“Building a reputation along with store inventory is key to maintaining clients and shop success.”
CUSTOMERS TRUSTED ME AND NOW WE’RE SERVING THEIR GRANDCHILDREN
“I opened Bloomers in 1977 in Pacific Heights, a lovely neighborhood in San Francisco. It was the days when people entertained, and so we did flowers for the home, building our reputation of artistic arrangements, crafted with fresh flowers of exceptional quality. We’re still doing this. Fifty percent of our business is regular, everyday house flowers, and many of our customers are connected to those families who came when I first opened. Their grandkids entertain, but maybe not with the sterling silver! We are a true neighborhood flower and gift shop, where people stop in to see what’s new, chat with staff, shop and come back again.”
FINDING FRENCH RIBBON IN PARIS AND TREASURES IN THE CITY
“I wanted to feature gifts in the shop. An experienced business friend told me not to buy anything that couldn’t hold flowers so, if all else failed, I could use everything as a vase! As the business grew, I began to see what my customers would want to buy and they really helped me pick things out. I bought things on my travels and found people in the city who were importing interesting things. Our gift selection has grown and is now 50 percent of our revenue. I love curating the store, and the team is constantly moving things around to help our customers find something they missed when they were in last. We have regular shipments of new gift merchandise and we fill the shop with a dizzying influx of flowers three days a week on our market days. We are proud of our store and want it to be as beautiful as it can be.”
Patric Powell Founder, owner and creative director Bloomers San Francisco, Calif.
FUNERALS – NOT A DYING BUSINESS FOR US
Fewer and fewer florists are doing funeral flowers. They are, obviously, last-minute unplanned orders. Studio designers don’t have the capacity. Costco and the grocery stores in our area don’t do casket flowers, so this has become a great part of my business.
TREATING EMPLOYEES THE WAY I WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED
We have seven staff members, four being full-time. Many are longtime employees; one being here for 32 years. I think they stay because they love flowers, our customers and the work. I hope I’m easy to work with. I offer health insurance and adequate paid time off. I support each professionally and, when people work together for a long time, personally, too. Good staff is key. We can’t put out the product with the creative quality that we are known for without consistent talent.
It’s getting harder to find good staff. San Francisco is a super-expensive place to live. This past year, I’ve gone through five floral assistants who were unprepared for the work of the floral business. I’m not alone; every small retail store in this area is in the same predicament. However, I believe that the floral business isn’t a profession but a vocation. You have to love it, and you have to work hard.”
FORTY-TWO YEARS OF ECONOMIC UPS AND DOWNS
“Flowers are discretionary purchases. When the economy suffers, people in the flower business are really impacted. When this has occurred, I first cut myself – no salary, and no time off. I was able to borrow money and then, fortunately, pay it back. The most difficult part was having to lay off staff. One of my employees, who was last hired so first fired, went to work for two other flower shops. When the economy improved, she returned to work with us again. That was gratifying.”
THE ACCOUNTANT SAYS FIVE MORE YEARS!
“I get great advice from my accountant, who’s been with me for 10 years. She’s done wonderful things for my business, even though I find it difficult to follow her advice. She’s saying I need to work a few more years, which seems really easy because I love what I do and it doesn’t seem difficult. I have great young people who are stronger and smarter than me. Selling a successful floral shop isn’t easy. This is the kind of business where people can start their own place with a little rent and small inventory, so why would anyone buy my shop? Maybe one of my colleagues will be interested, when it’s time. Meanwhile, I’m happy, and if I can continue to make my customers and staff happy, then I’m thrilled!”