There are a lot of sources these days reporting that the brick & mortar flower shop is a thing of the past, and it isn’t uncommon to see retail florists trading in their keys and daily deliveries for studio or home based wedding and event design businesses. The cost on staff and overhead alone can make or break flower business. But my husband, Mick, and I are the crazies who aren’t ready to let the local flower shop drift into the past!
After running a wedding and event design business for 3 years, we decided that we wanted to expand our community reach by opening a store front, offering local deliveries and pick up orders as well as a home and gift boutique. After a year and a half of business as a storefront, we thought we’d share some of the lessons we’ve learned!
First – Find your niche! You can’t be everything to everybody. In the area where we opened our shop, there are 2 florists who’ve been around for at least 20 years. We didn’t open our shop to compete with them, but to offer something different! We couldn’t find a shop that delivered one-off bouquets in the same style that we were designing for weddings, so we decided to be that shop! We specialize in European style hand-tied bouquets wrapped in paper and we really try to guide our clients to let us do designer’s choice on flowers. For example, on Valentine’s Day, we offer a designer’s choice bouquet (with a list of the flowers and colors we will be using) at small, medium, large, or extra large price points. If you want a dozen red roses in a vase, we are not the shop for you! The same goes for prom corsages- we don’t do them. But we do alternative prom options like floral jewelry or head pieces!
Second – Be a savvy business person! Make sure that you have a good idea of what your overhead will cost and what, if any, additional staff you will need. First, we determined that the profit from our wedding business could support the added overhead long enough for the retail side to become profitable. Then we had to factor in marketing and networking costs, as local flower businesses are built on making local connections. While our wedding business is entirely built on referral and word of mouth, we have to feed the retail side a little more. We joined the Chamber of Commerce in our town, regularly contribute arrangements and gift cards to local fundraisers, and even sponsored a float in the town’s Christmas parade. Visibility and community-mindedness go a long way in a small, Texas town!
Lastly – Develop your brand! These days, people want to buy from people and in the age of social media, most of your clients will know you and your style before they actually contact you about flowers. Make sure that what you put on social media is representative of what you will sell so there’s no confusion! Know that branding is more than just your product- especially with a brick & mortar shop. Your space, your staff, your non-floral offerings (candles, giftables, etc.) should all be cohesive. Coming to our shop is an experience. We have a big, fun mural on our outside wall when you first arrive that’s super instagrammable. Once you make your way inside, you’re greeted by a friendly, knowledgeable designer and an adorable boutique full of specially curated items (our focus is on American made or socially conscious brands) and all of the products a.) we love and b.) have complimentary branding and design. Once you make it past the boutique, you enter the workspace, which is open to the public. We love our customers to see what we’re working on and wander through the buckets of flowers! All of the intentionality we put into design style, our building, and our packaging, combined with our personalities, come together to create our customer experience. And a positive customer experience is what establishes brand loyalty and repeat customers!
It’s hard work, and there’s so much more to it than 3 paragraphs in a blog post can communicate, but we feel strongly that brick & mortar is due for a revival, and we cannot wait to see the ways that you interpret the flower shop of the future!
Images 1-2: Dana Fernandez Photography