Well, my friend, have I got some great places for you to shop! We are so lucky to live in an age where the retail environment has so many outlets that have what we need to create awesome flower arrangements. When I changed from traditional retail to being a studio florist, I was amazed at how much affordable product was right in my own backyard. When I see a good deal, I grab up the item so I’ve got plenty of things in stock to work with. From containers to birds and butterflies, anything you could imagine is available at our local stores. I know the economy over the last few years has allowed for many of these retail stores to pop up in every city, and it’s to our advantage. What the heck, if it makes our flower arranging life easier, why not take advantage of it? All these venues sell retail, adding sales tax to the total, depending on the county and state you live in. Another post will concentrate on wholesale (no tax charged and you will need a resale license to purchase from them) outlets to purchase from. Following is a list of my favorite retail stores with some ideas what can be purchased at each (this will save you some time when you go out shopping for all the great supplies to create your arrangements with).
Here’s a list of brick and mortar stores where I get many of my local “hard good” floral supplies:
DOLLAR TREE—-dollar tree.com
All sizes of glass vases, ceramic mugs and containers, add-ons (like birds, butterflies, small statues), styrofoam, baskets, gray moss, glass stones, rocks, wire, plastic containers, balloons, candles and candle holders. And everything is just a dollar! On their site, you can order cases of vases that you select and they’ll be delivered to the closest store for you to pick up. Really great for larger weddings and events.
99 CENT STORE— 99centstore.com
While this store has similar products as the Dollar Tree, ours is a bit larger with more variety of items. They do have various smaller ceramic containers that are great for arrangements that the Dollar Tree doesn’t have. These would also fit a 4″ plant as well. Good color assortment for baby arrangements and such. I’m sure each store carries different items depending on the clientele they service and the area you live in. You guessed it! Nothing over 99cents. This company will ship from their on line store as well for you to pick up at the brick and mortar location.
I don’t love shopping in Walmart (too crowded!) but the deals are incredible on certain items. And they carry fresh plant material as well (for garden planters, etc.). Larger inexpensive glass urn vases (the Dollar Tree/99 cent stores don’t carry these) and more quality square vases, artificial flowers (but not great), supplies (such as wire, wood wired picks), glass stones, various types of containers in different departments, fresh floral foam and dried foam (for artificial arrangements), small and larger green plants, many outdoor plants, candles and candle holders. The drinking glasses I show below are only $9.99 for 16! They make great centerpiece designs and quite a value. Sometimes we need to think out of the box to give our clients great floral designs while making a decent profit.
JO ANN CRAFTS— joann.com
This store is a great fabric and crafty store, but they still have some good florist supplies such as wire, picks, tapes, etc. It’s a nice clean store with great help from the employees. They have good discount coupons (up to 50% off one item) so you can get some upscale containers at a good price. Their artificial flowers are pretty good as well. Sometimes they carry different types of containers than the other stores. These are a great buy when they discount them 30% or more, which seems to happen after they’ve had items in stock a couple weeks.
This is the big daddy of them all, and they are stocked with every kind of craft item you could need. They are a bit higher priced than Joanne’s on some items, but with your 40% coupon (they hardly ever have 50% off coupons like Jo Anns) the prices can be very fair. Especially on certain containers that you may need for one special flower arrangement. Jo Anns has some better prices than Michael’s on bags of reindeer moss (I love using this in designs) and certain supplies for flower arrangements. Good quality artificial flowers and greens; they have 50% off sale a few times a year which makes the cost wholesale or a bit less.
Bevs is a great place as well, good deal of fabric, but also lots of floral/craft items. They’ve got 40% coupons as well, and will honor other stores coupons. I love that! I like going there (rather than Michael’s) for certain things like corsage wristlets, rhinestone additions and the like. Beverly’s team does a good job at displaying the many home décor items they keep in stock, which makes shopping there so much more fun!
They’ve really done some great things with these stores, great displays and merchandise. I love checking in a couple times a week to see what new products they have to entice me with. I always find awesome containers at great prices to give my clients incredible value. The cool thing is, there is (almost) never the same thing twice! That makes every floral arrangement a unique creation for that special someone. I once had a plant installation for a new cancer facility in our area and they took forever to approve the budget. They ended up giving me only 4 days to plant product together, delivered and setup! I got into gear, went to my local TJ Maxx and Home Depot, and got it together in time and they looked awesome.
Now for the fresh flowers outlets that you can buy locally from:
Trader’s has THE best floral product of all the chains. The prices are great, and the flowers come in solid variety bunches. Or you can buy mixed bunches, but the pricing isn’t as good. They carry hydrangea, sunflowers, gerbera daisies, mums, alstroemeria lilies, roses, and other varieties depending on the time of year. Their selection of orchid plants is awesome as well, with wonderful price points. The prices at Trader Joe’s is as good or better than wholesale, and totally accessible for all your floral arrangement needs. Many of the bunches are #2s (meaning shorter stems, a bit smaller heads sometimes); most of the time this doesn’t make a different as we cut off the stems anyway. Their product works great for wire service orders where the designs are compact and clustered. Makes me so happy to have this quality and pricing available at a moment’s notice when I get orders I didn’t know were going to come in. They will order quantities for you if you give them some notice, but everything comes in mixed colors. If you needed 10 bunches of a certain color, chances are you won’t get all the same. Their sunflowers are especially nice and fair priced.
Good selection and fair pricing of select bunches. They carry true long stem roses by the dozen, very nice quality for bigger designs. This store is geared to sell pre-made flower arrangements as well, but the quality is lacking for the discerning eye. I do get flowers here on occasion, but not as often as Trader Joe’s.
Costco seems to be consistent with quality and varieties they carry. I have bought flowers a couple times from them, but not on a consistent basis. They do have a good selection and pricing on dozen rose bunches, but some of the other varieties are more expensive per bunch. Of course, it depends on what you’re looking for. Their racks are always neat and well stocked.
LOCAL FARMER’S MARKETS—-
Many growers show their wares at your local Farmer’s Market, with lots of varieties to choose from. This may be “hit and miss” depending on what they have available. Form a relationship with the vendors, learning what they might be carrying the next few weeks. Then you can pre order your flowers so you know they’ll be waiting for you. Your area might only have them in the spring and summer due to weather; that’s when you’ll have beautiful product for your wedding and events. Nothing fresher than Farmer’s Market flowers and plants!
Here’s some locations for you to purchase your plants and such for container gardens, etc.:
They have a consistent amount of plants they carry, green and blooming, with different varieties coming in every week or so. The quality is great and pricing very fair. Their larger plants are especially nice and work well for larger orders you may have. The blooming varieties are perfect for so many things, and many are florist quality and pricing. It’s a great place to get fresh plant items as they carry all sizes of plants from 4″ to 5 gallon and larger. I really get excited when I walk through the plant aisles and see all the incredible plants available….almost like a kid at a toy store!
ORCHARD SUPPLY HARDWARE—osh.com
Not a bad selection of fresh plant materials, but just not as extensive as Home Depot. I get things there now and then, and they are always in my radar to check out what they’ve gotten in. What I do like about OSH is that it’s a much smaller store and easier to get in and out of.
There have been some jobs where I’ve needed some cooler, more upscale containers for outdoor jobs. That’s where those beautiful locally owned nurseries come in to play. They stock many more custom containers for certain clients. Yes, they are more expensive. But they will usually give you 30% off larger containers and they have a much better selection of certain plant items. As long as you make money, enjoy these nurseries and get some great ideas!
If you just don’t want to take the time to search for local vendors, there are tons of online sources that are solid suppliers with great product. These vendors are perfect for hard goods and fresh cut flowers. If it’s fresh plant material you need, I’d go search the local stores for these. There’s just no replacing the visual and feel of the plant product for the specific creations you would be designing.
FLORAL AND WEDDING SUPPLIES.COM—floralandweddingsupplies.com
This site has a great list of professional florist supplies. This site is easy to navigate and has all types of supplies, including florist tapes, glues, funeral supplies, baskets, wedding supplies, etc. Their prices are good and really great service. They ship from Northern California; I ordered some things and they got to me two days after I ordered them. Now that’s service! They also have a section for fresh flowers as well so you can check that out to see if they have what you need for weddings and every other creative design you create.
Another site with tons of florist supplies, maybe even more that the site listed above. Their prices are okay (not wholesale by any means) but with a complete list of inventory, you might be fine with that. They claim that if you find the same item cheaper at a different site, they will beat it by 15%! So there you go… There are shipping charges, so you have to watch out for the cost add on. Large boxes of floral foam and such will up your bill as they are bigger items. They also have fresh flowers they can ship to you. Pricier than the grocery stores but the selection is there so you can order and have them shipped to your doorstep and not waste any time running around. Great selection of supplies, but they don’t carry funeral items. Easy navigation of the site and I liked their products. They ship from San Diego so that will affect the shipping depending on your location. One thing I think is incredibly cool is that they have a “live chat” feature so you can write questions and interact with a real person right away. Any site that does that is on it in my book.
Another pretty complete site, but a bit more geared for the craft person. Saying this, they did have a good assortment of true florist supplies that included the basics such as tools, glues, tapes, etc. Nice looking site with clear and easy navigation. Prices good on some things, not as good on others. But it’s still a good spot to get your supplies. Shipping will be added on as well.
This South American company has been in business for over 25 years and are dependable, shipping within 3 days of when the product is harvested. Fresh quality, quite a few varieties to choose from, and delivered right to your door. I’ve gotten to know the owner, Alberto Williamson, and he’s a right on guy. So order away and create beauty…..
I given you a ton of information to absorb and check out. Use your brain, figuring what works best for you, your budget, what your creating. Whether it’s an event, a daily design, or other type of floral or décor creation, this selection should help your journey with availability and pricing. Travel on my friend and enjoy your floral hunting!