This 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 )