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Discount Flowers for an October Wedding

May 10,1998
Lisa wrote: Hi, Mr. Bill! I am getting married in October...and am learning about flower arranging so I might cut the cost of one part of my day. I heard that flowers are less expensive if you deal with "bucket" florists and that it is cheaper to buy flowers that are in season. My questions are:
  1. How can I tell which florists are, indeed, "bucket" florists or wholesalers? Yellow pages is no help.
  2. Is there any special way I should approach these dealers to get the most for my (limited) money?
  3. Where can I find good information on which flowers are in season in October(for the Chicago area)
Your advice (and reading sources) is greatly appreciated!
You are asking me to reveal deep, dark secrets that the florists don't want you to know! I may have to go into hiding after this, but since it's for a good cause... When your florist sends his order into the grower or floral distributor, usually he is going to double the price on any materials he uses, and add a little more if he's going to arrange the flowers for you. I guess that's fair enough, after all it is a 'for profit' business. If you are just buying a bouquet for mom, you won't even notice...However if you are spending hundreds of dollars on flowers, the savings by doing it yourself could be amazing. There's always a catch! Most (not necessarily all) growers and flower distributors will not sell the flowers or supplies to you at wholesale prices unless you have the correct licenses.(it's kind of an written and unwritten law to protect the industry) I know nothing about the licensing requirements in Illinois, but this is the situation in Seattle. You will need:
  • State revenue registration...a few bucks
  • State nurseryman.....$40??
  • Seattle flower vendors license....$75??
What it will cost in other cities, states or counties will vary considerably, so you'll have to add up the costs, and decide if it is worth it yourself. In Washington a majority of the flowers sold in October were grown and shipped from California. In Chicago, they probably come from Florida. Flower seasons have little to do with the current availability of a particular variety any more, as it did in the past. Technology, modern growing practices, and speedier transportation are the reasons for this. I've included a few Chicago wholesalers names in your e-mail. All that I could suggest to you would be to go and check these places out. Find a smaller business rather than one that has dozens of semi trucks coming and going, the big guys won't even talk to you. If you can find a wholesale supplier that still has the personal touch and attitude, he'll be more than happy to listen to what you want, and steer you in the right directions as far as what he will expect on your part, license-wise. Hey, you never know, maybe you were meant to be a professional florist yourself.

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