A good wholesale florist is the most important supplier a flower shop can have. Your success is tied to being able to sell floral arrangements and mixed bouquets and to do this consistently and affordably, florists will need to get bulk flowers, plants, and floral supplies from a variety of sources. Common sources of supplies and fresh-cut flowers for florist shops come from local farms, wholesalers, flower markets, and flower auctions.
Wholesale florists may grow their own flowers, but in order to keep a wide variety of stock year-round, larger operations will also import flowers from Columbia, Netherlands, Ecuador, and Costa Rica.
The Wholesale Florist and Florist Supplier Association is a good source for information regarding the floral industry. They also have a great wholesale florist Finder tool. This tool will help you find wholesale florists who are invested in the industry and who will work hard to help you be successful.
Here are the top 10 reasons why retailers buy from wholesale florists, according to national research conducted by WF&FSA.
- Stand behind their products, even if that means replacement or full credit.
- Offer the flexibility that allows retailers to buy in either small or large quantities.
- Offer price discounts for quantities purchased in bulk or standing orders.
- Provide reasonable credit terms.
- Introduce retailers to try different materials, different flowers, and services to help them stay competitive.
- Allow retailers to try new products before they buy them.
- Educate retailers about important crops – from the field to the retail market – especially the busy Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day holidays.
- Host design seminars and distribute product materials.
- Jointly support consumer marketing programs with retailers.
- Identify, process, and assemble products for retailers.
What if there isn’t a wholesale florist isn’t near me?
Depending upon your geographic location and your business plan, your local wholesale florist may not be a good fit for you. In this case, it’s time to seek out alternative suppliers. Your first place to look will be online flower sellers. Look for vendors who can promise the shortest supply chain between the grower and your doorstep. Also, look for a vendor who can offer an uninterrupted cold chain. Right now, the only online wholesale florist that can promise this is Teleflora’s Stems and Bunches. This service, offered only to Teleflora customers utilizes the existing cold chain to deliver flowers. Other services use the shipping agents such as FedEx and UPS to get flowers from the port of entry or broker to your door. You’ll need to weigh the pros of convenience and selection of online ordering with the cons of delivery delay and temperature fluctuation on your flowers.
Surprising as it may seem, in some business plans, supermarkets and big-box stores are proving to be viable suppliers of fresh flowers. This works in locations where delivery charges and minimum orders drastically reduce the profit margin on small flower orders.
In any case, big box stores, online stores, and home centers are viable options for purchasing specialty hardgoods. These stores have buying power that far exceeds that of many wholesale florists. If you can justify the shopping and travel time, if you can justify paying by cash or credit card, and if you don’t mind the crowds, consider purchasing your specialty containers at these normally retail outlets.
It will take some time to find the optimal suppliers for your flower shop business. As the flower industry keeps evolving, don’t be afraid to check out new suppliers to make sure you are providing the best product to your customers.