Valentine’s Day is around the corner. If you are looking to buy a bouquet for the one you love, it could end up costing you a pretty penny. So, where can you go to buy a dozen of the best flowers that isn’t going to empty your wallet? Leave it to your Savings Angel to give you the insider information on buying flowers. I’ll rank these in order of “least likely to get great quality for a great price” to where the most serious of flower buying folk will make their purchase.
1. This should go without saying – but for those (gentlemen) who wait until the very last moment, do NOT pick up flowers at convenience stores, gas stations, and drug stores. Sadly, if you wait until your commute home from work on February 14th, this may be what you are relegated to, however. Convenience stores are generally going to have the lowest standards for quality and will likely have some of the largest markup prices for what you actually get.
2. Florists will sell you a gorgeous bouquet of roses professionally arranged. They’ll be clean, perfumed, set in a vase with greens, and may include delivery. It may be hard to appreciate the difference between a store-bought arrangement and a professional display unless you see the two arrangements next to each other. I’ve compared them and the difference can be substantial. The presentation comes at a premium, however. You’ll pay $70 to $80 for an arranged long stem bouquet (one dozen roses in a vase or box & ribbon. Two dozen will cost you $140-$150. Only you can say if it is worth the investment – or if that money would be better used elsewhere. However, there are some lower cost options that might give you every bit the reward.
3. Internet florists like Proflowers.com, Teleflora, FTD.com, 1800Flowers.com are popular and you can save yourself $10-$30 if you find a great daily deal, coupon code, or special offer. Without such offers, however, you aren’t likely to save much money. The flowers will likely come from the same florist as in (2) above – but you will get them delivered. My suggestion before clicking purchase is to call your local florist and let them know what offer you’ve found and ask if they will match it. One florist I spoke with said that they will in many cases. When fulfilling orders through an Internet reseller, they lose a large percentage of their profit margin and would rather keep an extra $20 for themselves rather than go through the hassle of working with the reseller. If the first florist you call will not work with you, call another. Valentine’s Day is the biggest day of the year for most florists.
4. If you can find one during this season, farmer’s markets and roadside sellers don’t have the overhead of a traditional florist or marketing expenses of Internet reseller. You can generally get a fair price if you are working with a good reseller. I would make sure to understand quality vs. pricing before making a purchase, however. Just because it may feel like you are getting a great deal doesn’t mean you are.
5. Conventional retailers (big box stores and supermarkets) may offer you an attractive price and if you are operating from within a smaller budget and cannot qualify for (6) below, may be your best bet. However, I’ve reviewed flowers from several locations and in every instance, I’ve found that roses from nearly every conventional retailer were much more likely to contain tears, bruises, and wilting. By themselves, the defects may not be noticeable – but when you compare a chain store bouquet to a premium arrangement, you’ll quickly spot the anomalies.
If you time your review of the available bouquets immediately after they arrive, you’ll get first pick of the litter. Having the first choice can mean a big difference in quality. Call a couple retailers beforehand to learn their delivery days and times. You’ll want to stick with a retailer that gets shipments daily. You can expect to pay $12 to $30.
6. Do a search for wholesale florists in your area. If you can qualify to purchase from a wholesaler, you will be shocked at what you can get when you “take out the middle man.” To begin with, you’ll need to be a business owner and have a tax id number. Also, wholesalers may only sell to you for the express purpose of reselling – so please call beforehand. If you do not have a tax id number, and the wholesaler does not have such requirements, get a hold of a friend who operates a small business and make a purchase together. If you have any questions, simply ask. The wholesalers I spoke with were very helpful, but very busy. Wholesale florists typically run very early hours – so plan on visiting before work and not after work because they’ll likely be long gone at that time.
Why should you buy from a wholesaler if you qualify? I was able to buy 25 long stem (40 cm) red roses for $32.50. The greens and baby breath were a couple dollars. Two dozen arranged roses from my local florist would have cost $139. This means your florist is charging you $104.50 for cleaning, arranging, a ribbon, and some wrapping paper.
I don’t mean to bemoan these great business owners. They work very hard and have many other expenses involved. Also, there is some skill involved in arranging flowers. This being said, I was able to watch several flower arranging videos online with my oldest daughter and we created a great bouquet for my dear wife. Make sure to do a search for how to cut roses as well. A bit of technique can mean a more attractive arrangement which will last longer.
Buy your premium roses from a wholesaler, if you can. Otherwise, buy regular roses from a regular retailer or farmers market or roadside stand. Shop early and do NOT pay more than $18 a dozen – unless you are sure you are getting better quality or cannot find an adequate dozen. Make sure to present your roses with a vase, greens, and a nice card to your loved one on the day of all days to celebrate your love.
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