Once upon a time, the only thing that most people got by subscription was a newspaper or magazine. Now, we can get dinner ingredients by subscription, as well as clothes, shaving gear, pet food and, for those of lucky to live in Verona, flowers.
That’s because Verona is home to Blooms in Hand, a subscription delivery service for flowers. For a set monthly fee, both residents and businesses can get a beautiful bouquet that is unique every time. “I’m inspired by the colors I see and what’s amazing that week from Holland,” says owner Anna Coy, a Pennsylvania native who now calls Essex County her home. “I’ve never made the same bouquet twice.”
The subscription model solves some of the thorniest problems for any business, big or small: Getting customers to come back frequently and spend a predictable amount. In a subscription model, the business knows how many customers it will serve each week and how much revenue that will generate. There’s no unsold merchandise to discount or throw away because everything the business buys at wholesale is for a predetermined number of customers. For customers, the subscription model takes a task off their to-do list at a budget-friendly price, saving the hassle of a shopping trip and the possibility that the item they need will not be in stock when they get to the store.
Selling bouquets by subscription could provide a lift to a segment of the economy that has been, well, wilting. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of retail florists nationwide has plunged from 21,135 in 2005 to just 13,419 in 2015. Long-time residents of Verona will remember that we once had multiple retail florists in town. Now, there’s just Hillcrest Farms, which focuses much of its business on landscaping services and its garden center.
Blooms in Hand is not a cut flower retail shop, and Coy does not intend to make it one. You can’t show up at its Claremont Avenue address and come away with an immediate bouquet. Coy admits that that has sometimes been hard for the walkers who pass by its inviting front windows to understand. But follow Blooms in Hand on Facebook or Instagram, and you will get a sense of Coy’s floral style, from her subscription bouquets to her celebration pieces for weddings and parties. To set up a subscription, which begins a $35 a month, you simply message her through the social media platforms. She’ll get back to you for a chat about what kind of flowers you like, what day you want them delivered and other key details.
“What am I going to get, customers want to know,” says Coy. “The truth is, I don’t have a picture of it because it hasn’t existed yet.”
Coy didn’t set out to be a florist. It’s a career that just sort of blossomed. She has a background in sculpture and furniture design and worked for many years for an interior designer in Philadelphia. “Until the recession hit and everybody who had a creative position got axed,” she says ruefully. Walking her neighborhood one day, she passed a florist shop and was drawn to the colors and shapes. She talked her way into an apprenticeship and, when her husband got a new job up our way, Coy took along an idea for a new career. She asked her Facebook contacts what they thought of a subscription flower delivery business and when the response came back overwhelmingly positive, she launched her idea. One year later, 60 percent of Coy’s initial clients are still with her.
The Claremont Avenue storefront, which some Verona history buffs think might once have been our Post Office, allows Coy to deliver much more than subscription bouquets. She hosts flower arranging and wreath-making classes on its sturdy tables for individuals, parties and corporate team building. She’s also opened her space to other crafters, allowing them to offer classes in making chocolates, herbal relaxing bouquets and more. Says Coy, “Classes are such a great way to get to know the community.”