One of the best ways to prepare for Petal It Forward is to strategically select the location and time for your event. Start by scouting locations such as pedestrian malls, coffee shops, outside large office buildings and restaurants during the busy morning rush or lunch hour. Check with your city to inquire if permission is needed to hand out flowers in public areas.
Since 2015, the Society of American Florists has led the industry in Petal It Forward. During this random-acts-of-kindness flower giveaway, consumers receive two bouquets (or flowers) — one to keep and one to share — to demonstrate the Rutgers University research that shows flowers make people happy and are asked to post about the experience on social media with #petalitforward.
“Try to go for a place that has a lot of foot traffic or your target customer,” said Lisa Greene, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, manager at Beach Plum Flower Shop in Newburyport, MA.
The shop began its Petal It Forward day last year by handing out bouquets to the local police department.
The visit was two-fold — to brighten the police department’s day and inform them that the shop will be handing out flowers at various town locations.
At lunchtime, they handed out flowers at the town’s market square, where foot traffic is high. In the late afternoon, they converged on a local café. They also gave bouquets to customers all day at their shop.
Norton’s Florist in Birmingham, AL, looks for foot and vehicle traffic. Last year, co-owner Cameron Pappas said the team members set up in Birmingham’s business district on the corner of two one-way streets. He found that holding the event at one high-traffic area drew more attention.
“Holding it during the lunch hour really created a bigger impact than spreading it out in different locations,” said Pappas, who helped hand out 400 craft-paper wrapped daisies and alstroemeria at lunchtime last year.
With nine locations in Iowa, Flowerama has a lot of ground to cover. The first year, only two of the shops participated, but the second year all of the stores got involved, handing out 720 bouquets.
Brenda Simmons, marketing manager, said that locations varied for each market. The Cedar Falls location team handed out flowers on Main Street and other stores went to business districts, convenience stores, coffee shops and strip malls. While location is important, timing is equally important, said Simmons.
“Handing out flowers between 11a.m. - 1p.m. is great because a lot of people are on their lunch breaks. They can then go back to work and Petal It Forward,” she said.
Lily Chen, shop manager at Edgewood Flowers in Orlando, FL, handed out bouquets at the Cobb Theatre Plaza in downtown Orlando. Chen said they selected the location for its openness and the fact there is high foot traffic. They were not only able to pass out flowers to the commuters on foot, but also to those in vehicles.
Jodi McShan, AAF, co-owner of McShan Florist in Dallas, TX, said her delivery staff carries extra arrangements and does random stops where they see a lot of foot traffic — mostly shopping centers. The shop partnered with their local police department last year and plans to again.
Robin Smith, manager at Wilhide’s Unique Flowers & Gifts in Ellicott City, MD, sets up at two shopping centers and advises others to go to high traffic areas with new stores, if possible.
Get ready to Petal It Forward. SAF provides members with advice and easy-to-implement materials at safnow.org/pif.
Renee Houston Zemanski is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.