Flower Brokers: The Ugly Truth

October 29, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Almost everyone is familiar on some level with “national florists” who advertise heavily online and can ship flowers anywhere. They claim to “partner” with local florists in order to fill orders placed through their website, and they promise the world to their customers. It is easy to be charmed by the myriad photographs of colorful, tastefully arranged bouquets on their websites, and it is fair to assume that the order you place with them will arrive looking exactly like the picture.

Bait and Switch

Unfortunately, if you have ever done business with one of these companies, chances are you have been disappointed. From the flowers arriving on the wrong day, to the recipient not receiving anything remotely close to what the photo on the website looks like, to the flowers being different than what was promised, or of poor quality—the problems are endless. You may have wondered: what on earth happened? The answer is simple: these national companies aren’t really florists.

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They are “flower brokers”. They do not “partner” with anybody to physically create your arrangement—they merely gather orders online and outsource them to the nearest local florist that they work with. While it may not seem like that big of a deal, flower brokers are undermining local florists with every order that placed. Worse yet, the customer is the one who ends up paying the price.

Buyer Beware

There are two major problems that come with using flower brokers. The first one is simple: they outsource so many orders to so many different local florists throughout the country, there is no possible way they can ever know for sure that any florist has the correct flowers in stock for any particular order that is placed. If you have ever placed an order online with a big flower broker, only to have a local florist call you and ask if a flower substitution can be made, now you understand why.

The second problem is a matter of profit. Flower brokers typically charge up to $25 for the “convenience” of forwarding your order to a local florist. This is a fee that you, the customer, pay when you place the order, which the broker immediately pockets. In some cases, the fee is so steep that the florist sees little or no profit from your purchase. So not only is the florist losing money, but you are also wasting extra cash for absolutely no good reason. Wouldn’t you rather see all of your money invested directly into your flowers—not some broker’s profit margin?

Buy Local, Buy Proud

Steve Papoulakos, owner of Vogue Flowers

Steve Papoulakos, owner of Vogue Flowers

If you enjoy the convenience of buying online, there are many local florists that offer a convenient online ordering system—just like the national brokers do. The difference is that these companies are actual florists, who know exactly which flowers they have in stock, and can ensure that the order you place will look just like the photograph. VogueFlowers.com is one fantastic example of a local florist based out of Richmond, VA offering an extensive online selection of flowers for any imaginable occasion. You don’t have to be a Richmond local, though—they ship everywhere. Buy with pride—skip the flower brokers, support your local florist!