Putting your skills as a gardener to work earning you money by opening a card and flower shop may seem like a good idea. Before getting started, however, make sure you have the necessary start-up capital without cleaning out your savings account or maxing out your credit cards; the time necessary to run a shop, acquire inventory, and supervise employees; and any previous retail business experience.
Cut flowers have a shelf life of a week to 10 days, which is a disadvantage. If they're not sold in that amount of time it's money down the drain, or in this case thrown into the dumpster. Potted flowers will only look good for several weeks when removed from their ideal conditions of warm temperatures and high humidity in a greenhouse. Turnover is critical in a business where the inventory is perishable. Cards are perishable but they are seasonable and trendy.
Flowers cut from your own garden won't cost you anything but time and garden space. That's an advantage. The inventory can be replaced quickly during the growing season. Instead of the common florist's flowers of carnations, roses, and chrysanthemums, grow more unusual varieties not commonly seen such as snapdragons, cosmos, zinnias, and delphiniums. Instead of houseplants for sale, offer potted herbs. Select classic cards or garden and flower-related cards.
Location is important to a retail shop and that space can be expensive. That could be a disadvantage. You'll most likely have to sign a lease. The landlord will run a credit check on you personally as well as on the business. If the business fails you'll still be liable for the lease payments. A flower shop requires running water and in the case of cut flowers, a refrigerator case.
Sublet space, take over a lease, or make an arrangement with a store to lease you space within it for a percentage of your sales. That's a cheaper advantage than leasing on your own. In any case, make sure that you are allowed signage on the outside of the store for your own shop. You might check with a locally owned gourmet grocery store to take over their floral department, a store that provides gourmet cooking supplies or perhaps a restaurant. The upscale customers are more likely to buy flowers, plants, and cards.
Opening a flower and card shop will take time away from your gardening or you will have to pay someone to be at the shop while it's open. Most retail establishments are open five days a week from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM and on the weekends until 5:00 or 6:00 PM. Hiring staff means you become an employer, which entails collecting and withholding Income tax and FICA (social security) as well as paying unemployment insurance. If you want to retain well-qualified experienced employees, a benefit program may be required. That's an additional expense.
Considering a co-op flower and card shop with other gardeners in your area is an advantage. Splitting the work time at the shop between four or five people makes it easier on all of you.
- flowers image by below from Fotolia.com