Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Great Tulip Experiment - Day 1

As retail florists lose more and more ground to supermarkets and big box retailers, we have to ask ourselves why? OK, the supermarket is definitely more convenient, being open all hours every day of the week, plus the one stop shopping thing. I know anyone who shops with me is making an effort and probably going out of their way, dealing with on street city parking, which I truly appreciate.

What about price? I know on some things I'm competitive on price and some I can't touch at the supermarket. They're buying flowers by the pallet, when I'm buying by the hand selected bunch. I have no negotiating power on price.

So if we don't have convenience and only have price some of the time, what do we have? Well, I know for sure I have selection. I don't think any supermarket can touch what I have for variety on a daily basis. Just check our "Fresh From the Flower Market" posts.

That leaves service and quality.

I decided to try our own little experiment by comparing the experience of buying a bunch of tulips at the local grocery store and see how we stack up. I'm hoping the service at our store is great, but I'm not impartial there, and I know we're not perfect either, so I'll leave out what I can't quantify.

But I am more than willing to go head to head on quality! If I'm wrong, well, it will be a learning lesson for us both!

So here are two bunches of tulips I bought at the grocery store a few blocks from my shop. They were $7.99 and "buy one get one free" with your store card, so I picked up two bunches. The price was great, as you can tell from the sticker on the package. The tulips that I sell cost more than that wholesale. Not such a great presentation, what with the price tag and the bundles slipped into a clear plastic bouquet sleeve if these were a gift. But perfectly fine if they're just for you.
Here are some of the Extra Grade tulips from New Jersey that I bought yesterday at the flower market. Colors were amazing, love the fringey ones!

And there was definitely nothing like these cherry pink and white beauties at the grocery store!

So here are my Extra Grade NJ tulips (on the left in white paper) lined up on the workbench next to the Dutch tulips I got at the grocery store (in clear plastic wrap). Ours are definitely taller, which is reflected in the price of $25 a bunch this week. The longer something takes to grow, the more it costs to grow it, the higher the end price.

This is how the tulips would come wrapped from our shop, in cellophane and tissue, with a raffia bow.

We also include cut flower food, which did not come with the grocery store tulips, and we would remove any floppy or damaged leaves before we wrapped up your flowers. Not so at the supermarket. We would also give you any of our very cool foliages to go with your flowers, I'm especially partial to the simplicity of beargrass with tulips, but I went with naked flowers for our comparison.

I have to say, though, that the supermarket tulips look pretty good. The stems are nice and green and firm, foliage as good as any I see on tulips. The greens can sometimes get a bit moldy as they're wrapped so tight in plastic.

So here's the set up for my very unscientific test - below, left to right -

Vase 1 - pink, peony type, tulips, the fanciest ones they had at the supermarket, with flower food. Even though they didn't give us food, I'm thinking some customers might have one of these packets lying in a drawer some where at home.

Vase 2 - purple, basic, Extra Grade tulips from New Jersey, from my shop, with flower food.

Vase 3 - purple basic tulips, from the supermarket, without flower food, they way they sold them.

Now it remains to be seen how well the flowers develop and last.

One note about the purple tulips in vase 3, that look droopy. They're not wilted, they're just bent because they've been in a box for a long time. Tulips are both phototropic (oriented by light) and geotropic (oriented by gravity). When they've been lying down in a box for a while, they start to curl up, away from the earth, like they're growing. They should straighten out.

Now we wait! I will take a photo every day.

1 comment:

Tina Z said...

I will be in on Saturday to get some tulips . . . they look amazing.


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