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Save Money By Going Local for Flowers, Balloons

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Handful of BalloonsThis past week one of my best friends had the unfortunate experience of her mother needing emergency care. I spoke with Jim and we wanted to send her some “Get Well Wishes” in the form of a Mylar balloon bouquet. She is a wonderful woman and we hope that they will bring a bit of cheer during the remainder of her hospital stay!

I started to price out the balloon bouquets by looking at the usual suspects, 1800Flowers.com and ProFlowers.com. Both had comparable costs of about $33 + taxes and a $10 delivery fee. It seemed overpriced for six balloons, which you can get at a local grocery store for about three dollars each.

Go Direct to Local Merchants

I knew that those websites usually contracted out fulfillment of the orders, so I went local to find a better price. I searched for a local florist close to the hospital where my friend’s mom was staying. There were several in the area to choose from. I was able to find a local florist who would only charge $24 + tax and a $1.50 delivery fee. Still higher than what it’d cost for me to make it myself, but cheaper than if I had to drive it there!

The website for the florist wasn’t as fancy as 1-800-Balloons.com or Proflowers.com but I felt they could get the job done without any problems. I called the number for the shop and got the cleaning guy! He told me to call back in an hour when they opened. Instead of waiting, I ordered the balloons through their website and filled the “comments box” with the instructions for where the hospital room was. I immediately got an email back thanking me for my order.

I was really happy to be able to both find a better price and support a local business.

How to Find Local Merchants

What’s the easiest way to find a local merchant? The internet of course! I usually use Google Maps to find local merchants because you can enter in a location and what you’re looking for very easily.

First, enter in the address of where you want to send flowers or balloons. Then, click on the red bubble and you’ll be given the option to “Search nearby.” Type in what you’re looking for, such as “florist.” Then, your address will be replaced with a green arrow and all the nearby florists will be marked with red map icons. It won’t tell you who delivers flowers but you have a good list sorted by distance to your address!

Reasons to Go Local

There are several reasons you should consider going local:

  • The biggest reason for going local is the cost savings. You can find as good of a product, or better, and you do not have to pay the service charge the national chain tacks on!
  • A local provider will be more familiar with the delivery location compared to 1800Flowers.com, which may be shipping flowers in from out of town using FedEx or UPS.
  • You can talk to a person! It’s better and easier to talk to a human being and explain what you want than it is to fill out a comments window and select from a catalog. While I chose to use the website, I knew that they were a phone call away if I wanted to make a special change to the order.
  • Not only are you saving money, you are bolstering the local economy and you don’t have to pay for your flowers/balloons/whatever to be mailed from out of the area.

You can use this process for almost anything, from delivering flowers to even food. I highly recommend using this process.

NOTE: For those wondering why balloons and not flowers, we wanted to send balloons because you cannot send flowers or latex balloons to some hospital rooms. Also, most hospital rooms only allow 6 balloons at a time, due to the space restrictions, so if you know they already have some balloons you can send food as an alternate gift. Your recipient is bound to like the change from yucky hospital food! (who can say no to good food?)

(Photo: swamibu)

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17 Responses to “Save Money By Going Local for Flowers, Balloons”

  1. thomas says:

    I buy flowers locally all the time. Not only can you save money, but your options are much better. Very easy to look up a florist for the area you want to have flowers delivered.
    I typically ask for something like “seasonal arrangement for $30″ which usually will include the freshest/most in season arrangement.

  2. Martha says:

    That’s a really good idea Thomas! It seems that you can get a pretty good arrangement for $30, and you probably could get a better deal if you ask for the seasonal arrangement. I’ll have to try that the next time I have to purchase flowers.

  3. carla says:

    I always go local for flowers (usually the farmers markets) not necessary to save money but to support local businesses. Saving money is a bonus!

  4. mapgirl says:

    If you are familiar with the area, try calling up your local mom and pop store. I still order anniversary/Mother’s Day flowers from the florist/nursery that did my prom corsages 20 years ago. They’re still open and still proudly thriving.

    Seasonal and local are keys for buying flowers. A lot of Valentine’s Day carnations are grown in Mexico with a ton of pesticides.

    Alstromerias are the worst. They got old and drop all their flowers really fast. I like daylilies a lot b/c once you pluck off the pollen bits, the cut flowers will last for 2-3 weeks very easily. Roses are overrated. Mums are lovely too.

  5. Patrick says:

    I have done this before and can attest to the fact that you can save. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out which florist or shop to buy the flowers from, but you can get a better price, quicker shipping and fresher flowers.

  6. Suzanne says:

    We try to support our local merchants at every opportunity.
    Great idea to Google area that is not in our immediate area, although for flowers we have had great luck and good prices from our local florists.

  7. TStrump says:

    Buying local is always the best way to go.
    Besides getting a better, fresher product, it’s a great way to make valuable business contacts.
    Sometimes, cheaper isn’t always the cheapest in the long run.
    With flowers, why call one of those ridiculous 1 800 numbers and pay the extra markup?

  8. niki says:

    I cannot believe how much people will pay for that stuff! The dollar store has mylar balloons for a buck a piece and matching solid colored latex balloons 2/$1.

    Shoprite has bunches of assorted flowers 3/$10 everyday.

    Even picking up a nice potted houseplant could run only $10-15 at Home Depot or Lowes.

    It doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg to make a nice gesture to someone!

    :)

  9. Oscar79 says:

    I agree with Jim. Some of my family members live more then 4 hours away, they live in Europe. Of course it’s good to buy local when you can.

    • k says:

      If you order flowers for an overseas recipient on the ftd website, please click through to the appropriate country. Many items available in the US are not available outside the US (anything labelled “shipped direct in a gift box”). Also, other countries have different customs – vases aren’t provided, wine/food baskets aren’t available…

  10. mary ann says:

    I owned a balloon/florist shop before I retired. 1-800 Flowers charges the customer a delivery charge, in addition to the service fee, and when they send the order to the delivering florist, they (1-800 Flowers), do not give the delivery $ to the florist-they keep it!! Actually, the delivering florist receives 80%, and that is it. When we complained about this, 1-800 told us to put less stems in the arrangement to make up our delivery fee !!

    • k says:

      Don’t know about 1-800-Flowers, but ftd includes delivery in merch amount, hence my comment WRT “out of delivery area” charges. They will also suggest reducing stem count of expensive flowers, or substituting other flowers.

  11. Observer says:

    Think global, buy local!

  12. k says:

    Directly calling a florist in the recipient’s vicinity saves $$ because:

    1. you will avoid the service fee and/or shipping charged by online floral delivery firms.

    2. local florists can tell you immediately what they have on hand – so if you want something like an item you saw on a floral vendor’s website, you will get instant feedback regarding whether or not they have that container, the specific flowers, specific colors, etc. It might not be exactly what you had in mind, but you’ll find out right away what you can get for the amount you’d like to spend. Floral websites can’t provide instant feedback. If you don’t have anything specific in mind, ask the florist for a florist designed bouquet or dish garden that includes flowers/colors you know the recipient will enjoy (and you can let them know that Grandma despises anything pink and throws up at the sight of carnations).

    3. Local florists know hospital/nursing home policies (e.g. Mylar balloons only in ICU; plastic containers or baskets only in some areas on nursing homes).

    4. You can find out during your conversation whether or not the florist you called deliv ers to the recipient’s area – sometimes, florists have specific delivery areas and charge extra to go outside those areas. If that’s the case, you can ask the florist to recommend someone who does deliver there.

    5. Be nice to the local florist and take any time zone differences into account. Many florists are not open Sundays (except, in some cases, for funeral orders). Speaking of funeral orders – please have the deceased’s name, name of the funeral home, and time of service. .

    Sorry for the long post, just some interesting tidbits I picked up from a temp job.

  13. Great points. Though I like the ease of ordering online, I’ve never really been happy with the product for the price paid.

  14. ChicagoZen says:

    this is good as I ordered from the scammer 1-800-balloons.com and the shorted me several balloons, sent $40 bouquet when I paid $72

    this blog is a good post!


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