Florists: This Mother’s Day, cut out the middleman

Florists: This Mother's Day, cut out the middleman

Mother’s Day, which falls on May 13 this year, is just 18 days away. That means the next two weeks or so will be some of the busiest of the year for the flower industry. While local florists work to make sure orders are filled correctly and delivered to customers, there’s another group hoping to make a profit — online order gatherers. What are floral order gatherers? They’re a lot like a clearinghouse or brokerage. People order flowers from them online, but they don’t actually deliver them. Instead, they send those orders off to a local florist to arrange and deliver, while taking a healthy cut off the top. So why are florists warning people about them? For starters, many don’t know what they are. “There is definitely a percentage of people who don’t know they’re ordering from a clearinghouse sort of place, versus the actual florist,” said Tammy Field, manager of Dundee Nursery & Landscaping in Hutchinson. “And there are a lot of people who know they are ordering from a clearinghouse, but they think they’re getting a great deal. What they don’t understand is that the place they’re ordering from, whatever its name may be, is not who is filling the order. That order is being passed on to us local florists, and we don’t have any knowledge of what those people paid.” That means customers usually pay more for what they get than if they directly called a local florist. That’s because they’re paying for the middleman, which in this case is the order gatherers. “(Customers) will spend $100, but the order gatherers end up pocketing about 40 percent of that,” Kate Nolan, assistant manager at Crow River Floral in Hutchinson said. “So then (the order gatherers) send us $60, and we take delivery out of that. By the end of it, (customers) usually get a $50 bouquet. “The only way we know this,” she added, “is because people will call us and say, ‘Hey, I ordered from , I spent $100, and this bouquet looks like it’s $50.’ And we’ll say, ‘Well that’s because we were given $55, and you didn’t order from us, you actually ordered from an outside source posing as us.’” Sometimes customers don’t even get the flowers they want. That’s because when they use online order gatherers, they usually aren’t dealing with someone who knows what’s in season and available. “The people they are talking to who are order gatherers are not florists. They’re just people answering phones,” said Sally Hulbert, owner of Essence of Flowers in Litchfield.” What happens is the customer thinks they can get a product that’s not available, or the order gathering place has no idea what’s available at the location. So often they aren’t getting what they want, because we have the right to substitute if we need to, which we do.” “So we’ll get an order for a dozen orange roses, and maybe we’re not carrying orange roses that week,” Nolan said. “So we’ll […]