09 February, 2009

What happened to the florists?

I went looking for a florist's shop last week—never mind why—and I didn't find one. I drove around all the shopping centers along the requisite Strip Mall Avenue (Hardy St/Hwy 98), and found nary a one.

In the town where I grew up, not twenty years ago, you couldn't throw a rock without breaking a florist's windows. Sure, that's an exaggeration, but not by much: Mercer's florist I remember offhand, and Pollard's and Begor's I remember after a Google search. They were all easy to find while driving down Warwick Boulevard; I could even walk to a couple of them. I made a couple of girls unhappy by buying flowers in those stores.

In both Raleigh and Rocky Mount (NC) I also had florist shops within walking distance.

Here in Hattiesburg I haven't find anything except the empty storefront that used to house Oak Grove Florist, identifiable only by the illuminated letters that used to be mounted above the window. In the place of roses, teddy bears, and balloons hung a "For Lease" sign.

I did pass several stores named

  • Check Into Cash
  • Advance America Cash Advance
  • Title Cash
  • National Cash Advance
  • Check Express
  • Cash 2 Go
  • A Dollar Cash Advance
…and perhaps some others. I don't remember seeing any of these kinds of stores when I was growing up.

Is it just Hattiesburg? If not, is it an effect of people living far apart, and having the internet as a readier source of sending flowers?

…or has our world abandoned one of the pleasanter aspects of life?

Note: Don't get me wrong, a Google search turns up a few florists in Hattiesburg, although the #1 link is, ironically, "Flowers Law Firm". (We have plenty of those here, too.) Only one of them is on Strip Mall Avenue, though, and I didn't see it the other day. I'll look again today.


Brandon said...

It's not just Hattiesburg; one gets much the same here in Austin, as well.

I think most small-time florists have been driven out of business by the combined pressures of the sheer difficulty and expense of the floral business (flowers are not cheap, and you have to be very finicky about quality; and you constantly have to scramble to order flowers well beforehand, then you have to be able to sell most of the flowers you bought; and the really lucrative floral work, e.g., weddings, are always an insane amount of picky detail-work in a very short amount of time) and the fact that it's often easier and cheaper to work with the big online flower delivery companies than to focus on storefront sales. I don't know what property taxes are lack in Hattiesburg, but I'd also imagine that flower shops, like bookstores, are very sensitive to changes in property taxes. (Toronto used to have bookstores every few blocks; increasing property taxes drove most of them either out of business or online.)

I'm not at all sure why there is a proliferation of cash advance places; I doubt it bodes well, though, since people who aren't living hand-to-mouth usually use banks.

jack perry said...

Thanks. I was trying to get at the expense/profit difficulty when I referred to the internet as a readier source.

I don't know what property taxes are lack in Hattiesburg…

I don't, either. ;-) Hattiesburg has annexed land 50 feet north of me, and 100 feet south of me, all of which is commercial. Residential areas they're avoiding like the plague.