Local florists ask customers to avoid online flower orders on Valentine's Day

TULSA - Tulsa florists say the Valentine's Day holiday can make up as much as a third of their yearly business. They also say, though, that huge chunk can be undercut when customers make their purchases through third-party websites.

For local floral shops like Le'Vans Flowers in east Tulsa, 40 to 50 percent of their business is a result of orders they fill from websites like like Telaflora and FTD.

Le'Vans Flowers owner Mary Lee Evans, who's had the business for more than 50 years, says those third-party websites' fees cut, at minimum, 30 percent on the profits she'd otherwise make if those orders were made in-house.

"I have enjoyed working. I don't care if I have to work day and night, I'll do it. But I just feel that it's an injustice for me to pay the wire services all of our money," she said.

Evans she could be out of business in a year.

We can't survive by them taking 30 percent of our money."

Telaflora responded with the following statement:

Since Teleflora is the only company that sends 100% of all of its orders to local florists, everything we do helps to save florists. Over Teleflora's 80 year history, our retail members have consistently judged us by the amount of orders we bring to them at a local level. Our mission is to create sales for local small businesses through innovative marketing, merchandising, and technology, and are constantly searching for the latest products and services that will help our member florists improve their businesses. As Teleflora remains committed to making florists successful, our fees are in-line with the standards needed to successfully drive orders. We understand that times are tough. While other competitors to Teleflora have chosen to direct ship and bypass retailers altogether, Teleflora remains committed to partnering and keeping every one of our orders in the hands of our retail flower membership.”

According to Sheryl Campuzano, owner of Ladybug's Flowers & Gifts, not only do the local shops face profit losses, she says customers are paying more to go through the big box online retailer.

"If you order from JustFlowers, they take their percentage, they take their $19.95 service fee that they charge. Then they send the order through Telaflora, which takes their part of it. Then, they send the order to us after Telaflora takes their part of it. So it's been through quite a few hands before we actually get the order."

Evans says Tulsans should come back to the brick and mortar, mom and pop stores to make their purchases. She says they'll save both money and local businesses.

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