A grocery store is usually the next step up on
the price ladder. You can probably get a good
deal if you happen to shop right after the flowers
are delivered, says Karen Marinelli, a Pennsylvania-based
floral industry professional who consults with
retail and wholesale florists. But because neither
grocery stores nor big-box stores are set up to
care for flowers in terms of refrigeration and
a watering regimen, quality deteriorates fast.
"Temperature is really important
for cut flowers. A difference of five degrees
makes a huge difference in vase life," says
Marinelli. Flowers consistently kept cold from
the time they are picked through transportation
and retail display should last 10 days in the
home, she says. But if you're looking at a display
of bouquets poking out of buckets containing room-temperature
water that may be dirty or slimy, forget it. Puddles
on the floor by the display are another red flag.
Bacteria and mold will flourish in the stagnant
water and your flowers will suffer for it.
Amy Stewart, author of "Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers," advises avoiding flowers kept near the produce section, too. Many produce items, especially apples, give off ethylene gas that makes flowers wilt.
"I'm not against people buying flowers in a supermarket or a superstore. Go for it," Marinelli says. "But if there's any question, don't buy it. Even if you pay an extra $5 at the flower shop, it's going to last through the holiday season."
"Supermarkets and (stores like) Sam's are going to give you the best price," says Paul Goodman, an Oklahoma-based consultant who runs Floral Finance Business Services. "If you want to have design services and you want to have delivery, that's the retail florist's market."
Florists fall into two categories: physical and
online. Marinelli advocates florists because,
unlike big-box stores or supermarkets, they have
an incentive to care for the plants. "The
florist paid for them the minute they got them,"
Goodman likes florists for their service, but that means higher prices.
"The retail florist is in the special occasion business," he says. "It's not going to be the cheapest, by any stretch of the imagination."
Marinelli and Stewart agree that
buying online can be risky. If you want flowers
delivered to long-distance loved ones, it's best
to order directly from a florist in their city.
You can use the Internet to find a florist, but
don't place the order online, Marinelli and Stewart
say. Chances are you'll have found what the industry
calls "order gatherers" or "fake
florists" who will charge a hefty $10 to
$15 fee. FTD.com and 1-800-Flowers.com are the
top two order gatherers in the industry, Goodman