MODESTO — Opening a floral shop when many florists are closing their doors is a brave move. However, Barbara Terpstra, owner of Happy Girl Flowers, is relying on an old formula to give her floral business a face lift.
Her mobile flower shop, Happy Girl Flowers, pops up a couple of times every month in Modesto and the surrounding area. The shop opened last November.
“It kind of looks like a little flower shop inside,” she explained.
The pop-up floral trucks that are fairly common in big cities influenced Terpstra to start Happy Girl Flowers. While mobile businesses in general may be a novel trend, this format for selling flowers is nothing new.
“You see a lot of trends from florists moving out of high rent areas to lower rent areas,” said Wilton Lee, president of the California State Florist Association. He also owns his own flower shop in Berkeley called Lee’s Florist & Nursery.
While Lee said he was mostly referring to florists who work out of their homes, a mobile truck offers similar financial relief.
Terpstra is a human resources professional who inherited her love of flowers from her grandmother. She wanted to own a floral shop but also needed a flexible schedule. That’s why she decided to take to the open road.
“I wanted to have fun with it and see where it went,” she said.
The fact that Happy Girl Flowers is mobile means she can schedule pop-up sales a week in advance. The frequency can change depending on the season, but usually they are once or twice a month.
Happy Girl Flowers responds to industry changes
The Society of American Florists noted that the floral industry has experienced considerable consolidation since 2008. In order to thrive in a down economy, many retail florists looked for ways to cut costs and remain in business.
Growing competition from online shops and grocery store floral departments have caused some florists to close their doors. However, Lee said the threat has reduced.
Over the past five or six years, Lee said he has received more direct orders than wire service orders. Those are orders placed through companies like FTD and Teleflora, which employ local shops to fill them.
Lee cited two main factors for the shift: cost and expectations. For example, Lee said there are extra charges associated with wire service orders, but he doesn’t charge them if someone calls him direct. Additionally, a photo seen online isn’t always an accurate depiction of what is delivered.
In the Happy Girls Flowers mobile truck, customers can see exactly what they are getting before they buy. In addition to expertly arranged bouquets, she offers single flowers. That way, customers can choose their own stems and make their own arrangements or have Terpstra work her magic.
“I try to buy what is the freshest and most local,” Terpstra said of her truck’s offerings. At any given time, she typically has two or three arrangements on hand as well as individual stems.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges Terpstra faces with her part-time business is education. While the concept of a mobile flower shop is nothing new in bigger cities, it is new for the Central Valley, she said. People don’t always know what to do with the large, vibrant truck parked on street corners or at community events.
“We have some education to do on that,” she explained.
Ideally people will stop at Happy Girl Flowers on their way home from work and pick up a bouquet, Terpstra said of her vision. But that’s not all she has to offer. Terpstra also welcomes passersby who want to ask questions about the business or general floral care. If they see the offerings and the value, Terpstra hopes they will follow Happy Girl Flowers on social media, she said.
Social media is key to the success of any mobile enterprise. It also offers a new spin on an age-old business. People who want to know where the come-and-go shop will be can “like” the Facebook page – Happy Girl Flowers. They can also follow the business on Instagram, @happygirlflowers.
Terpstra will post Happy Girl Flowers’ upcoming location about a week in advance as well as teasers of what will be available in the days counting down to her appearance, including prices.
Happy Girl Flowers does not deliver or offer services for weddings, but the business is already expanding since its start last fall. Happy Girl Flowers delivers pre-ordered arrangements sold before specified holidays, a model Terpstra employed for Thanksgiving and Easter. Terpstra also hopes to get on the local farmers market circuit.