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Flower business blooms for Valentine's Day

Annual one-day demand for long-stemmed red roses drives prices skyward.
by Brianna Bailey Published: February 12, 2014

This week, the walk-in cooler at the Oklahoma Flower Market is packed with every imaginable color of rose, including some that don’t occur naturally.

There are dyed rainbow roses, a purple-black rose called Black Baccara and a hot pink variety dubbed Pink Floyd.

But for Valentine’s Day the red, long-stemmed variety remains the reigning queen, said third-generation flower market owner Mike Hurley.

“Mother’s Day is busy, but Mother’s Day is more about all types of flowers, while Valentine’s Day is all about the roses,” Hurley said.

Situated in a brick warehouse in Midtown, the flower market gets its flowers from around the world and sells them to florists, supermarkets and stores across the state. The price of roses typically starts inching up in January and spikes leading up to Valentine’s Day, Hurley said.

Metro area florists were advertising the classic bouquet of a dozen long-stem red roses for an average $100 this week.

It’s simply an issue of supply and demand, Hurley said.

Moving product

Oklahoma Flower Market’s roses are imported from Ecuador and Colombia and flown into Miami via freight plane and then shipped via refrigerated truck to his Oklahoma City warehouse.

“It’s always a challenge to meet the demands of Valentine’s Day,” Hurley said. “You need extra airplanes that are staged in Ecuador, extra trucks from the coast and there are additional costs in clearing customs.”

On Wednesday, Oklahoma Flower Market workers were busy doing everything from breaking down shipments of flowers into bundles and bouquets to loading up trucks to fill orders for florists.

At Capitol Hill Florist in south Oklahoma City, a mixture of regular employees, temporary workers, part-timers and family members of owner Kent Whitnah have turned the shop on South Western into a war room of sorts. The floor is littered with stems and leaves and the phone rings constantly. Make-shift shelves set up around the shop organize outgoing orders according to their ZIP code.

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by Brianna Bailey
Business Writer
Brianna Bailey has lived in Idaho, Germany and Southern California, but Oklahoma is her adopted home. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the Univerisity of Oklahoma and has worked at several newspapers in Oklahoma and Southern...
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