From growers and wholesalers to importers and retail florists of every size, each sector of the floral industry has a role to play in this year’s Petal It Forward campaign on Oct. 24. Whether joining the feel-good effort for the first time or repeating past successes, companies and shops from coast to coast plan to do their part to spread the message that giving and receiving flowers is not just good for business, but beneficial to people’s moods.
“I love that our industry sets aside a day to spread love through flowers,” said Robyn Peterka of Frank Adams Wholesale Florist in Portland, Oregon. “The growers donate, the wholesaler distributes, and maybe also participates by handing out flowers in public, and the retailers and studio florists take time to make bouquets and distribute them — all to demonstrate the amazing feeling of giving and receiving flowers.”
Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers in Fallbrook, California, is getting ready again. For the 2017 Petal It Forward, Resendiz Brothers handed out protea bouquets at a local restaurant, and will do the same this year at area businesses to “help spread the joy of flowers,” marketing specialist Paulette Sierra said.
“Petal it Forward is a great way to create awareness about the flowers being grown right in the community,” Sierra said. “It’s a great way to boost industry morale. In the process, we educate more people about protea and even gain new customers and social media followers.”
Last year, a crew from “California Bountiful,” a weekly television program produced by the California Farm Bureau Federation, joined the Resendiz Brothers team for a tour of the farm’s fields and to show viewers the emotional response of giving flowers. The program highlights Petal It Forward in action about 4 minutes in, with a bouquet recipient hugging owner Mel Resendiz after he handed her a bouquet, and she tells him, “you just made me happy.”
Vaughan’s Horticulture of Naperville, Illinois, a division of plant distributor McHutchison, based in Wayne, New Jersey, plans to participate in Petal It Forward for the first time, “heading out of the office to hand out as many bouquets to as many people as possible,” said Edward Niebur of Vaughan’s.
Niebur signed up because “it’s essential to volunteer and give back as much as possible, but also the impact you can make on people or the role it can play in the global community is very meaningful,” he said. “Everyone should cooperate in this amazing event. Who doesn’t enjoy flowers?”
Vaughan’s and McHutchison will coordinate with floriculture breeder Dümmen Orange North America, based in Columbus, Ohio, which acquired the companies last fall. Niebur cited Dümmen’s motto, “uniting the world through the language of flowers.”
Arizona Family Florist, a 35,000-square-foot public wholesale outlet in Phoenix, will hand out pairs of bouquets in its shop to attract customers in what is not generally a “pedestrian-centric” city, said Eileen Watters, the store’s marketing and public relations director. Last year, the company gave away 500 colorful daisy bunches, having promoted several days in advance on its social media channels, including Facebook, where it has over 43,000 fans.
“People like the idea of ‘paying it forward’ by giving a bunch of flowers to an unsuspecting someone,” Watters said. She likes that the timing of this year’s Petal It Forward on Oct. 24 as it builds floral awareness going into the busy holiday season. Overall, the campaign strengthens customer loyalty, and leads to potential future business opportunities, she said.
Many of the most successful Petal It Forward events worked because of collaboration among wholesalers, growers and retailers. Participants plan to continue that model, drawing on the strength of long-standing, positive relationships.
In 2017, Dramm & Echter of Encinitas, California, offered its customers a special price on cases of gerberas for Petal It Forward, and encouraged all to get involved in their communities. The company that grows and sells flowers and plants gave an armful of bouquets to a bus driver to hand out to passengers, among other lucky recipients, and posted videos to Facebook explaining the premise behind Petal It Forward, emphasizing kindness to strangers.
Wholesale florist Bill Doran Company, which supplies retailers in 18 states, also championed the effort, persuading nearly 270 clients to hold their own events, and notifying them of discounted product in a flyer: “Can you imagine having the ability to reach 100 potential customers and advertise your business for as little as $100?”
Some people may experience for the first time how special it feels to give or receive flowers, Peterka said. “Hopefully, [Petal It Forward] sends a message that flowers are important, and not just for special occasions, but just because.”
“Bonus points that it sends a message to the public that doesn’t beg for sales,” Peterka added. “It’s a way for our whole industry to spread a little goodwill.”
Get ready now to Petal It Forward. SAF provides members with advice on program logistics, as well as easy-to-implement materials and resources at safnow.org/petalitforward.