Valentine’s Day: Survival Tips From A South Island Florist

It’s February. which means that many of you are trying to decide on the perfect gift for that special someone this valentine’s day. Spark Magazine spoke to sandra lang, the owner of Marguerita Florist for the last 22 years, about how to chose the perfect floral arrangement, plus the challenges of surviving in an increasingly competitive market.

Can you give our readers a little of your background?
I Started work for Arthur Barnetts Marguerita Florist in 1982 as a young 17 year old and was promoted to manager in 1986. I continued to learn and participate at National levels in floristy and bought the business when Arthur Barnetts rationalised to their core business in 1990. 
What would you suggest as the ideal Valentine’s gift?
Nothing says it better than flowers.  Everyone loves to receive flowers.  The best option is a mixed seasonal bouquet to include a single rose for love with a personal message included.  Leave it to the florist to deliver your valentine the perfect gift.
In your time at Marguerita, what changes have you seen in your industry?
The major change is non-trained florists opening up stores.  Opening of other outlets like supermarkets, corner stores, service stations. In our industry now we have very few qualified florists, with actual training. I am one of only 
three Diploma qualified florists still active with a working studio in Otago and Southland. Customers are unaware 
of the training and skill that a true florist has and are [often] happy to accept most things whether made correctly 
or not. We have a  lot more [businesses] selling flowers in the Dunedin area, 
but the market has not grown. [Some are]selling roses at $9.99 per dozen 
but they are picked in India, prepacked 
in chemicals and imported into the country. Once again the public have no idea but it is price driven and we as florists cannot even purchase our roses, which are beautiful and fresh, for this price.

What are your plans for February 15?

Just another day at the store. This day for us can be just as busy believe it or not.  The people that had forgotten that Valentine gift come in to try and make a peace offering  – you can always guarantee a few. Otherwise we sit back and count the money and be thankful we have survived another Valentines – and have made a profit – once all the flowers and wages are accounted for.   It takes about a week to recover from this day.  It is a fun day but if the public knew what we florists did to make it all happen they would have a better understanding why a gift wrapped rose may sell for $30.00
What plans do you have for the future of the business?
This year I want to expand my Internet Sales, so I will be putting effort into this. Driving a change that we can be the total No.1 gift supplier in Dunedin City. Also keeping a firm hold on the books. Started this last year thanks to Carl and 10X Dunedin and are beginning to see the benefits in what I have done.
By Neil Donnelly

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