Are You Ready to Start a Local Flower Market?
As floral design styles shift more toward natural, loose arrangements, the demand for locally grown flowers has followed. This increased demand and awareness of local flowers from florists has created an excellent opportunity for flower farmers to fill a void in the traditional market. However, the challenge is how to supply the volume needed and the convenience offered by conventional wholesalers.
It can be tricky to know if it’s time to start a local flower market, but know you can begin with what I like to call a “local flower hub,” a smaller version, instead. One step at a time, as we say here at Team Flower!
Building the infrastructure for locally grown flowers in your community can seem daunting when tackled by one farmer or one florist at a time. When we collaborate, progress happens a lot of faster—and the rise of local flower markets in cities across the country is a tangible result of these types of collaborations.
These projects can be complicated and are a commitment of extra time and energy, so I want to give you the five things to think about when assessing whether your community may be a good fit:
Does your community have at least three experienced farmers growing cut flowers? I say experienced because I honestly believe you will hurt your local market in the long run by selling flowers that may not be up to professional standards. Farmers need a couple of years to gain experience to be able to produce a quality product reliably from week to week. Learn your craft first!
Are there already florists asking for or purchasing local flowers? While you will definitely be able to convert many shoppers to the benefits of local flowers, you need to have an established group of buyers—even if it’s small.
Does your community already have a local food infrastructure you could piggyback off of? In our community, we have a local food hub (it’s just a warehouse with coolers) that was excited to support farmers in a new way. Sometimes florists have large studios and would be willing to host a market when you’re just starting out. The key is to find something affordable and convenient. Your barn may be big, but are florists going to want to make the trip? Honestly, probably not.
This can vary based on your individual needs and resources, but some initial money is needed. Websites cost money to host, and you will probably have to pay some amount of rent. You may even want to hire a manager, so you don’t burn out the farmers. Look around for small grants that you may qualify for or be prepared to pitch in some cash to get this started. Start from the beginning, thinking about how the market will generate revenue to cover its own expenses.
You would think that at this point most of us are pretty tech-savvy, but not all of us are! You need a nice website, newsletter software, possibly an online shop, and you need someone who LOVES posting and sharing on Instagram. And if these tasks aren’t something you’d like to take on, you may need to hire people to complete them. Your pictures (for Instagram and your site) also need to be of good quality. Our main outlet for customer growth in our first year was through Instagram!
If after thinking through all of these points you are still excited about starting a local flower market or flower hub, then take the first step: Call a meeting and get going!
Photography By: Sandra Seagroves