Looking for reputable flower merchant.
February 8, 2006 2:20 PM   Subscribe

So, it's almost Valentine's Day, and I'm in need of some help, vis a vis flowers. I need to send some flowers to a beautiful woman in another city and I need suggestions for a reputable dealer of flower power. The city in question is Vancouver, so I suppose if someone had intimate knowledge of the city they could recommend a specific place there, but otherwise an online store that you've used before (with good results) would suffice.
posted by The God Complex to Grab Bag (21 answers total)
What's wrong with FTD?
posted by JJ86 at 2:23 PM on February 8, 2006

posted by ND¢ at 2:33 PM on February 8, 2006

Offtopic free advice: ask for an arrangement without carnations and you'll get something fresher and more original. This comes from my sister who works at one of these shops.
posted by furtive at 2:36 PM on February 8, 2006

Best answer: I can't make a specific recommendation, but one method I've found useful is, first of all, forget about online retailers - find a local retailer that you can call, and chances are you won't go wrong. Google Maps makes it easy. Next to "search" click on "find businesses," then enter "category: Florists Retail" in the "what" box and your sweetheart's address in the "where" box. Alternatively, you could search on 411.ca for retail florists and check for addresses that are relatively near her place. Others will likely have proper suggestions, but in my experience as long as the flowers are being put together locally and you can talk to the shop on the phone, you'll be okay. Good luck!
posted by Dasein at 2:37 PM on February 8, 2006

Response by poster: What's wrong with FTD?

Keep in mind that I will need delivery within Canada. From my cursory search of FTD, it appears most deliveries are restricted to the continental United States.

Dasein, that is good advice. I will be looking myself when I'm in Vancouver later this week, but thought I would ask the kind folks at AskMe as well, in case I don't find anything I want (or something comes up and I'm unable to look around).

Also, there's always a chance someone familiar with Vancouver will have some terrific insider information ;)
posted by The God Complex at 2:48 PM on February 8, 2006

Best answer: I use 1-800-Flowers all the time. Everyone loves the flowers they send. I think they contract with local florists.
posted by gokart4xmas at 2:49 PM on February 8, 2006

They deliver to Canada, too.
posted by gokart4xmas at 2:51 PM on February 8, 2006

I've had good luck using Dasein's method. In Vancouver Canada no less.

I called up one of the shops nearest the address I needed them sent, and asked them to make up something nice (and told them the colors I was looking for and then they told me whether or not they had them.) Sooner is better near Valentine's Day.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:53 PM on February 8, 2006

I use Proflowers.com, which doesn't deliver in Canada, but they have an affiliate company, Flowerfarm, that does.

Whatever method you choose, I would highly recommend asking specifically for cut flowers rather than an arrangement. They're just prettier IMO (beautifully simple, less fussy and grandma-ish) and less likely to contain filler like carnations, baby's breath, etc.
posted by SashaPT at 3:24 PM on February 8, 2006

I'm a florist, and I think that the best thing to do is to actually speak to one of the designers whenever possible. I would just hunt around for a few online that might be in her neighborhood. When you speak to them, you can get a feel for them and their shop and the sort of work they do that way. It's also a good way for you to convey the sort of work you'd like -- you can talk about her style a bit. Is she more contemporary, artsy, traditional, feminine? -- and a good designer should be able to discern the sort of work you're looking for, even if you are unable to use specific names of flowers. I know it's much easier to just order something online, but I think some of the worst things I've ever seen florally are done through wire services such as FTD or Teleflora (and I work with those companies daily.) Also, when you use a service like that, there are lots of hidden fees that you pay for, which means less of your money is going for the pretty flowers.

If you are unable to find a shop to call directly in Vancouver, is there one you trust locally? If there is one that knows you, they may be able to help you by placing the order through a wire service, which will probably have better results than if you were to do it yourself. There will probably be a modest wire fee (somewhere around five bucks, usually), but that's worth it if they'll be able to do the floral translating in a way that you cannot.
posted by pogo at 4:21 PM on February 8, 2006

That is, backing up what Dasein said.
posted by pogo at 4:24 PM on February 8, 2006

If you want to impress this woman, I would suggest avoiding FTD and the like. They have a few arrangements that you can't really customize, and they look pretty "canned." Think flower musak.

Pogo has the best idea. If you aren't sure what to ask for, go to your local florist and look around. When you see what you like, ask questions. Then call the Vancouver florist with your info.
posted by shifafa at 4:43 PM on February 8, 2006

I've used 444-4444 Flowers, Granville Island Florist ( 1-604-669-1228), My Florist on Denman, and Web2You. My mom just ordered flowers from Canada Flowers. YMMV, but I've been very happy.

Bill Gates, for reasons unknown to me, apparently orders all his flowers from Scentrepiece on West 41st. I read it in VanMag, but the store says it here.

Webpages for local florists are buried in Google clutter, btw.
posted by acoutu at 4:43 PM on February 8, 2006

I've also used 1-800-flowers for several times a year for probably the last 4-5 years. Since I live with the person I send them to (my wife), I can tell you they're always on time, always have the message I put on them, and always look wonderful.
posted by poppo at 5:56 PM on February 8, 2006

I just got two birthday arrangements from 1-800-Flowers yesterday from my husband, and they are beautiful and fresh. With a birthday a week before VD, I have not always gotten the nicest flowers in the past. I'm a Proflowers user myself, and my mother and mother in law (same birthday - convenient!) both report very satisfactory results.

You will get a more spectacular arrangement from a local florist, but you might want to find one quick and find out what day you really ought to send the arrangement. The 14th may leave you with a rushed job and over-handled flowers.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:04 PM on February 8, 2006

The Flower Factory on Main St. Best in the city according to me and the Georgia Straight, Vancouver's version of the Village Voice. Phone and ask for Rosanne. You won't be disappointed in the arrangement or the price.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:06 PM on February 8, 2006

One of the biggies in the industry (I'm on the wholesale side) that (for whatever reason) the public seems not to know about is TeleFlora. They seem to deliver to Canada without a problem.

That said, if you can, go with pogo's advice--your local florist, or one in Vancouver, will be able to put something together that goes beyond the pre-fab arrangements FTD/TeleFlora/etc. can provide.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 6:27 PM on February 8, 2006

Oh, and, as I'm sure pogo can attest, florists are slammed beyond belief at Valentine's (Our whole company is on 7 days this week). Get your order in, wherever it is, like now.

Hanging my head shamefully for posting too fast.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 6:31 PM on February 8, 2006

Two tips:

1. Orchids!
I know you didn't ask for advice on what flowers to send, but this is just a recommendation from my own experience.

2. If she doesn't have a vase on hand (or you don't remember if she does), look into sending some that include a vase. This saves gorgeous flowers from being arranged in a plastic cup or somesuch.
posted by anjamu at 10:41 PM on February 8, 2006

Response by poster: She's twenty three and trendy, since someone asked ;)

1. Orchids!

I was considering that or lilies, I think, but I'll see what they have. I'll be in Vancouver for the next three days, so I'll look around and try the websites as well and get back to everyone. I appreciate the help, guys/gals.

Get your order in, wherever it is, like now.

Yeah, tomorrow probably :)
posted by The God Complex at 12:08 AM on February 9, 2006

Whatever you do, do NOT order from urbanflorist.com in Vancouver.

Their call centre is in a geographic area far enough from Canada that their staff thought that omitting her city name was still a close enough address approximation for a FedEx delivery attempt. I am amazed FedEx got anything to her at all, but the flowers still missed her birthday. They were a week old, the wrong colour, and absolutely not as advertised.

Customer service is voice mail, and you only get a live human on their order line. I'm still waiting for my refund a month later. They will bill you in US dollars, even if you are a Canadian buying flowers for another Canadian.

If you Google them up, which I wish I had done earlier, you can see dozens of other horror stories (I mean, as horror-filled as anything including floral arrangements gets...) including indications that both Teleflora and FTD dropped them.

That's one bad florist. They also operate under a couple of other names, so step carefully. You would do best with a real live store.
posted by Sallyfur at 1:37 AM on February 9, 2006

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