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Last minute Mother’s Day flowers

Lauren Halsted, Tribune staff writer

Nightmares ended the sleep of a florist early Friday morning.

“I woke up at 4:20 a.m. panicking because I didn’t think we were going to get our flowers,” Cy Barnett, a floral designer at Enchanted Florist, said Saturday afternoon.

The phone was ringing off the hook with last-minute Mother’s Day orders from panicked customers. Disappointment could be heard in their voices when the designers had to tell them the sad truth.

“He called with the right attitude,” Barnett said about one call. “‘It’s too late isn’t it?’ ‘Yep’ I said, ‘it is.'” They just didn’t have enough flowers to fill any more orders.

This year, Enchanted Florist experienced a typical Mother’s Day volume. However, so many people waited until the last minute that florists ran out of flowers early, Kristin Scherwinski, a former full-time employee who was called in for re-enforcement, said.

The flower industry is unpredictable. The product is perishable, and people expect only the freshest arrangements. A flower shop doesn’t want to order hundreds of flowers and watch the unused product wither away in the post-holiday dry spell.

And there’s also the problem of taking too many orders. “You end up shooting yourself in the foot if you over-order,” Barnett, a 17-year veteran of the industry, said. When this happens, the shop actually loses money. All profits are paid to the employees in overtime costs and to the suppliers for excess product, he added.

Finally, at 1 p.m., a hero in the eyes of the designers walked through the door. It was the floral supplier bringing a delivery of last-minute flowers. The day was saved and final orders could be created.

Even with limited supplies, the designers did everything they could to accommodate customers. A South Lake Tahoe resident who didn’t want to give his name, walked in at just the right time. He was a regular customer looking for a mixed spring arrangement for his wife. Michelle Rust, the shop’s other full-time designer, explained the situation to him. “We really don’t have much left.”

After some discussion, Rust agreed to a $30 wrap arrangement. He walked away with a smile on his face and a gift for his wife.

This year, the most popular items were seasonal spring mixes. The cooler overflowed with irises, lilies, tulips, daisies, and of course, roses in vibrant colors. The average arrangement sold for $45.

Not everyone waited until the last minute. “There were some really great people who said (delivery on) the 9th was fine and called (to order) on the 6th,” Barnett said. Ordering early is important because it ensures that the shop will purchase enough flowers.

After days of filling orders, designers dream about Monday morning, when people have drained their flower budget. “We’re exhausted,” Barnett said with a huge sigh.

The lesson to be learned: order early. Your florist will thank you, and probably give you a nicer arrangement.

— Lauren Halsted can be reached at 542-8012 or lhalsted@tahoedailytribune.com


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