail, restored sight to his jailer’s daughter prior to being executed once he was caught helping others escape, and credited with possibly being the first to use the phrase “From your Valentine” in a note written to a female prisoner he had fallen in love with prior to his execution. There is no definitive historical evidence for any of these actions or the Valentines who performed them, hence the removal of the holiday’s status as a feast day from the calendar by the Catholic Church back in 1969 (wasn’t that the Summer of Love? Ironic, huh?).
3) More roses are sold than any other flower on Valentine’s Day. Fiction. I would have guessed red roses trump every other flora on this holiday, but according to History.com, mixed flowers are the number one choice, and according to noted authority and Exotic Flowers in Boston luminary Rick Canale, the number of red roses sold on Valentine’s day seems to decline every year.
4) Valentine’s day is an American holiday. Fiction. The roots of the holiday began in ancient Rome, as we discussed earlier, and iterations of it are observed all over the world, from Asia, India, Europe, and the Middle East, all the way to South America. Some countries have banned the holiday for its Western or “pagan” roots, and some use it to honor friendship or the beginnings of Spring. My favorite connection to the holiday is in South Korea, where on April 14th (Black Day), those who did not receive gifts from secret loves on Valentine’s Day eat black noodles to mourn the absence of love from their solitary existence. I also enjoyed learning about Jack Valentine, a mystical character who was legendary in Norfolk County, England for leaving treats and gifts for children on the holiday. Unfortunately, his presence and practices spooked the children of the region so badly that parents stopped propagating his lore.
Well, once again, Exotic Flowers blog has broadened your mind and helped you take your first steps into a much larger world. Now why don’t you take that newfound wisdom and share it with someone you love, along with one of the many tokens of affection that the Cupid consultants here at Exotic Flowers in Boston offer?
On Twitter @Zucrowwww.enjoyeverysandwich.blog.com
2010 has been a year of many honors and accomplishments at Exotic Flowers. Sonny Canale celebrated his 52nd year at the helm of Exotic Flowers and Lombardi Florist. We delivered over 10,000 gifts to our clients and provided jobs for more than twenty local residents.
2010 was also a year of personal accomplishment for me as well. I was invited to judge the Floral Management Marketer of the Year competition and the Outstanding Varieties Competition at the Society of American Florists (SAF) Convention. I was also asked to participate in a panel on social media at the SAF convention as well. These invitations are considered some of the highest honors in the floral industry. My exposure and contributions in these fields have also led to more invitations.
My colleagues had recently asked me to help lead the newly formed Massachusetts Professional Florists Association; to serve as a member of the SAF members committee and to serve again on a social media panel at the SAF Growth Solutions Conference in 2011.
Below is my letter of response to these invites.
" I have thought long and hard about your proposal. I am honored, flattered and grateful.
Your invitation has paid me the highest honor - the respect of my
peers... and more importantly those who I aspire to. Having grown up in the flower business, I have always known how hard it is to make a career of this business. I do my best to give back to an industry that has given me and my family so much.
Of course, everything comes back to family. At this time, I must
respectfully decline your invitation. I do not feel I can give the
commitment SAF deserves. Please know, I do not feel this is a
permanent answer. I will continue to do everything I can for the
growth of our business as a whole.
Yearly, the Society of American Florists (SAF) sponsors the Outstanding Varieties Competition where distributors offer the floral world their best fresh cuts in hopes of taking home 'Best in Show.' In 2010, the competition took place in Orlando, Florida at SAF's Annual Convention.
Rick Canale of Exotic Flowers in Boston, Massachusetts was chosen to be one of the nine judges. Rick was chosen to judge spray roses and standard roses as well as "The Best in Show,".
Below are some of Rick's comments regarding the competition.
"By judge Rick Canale's evaluation, Equiflor/Rio Roses 'hit a homerun.' 'It's a true red, has a big head and opens beautifully,' said the owner of Exotic Flowers in Boston. 'Consumers will love it,'."
Canale: "You get a lot of bang for your buck with this variety,". 'For prom work in particular, he'd reach for 'Purple Sky,' as one stem easily yields a corsage and a boutonniere.'
"Canale called it 'an instant conversation piece,'."
The Orange Vision Spray Roses from Esmeralda Farms: "For celebratory orders, Canale suggests this mandarin-colored variety beside lime green flowers, adding that its long laterals make 'Orange Vision' a dream for designing."
The Silver Bell Spray Rose from Golden Flowers: "It's the perfect petal to please purple seekers, Canale added, of what he calls a 'season-less' hue, not too light nor too dark." He also awarded high marks for the bud's uniform head size. "That offers great symmetry and balance,".
Snowflake Spray Roses from Golden Flowers: "It's perfect in every way," said Boston Florist Rick Canale who considered Snowflake second only to Best in Show winner, Jiuhabo Sweetie. "It's a real, true white and buds' opening are just picturesque," he said.
Most of the commentary of this blog post was taken from Katie Hendrick's article regarding Best in Show in the November, 2010 issue of Floral Management
September, 2010 - Orlando, FL - 126th Annual SAF Convention
by Rick Canale of Exotic Flowers in Boston
I just got back from the SAF Orlando floral convention in Florida. The convention celebrated its 126th anniversary this year. 289 people from 35 states and four countries attended the event. Fifteen percent of the registrants attended for the first time.
The numbers from the show exhibit a small sliver of the floral industry.
The highlight of my trip however was three-fold.
One - the people. Floral industry members are some of the hardest working and kindest people there are. I was able to have coffee with industry leader Mark Nance AAF of Bloomnet. I chatted with Floral Management 'capo' Amanda Long. And it was great getting pats on the back by industry icons Stan Pohmer and Teleflora Chairman Tom Butler AAF, PFCI.
Two - I served as a judge for the 2010 Floral Management Marketer of the Year Contest and also served as a judge for the Outstanding Varieties Competition.
Left: This year's winner is magical.
Three - Educational Sessions
I was honored and thrilled to participate in an engaging panel with two marketing muses. Our job was to present "Finding the Right Social Networking Strategy for Your Business,". Along with Georgianne Vinicombe of Monday Morning Flower and Balloon Company and Mandy Majerick, AIFD, PFCI of HotHouseDesign Studio. What an engaging response from the attendees ! It was great. Renato Sogueco, CIO at SAF put together a great panel and executed the session flawlessly.
It was a joy to see industry heavies, Brian Wheat of Lafayette Florist, Paul Bachman of Bachman's of Minnesota, Paul Brockaway of Conklyn's of Virginia, Don Coleman of Mayfield Florist and Kathy Dudley of The Bloomery in Butler PA all in the audience.
Just seeing a full audience engaged in our session was worth the time trip alone.
My only disappointment at the convention - why was I the only florist, grower or wholesaler there from Massachusetts? Massachusetts is one of the largest consumption states of fresh flowers in the United States. We even boast the most recent Florist of the Year. Yet me, Rick Canale of Exotic Flowers in Boston was the only Massachusetts representation. Too bad for Massachusetts and too bad for Boston florists.
Boston, MA - September 2010
Rick Canale, the Managing Director of Exotic Flowers, Boston's Premier Florist and www.exoticflowers.com has been chosen by the editorial staff at Floral Management Magazine to serve as a judge for the 16th Annual Marketer of the Year Contest.
Floral Management Magazine is published monthly by the Society of American Florists (SAF), the Association provides marketing, business and government services for the entire floriculture industry. Floral Management Magazine is a member benefit of SAF.
A $5,000 cash prize, sponsored by Design Master color tool, Inc., as well the the opportunity to be on the cover of the October 2010 issue of Floral Management.
What Makes a Winner?
Judges look for unique, innovative and successful marketing efforts. It can be a single campaign, or a series of promotional and advertising efforts over the course of a year or more.
Rick Canale won the contest in 2008 and has been asked to return as a judge for this years contest. Rick is one of seven judges from the floral and media industry.
"I am proud to serve the industry and my peers. This year's contestants inspired me in my own flower shop. The contest is a great opportunity for the floral industry to implement some marketing savvy in their own operations. I cannot wait to see the results at the SAF Convention in Orlando. " - Rick Canale
Viewpoint By Rick Canale
Admit it. You’re probably not paying
your sales staff enough. In our industry,
sales reps, on average, earn about $9-$12
an hour, compared to the $15 to $20 an
hour designers pull in. How can we ask our
salespeople to sell $500 funerals or $100
arrangements, when they only average
$20,000 per year as full-time employees?
Designers command the highest
wages (outside of management) in a
flower shop. Why? They have a unique
talent and years of training and education.
Are they worth it? Of course — an
accomplished designer creates wedding
and party referrals and controls your
cost of goods. However, without an experienced
salesperson invested in your
services and designs, those skills are
wasted. The sales reps are the lifeblood
of a flower shop. They establish and
maintain customer relationships — and
they have the potential to destroy them,
too. They can increase sales with a mere
suggestion: “Would you like a balloon
with that order?” (For a $50 arrangement,
a $5 balloon addition equals a 10
percent increase in sales.) And they can
sour a relationship with a surly response
or failure to listen.
The power a salesperson has over
your shop’s image and sales is no small
thing. Recognizing it is crucial to fair
compensation. Do I want a gum-chewing-
baggy-jeans-wearing student trying
to sell a $200 funeral piece to a grieving
life partner? No. I want a uniformed,
well-groomed, well-paid professional
with a business card and experience.
Experience is key; training is only a minor
factor. True sales skills come from experience.
Good sales reps also forage for
their own clients. They use Facebook and
Twitter and attend cocktail parties and
charity events to foster relationships —
personal and professional. Often, these
relationships develop when they are not
even on the clock. If shop owners don’t
compensate them well, how can we expect
to retain them?
A talented salesperson takes on the
role of a consultant. Expert consultants
learn as much as possible about what
they sell: where it comes from, how it is
prepared and how to care for it. Premier
sales reps not only offer upgrades, but also recommendations,
trust. An expert
leaves no detail
unnoticed. We are in a business of details
and it all begins in taking the order.
Some shops and consultants, including
Team Floral of Tulsa, Okla., are big
fans of commissions. Many shops’ financials
prove this incentive program works.
At Exotic Flowers, though, we do not
practice this. Veteran Entrepreneur and
Inc. magazine columnist Norm Brodsky
offers an argument against sales commissions:
People who are motivated by
commissions have the means to maximize
their pay, potentially at the expense
of other departments like operations
and billing. Instead of base plus commission,
Brodsky recommends paying
a salary plus a three-part bonus tied to
the success of the individual, the team
and the company. A veteran entrepreneur,
Brodsky’s experience has led him
to subscribe to a few other controversial
business ideas, including: don’t hire family
and friends (Google “Firing Carlotta,
Brodsky” for more) and competition is
good for business (Google “The More
the Merrier, Brodsky”).
Almost all retail companies rely on
sales reps and customer-service agents.
The key is to have all your employees
work together for the growth of the
company. At Exotic Flowers, our top four
sales reps have 100 years combined
experience, and we flaunt that fact in
our marketing materials. The public is
tired of sales clerks who just collect a
paycheck — and sales reps are tired of
playing second fiddle to designers, when
it comes to pay. Now is the time to differentiate
our industry from other retail
organizations. Let’s do that by leveling
the paying field.
Rick Canale, president of Exotic
Flowers in Boston, was named Floral
Management’s 2008 Marketer of the
Year. E-mail: email@example.com.