Every year, B/A Florist experiences high volumes of calls, delivery requests, and in-shop flower purchases on and around Valentine’s Day. This year, however, the local family-owned business will be closing their sales floor to customers from Feb. 8 to Feb. 14. Instead, customers can order bouquets and arrangements online or by phone. The orders will then be available for curbside pickup or delivery.
B/A Florist Owner Laurie Van Ark said this year the shop is doing things differently in order to keep employees and customers safe.
“Having been here in this location alone since 1984, the community is very used to being able to just stop and pop in and choose the flowers they want, but they cannot do that this year,” Van Ark said. “They’ve got to go to our website.”
In the summer months, B/A had offered contactless pick-up, but due to the cold temperatures, the shop is going to be using runners this Valentine’s Day. Customers can pull up in the parking lot, and stay in their cars. A runner will come out, take their information, and bring out their curbside orders.
Ordering flowers for delivery is also a popular tradition for many customers, and B/A is expecting that option to be even more popular this year. Delivery driver Aram Kabodian said the shop usually has four delivery drivers, but this year, there will be ten pairs of drivers.
“Usually, we have a couple hundred flowers delivered on Valentine’s Day and quite a few the day before, also,” Kabodian said. “We’re anticipating that’s how most people are going to get their flowers this year – delivered.”
He encourages all customers to make sure that supplied phone numbers and addresses are accurate to ensure a smooth delivery.
B/A Manager Cheryl Fountain wants customers to know they can also add greeting cards, chocolate, and other candies to their online orders. Options include chocolate bars, caramels, turtles, peanuts, almonds, pretzels, and more.
Although customers can’t step inside the shop to browse bouquets or build their own arrangement, Van Ark says shopping locally is still a better move than utilizing a third-party national service. B/A employees have heard many stories of unhappy experiences from customers who opted for that service instead of shopping locally for their floral needs.
“In our industry, a lot of people don’t really understand the difference between calling my shop or calling [a third-party service],” Van Ark said, “but there is such a huge difference. When they order through [a third-party], the consumer will be charged a relay fee just for going through that service. Those orders go through basically an operator that’s a phone bank, not florists.”
So, ordering direct from local florists means dollars spent stay in the local economy, providing jobs in the community.
Van Ark also said that because the national-service operators are not florists, that creates a gap in customer service, industry experience, and even creativity. Delivered products often look very different than pictured, because of things like in-season flowers depending on regions.
“The sender is often not happy with the outcome,” she said.
If online ordering sounds intimidating, the staff at B/A Florist is available to work with you over the phone for custom arrangements. Online options also allow for customization like color preferences and desired scent levels. Roses prove to be a “safe bet,” but the staff also enjoy when customers choose “designer’s choice.” Van Ark said it’s a smart move for customers too.
“We have so many customers that want us as professionals to choose something. With designer’s choice, that allows us to pick the most colorful, or the biggest, whatever is in front of us. It actually would be beneficial to a sender if they really don’t have an idea.”
Van Ark asks customers for patience this year, but assures that even though ordering will be different, they can still expect the same level of passion and dedication they’ve come to expect from B/A over the past 41 years.
Editor’s note: We updated this article to generalize the discussion to “third-party national service providers” rather than naming specific ones due to Van Ark’s post-publication concerns about naming specific services.
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