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April 2015

Biz - Sci - Tech:
Petal Power
WRITTEN BY: Anna Evans

Charleston Wholesale Florist is bringing more blooms—and business—to town

North Charleston’s Rivers Avenue is hardly the place you’d expect to find an oasis of flowers from farms as far away as Africa, Israel, and Holland. And yet it’s there that native son Stan Utheim opened Charleston Wholesale Florist in 2013. As the owner of The Blossom Shop in Summerville, Utheim knew the area needed a wholesale florist—a place serving only commercial buyers such as retail shops and floral and event designers.

He and sales manager David Box also knew that second group included plenty of creatives capitalizing on Charleston’s booming wedding industry from kitchen-table design studios. “A lot of designers don’t have brick-and-mortar stores,” he explains, noting that pros also come from out of state to do nuptials. Why not offer them the option to buy, arrange, and store their blooms all in one place? They filled a room in the warehouse with booths for rent by the day. Now, on a spring afternoon, you might find 14 of them manned by folks such as Sara Hoffman Jurand of Sweet Magnolia Flowers, who says the space has allowed her to take on more business than her home could handle. Plus, “I don’t have to worry about sourcing all the flowers I need,” she adds.

A Closer Look
Running the numbers on this budding business
➼ Charleston Wholesale Florist is open 7 days a week; after all, weddings and funerals happen on Sundays, too.
➼ They source from 40-plus farms around the globe, including those in U.S. markets like Florida, California, and Alaska, as well as in Ecuador, Colombia, Israel, Africa, Thailand, and Holland.
➼ Around 15,000 stems come through their doors each week. Most were growing in fields some 5 days ago.
➼ The company gathers bunches of blooms for more than 260 clients—primarily retail shops and floral and event designers—throughout South Carolina and beyond.