Smiles abounded as the floral industry brightened their communities nationwide with flower giveaways Wednesday during the Society of American Florists’ annual Petal It Forward event.
About 475 floral businesses from 45 states and three countries outside the United States —Ecuador, Colombia and Canada — participated in the 7th annual Petal It Forward. Retail florists, wholesalers and even flower farms gifted two bouquets to individuals, one to keep and one to pass along to someone else.
The event is rooted in the joy of paying it forward and the powerful message that flowers spread happiness and are proven to relieve stress.
The initiative — spearheaded by SAF but organized locally, is also a powerful marketing tool. Some participants use the day to recognize and honor local community members, including first responders and teachers. Others use it to spread goodwill in other ways, such as asking for a donation of non-perishable food items for a food bank. And some participants grabbed the attention of the media.
Social media posts with the #PetalItForward hashtag filled Instagram and Facebook feeds as participants documented the day’s smiles. Here is a compilation of firsthand accounts from the day that had several clear and cohesive messages: #shoplocal, #flowersmakepeoplehappy, #smile, #community and #spreadjoy.
Making the News
George’s Flowers in Roanoke, Virginia, grabbed the attention of two television news stations. News anchors and staff at WSLS, the local NBC-affiliated morning news show, were surprised with a few of the 4,000 bouquets George’s Flowers handed out. The surprise was captured on air and in social media posts.
Another Roanoke news station, CBS-affiliate WDBJ, aired a story about the event last week.
“It is the best buzz you can get,” George’s Flowers owner, George Clements, told the station. “It is a happiness that stays with you all day.”
In Oakland, California, J. Miller Flowers’ Petal It Forward efforts garnered a front-page article in the Piedmont Post, a community newspaper.
“The joy these days bring to everyone is immeasurable,” Valerie Ow, co-owner of J. Miller Flowers, was quoted saying in the article. “The event is a powerful way to illustrate the positive health benefits of giving and receiving Flowers.”
Jenn Seelig, a morning news reporter with News10 ABC in Albany, New York, posted to Instagram showing the flowers she received from Binley Florist and Garden Center in Queensbury, New York.
“Who needs a Wednesday pick-me-up? ✋ If you’re commuting through the GlensFalls/Queensbury area, you may get a colorful surprise! 💐 #BinleyFlorist is gearing up for #petalitforward,” Seelig captioned her post.
Petal It Forward became a community affair in many regions as business districts, schools and parking lots filled with the joyful spirit of the day. Restaurant owners, police officers, schools, clubs and other community members connected with local florists to distribute flowers.
In Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, the local police department worked with Flowers on Broadway to distribute colorful bouquets of chrysanthemums around the community. Flowers on Broadway posted pictures on Instagram of the uniformed officers smiling and standing ready to distribute armfuls of flowers.
The Flower Patch & More in Bolivar, Missouri, worked with students in the Bolivar High School Interact Club to surprise staff at Citizens Memorial Hospital with fresh flowers. The students gave away 300 bouquets in less than an hour.
In one community flowers were placed on teachers’ desks in lieu of the traditional apple. Our Farm Fresh in Southeastern Minnesota delivered 50 bouquets to teachers at Hayfield Community Schools to say thank you to local educators.
Coffee shops and cafes were also popular partners for florists, with buckets of free flowers next to the counter encouraging customers to take one and give one after treating themselves to a morning cup of coffee. With help from the Mesquite 4-H club, Lesley’s Flowers & Gifts in Jourdanton, Texas, placed buckets of flowers at nearly a dozen local coffee shops and restaurants throughout the community and neighboring Pleasanton, Texas. And in Mayfield, Kentucky, The Bloom Company displayed a bucket of single stems inside Cafe Au Latte suggesting to gift a flower to a loved one or a stranger.
While florists and volunteers felt the joy of giving throughout the day, the reactions of recipients best captured the intention of Petal It Forward. Countless gasps, bold smiles, wide eyes and grateful “thank yous” permeated the day.
Posting a Facebook photo of a single orange rose, Jamie Gabriel captured the thrill of being surprised with a day-brightening flower. “Thank you for blessing me whoever you are!!! #PetalItForward #blessednest” she wrote. The flowers were from The Blessed Nest, a florist and home décor business in Bethany, Missouri.
For some, the gesture came at just the right moment. Eva Felmet Drake’s morning commute was detoured because of an accident, and the detour led her to a free bouquet from Expressions Unlimited in Greenville, South Carolina.
“I highly recommend Expressions Unlimited on Poinsett. They never disappoint.” 🌸” Drake posted to her Facebook feed.