Hidden on 38th street in New York between 6th and 7th avenue is a small green oasis within a concrete jungle. On this block is something know as the New York flower market, full of vendors and stores selling fresh cut flowers, plants, and other floral supplies. The market is not one individual store, but a street full of small shops all specializing in something different. On my recent trip to New York, I decided to check out the shops there and share with you some of the wonder found on this small block.
If you're going to look for flowers, the earlier you get there the better. You don't have to wake up as early as the florists who shop the market before sunrise, but if you are there before 9 or 10 am, there will still be a good selection of flowers and plants to choose from. You don't want to arrive there too late though, some shops close around noon and most close before 3pm.
Wholesale flower shops are where florists and businesses can buy plants and flowers directly from the flower wholesalers. Here you'll find much more variety than the usual roses and carnations that you'll see at most grocery stores and retail florists. Prices per stem and per plant are usually lower, but you may be required to buy more stems of a specific flower than you would at a regular florist's shop.
I went to the wholesale flower market one morning while on my trip to New York. I arrived there around 8:30 am, and there was still a lot of selection of flowers and plants. The streets were bustling with deliverymen loading cars and shopkeepers preparing large orders to go out. I was absolutely blown away by the color and the selection of what I found while I was there. I had visited the market before in the middle of winter, and had gone in search of succulents and tropical plants instead of stopping to smell the flowers (very literally!). Since it is nearing the end of summer, most stores were teeming with seasonal blooms like dahlias and sunflowers!
If you plan to visit the Flower Market, there are a few things that you want to remember before you go. Most stores will sell to the public, but some of the stores I went into require you to set up an account with a business license, so be sure to check before you pick out your flowers and dream of possible arrangements. Not all stores will take credit and debit cards, so carrying some cash will help you make sure that you can buy everything that you want. Also, one thing most new buyers won't know is that some wholesale florists are kept really cold! Sometimes their stock will even be stored in walk-in coolers. If you're someone who doesn't like the cold, bring a sweater!
Shopping at wholesale florists is not only a fun adventure to see a side of the flower business most don't know about, but it is also a great way to buy flowers in bulk. If you have an event or wedding that you need to purchase flowers for, buying them wholesale and then arranging them yourself is much less expensive (but more work) than buying them through a florist. Wholesalers like these are also not unique to New York, and you can find flower wholesalers in most cities.