Have you ever been phone-shamed for not having the latest device? It’s ridiculous when you think of it, although it reminds me of back in the day (gosh, I am SO old, I am using the phrase, “Back in the Day”!) when people would snicker at the poor dear still wearing her hair in a “going to the mall” flip. We hate to be out of touch or living in the past, so why is that what so many of us do with our businesses? I have a long way to go when it comes to technology and all that — in fact I swear my till will go to a museum soon (we have a POS system coming, so calm down!) — but we’re spending a lot of time researching and deciding the best tools to suit our needs.

You may not know, but we recently moved to a bit of an upand-coming mixed-use neighbourhood after 25 years in our previous location. When we first opened, we sold a lot of dried flowers, candles, and lots of things that we would never carry now. We did well with these items, as we did with different plants and permanent arrangements, but as time passed and the street evolved, we knew we had to as well. I have seen SO many businesses come and go because they were steadfast in their belief that what worked for them in the 80’s still will today. Well, sorry, dear, the world isn’t flat anymore!

I work with a talented bunch that has guided me — sometimes pushing or dragging me — into the modern day, and for that I am thankful. Poor Sarah! (She’s under 30, so she grew up with a computer in her hand.) So much of what is “new and mindblowing” to David and me is “meh” to her, and I find that funny! We are constantly “upgrading our systems,” a concept that strikes fear and anguish in the hearts of many, but if this doesn’t happen, we may as well close shop.

When we saw the space we are in now, an empty room with lovely hardwood floors and massive windows, we started thinking, sketching, planning, and talking. We involved our co-workers, of course, as they would often better know the needs and wants for this space. And then once we were good to go, we did just that! Thankfully, the store was being built from November to December, so we were still at the old place for the Christmas season and could move everything that was NOT holiday-themed to the new space, which allowed us time to fiddle with placement.

The counters and walk-in fridge were the only fixed pieces, so once they were placed, the rest was just getting it all pretty! Now, I know many of us don’t have a lot of cash to fork out on a whole new up-do for our store, but remember what a little lipstick and paint did for RuPaul! Paint a wall, add a “design your own” table, and, if you can, start a curbside pick-up service. (This is fabulous for us!) Make it personal, too. We have a counter that is covered on the front with wood from my Dad’s old hunting camp and an old family picnic table. (The top is stainless steel, so it’s not so country!) We also use a jelly shelf from my Mum’s root cellar to display our chocolates. We all got lovely new tops to wear, as well as aprons and name tags, as this gives a more modern and clean look, and took the time to improve our online shopping presence.

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“Upgrade” is a word we all know and what we must all do if our businesses are to survive and thrive. I am so fortunate that I get to work with the best in the business from around the world, seeing all sorts of new ideas and techniques, as well as discussing what’s hot and what’s a flop. As a design director with SmithersOasis, I get first crack at incredible innovative ideas, tools, and new products. Boy, talk about going full tilt to try new things! Smithers-Oasis launches hundreds of new products every year for us to enhance our designs.

Keep current with what’s going on in our industry, because believe me, your customers are in the know! Learn about topics like the advancement in biodegradability in products such as Oasis Foam, how flower food makes arrangements look their best for as long as possible, and design trends like “Tropical Nouveau” to discuss with your customers. And use words like “floral jewellery,” which aren’t gender-specific and appeal to the younger generation. If nothing else, stop calling the permanent flower, “fake” — that’s a personality trait! Right, girls?


Neville MacKay
Neville MacKay, CAFA, PFCI, WFC is the owner of My Mother's Bloomers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a design director with Smithers-Oasis North America. He designed flowers for the 1988 Winter Olympics, as well as a long list of celebrities including Glen Close, Sir Elton John, and members of the British Royal Family. MacKay appears regularly on Canadian TV and travels internationally giving presentations about the impact of flowers.

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