So one day, I was away from my flower shop in Korea making deliveries, when one of our flower suppliers stopped by our shop. He came with a box of 12 fruit juice bottles. You know, the ones that come with like 4 apple juice bottles, 4 orange juice bottles, and 4 grape juice bottles. So it’s like Korean tradition to give small gifts to business partners to keep the relationship strong. And I guess he came by because we hadn’t been going to his stall at the flower market as often as we did in the past. I think he wanted to see if we were buying flowers from another merchant or something haha. And to be honest, we were. We still went to this merchant to buy whatever flowers we could because he and his wife has been really good to us. Also, he usually gave us good quality flowers, even though they cost a little more than other places. But when he arrived to our flower shop, he noticed that there weren’t that many flowers in the fridge. And he saw that there was no one in the street that our flower shop was located in. And here are some of the things he said to my wife:
“Oh, it’s really quiet here.”
“Why don’t you try…..it might attract more people to your store.”
“This location is really difficult to operate a flower business.”
And my wife told me that he looked really worried, like genuinely worried for my wife and I. I think he was both worried that our business would fail and that he might lose a good customer. You see, we bought a lot of flowers from him from January-May, but in June-July, we noticed that the quality of their roses were lacking, so we had to buy them from other merchants, since the most important thing to us is keeping our customers happy. And I guess when he saw my wife on her phone in an empty shop with literally no one in the streets, he immediately thought that June and July are really hard months for us, since they are really hard months for everyone in the flower industry.
Also, the other day, my wife had to buy some vases for some of our customers. And she found out that if she were to register our business with the vase shop, that we could receive a discount on the vases. So she wrote in our business number and address, and was then able to receive discounts. Once she finished filling out the form, the merchant at the store said, “hey, isn’t this the new shop that opened right by ****Flower?”. And my wife said that we were that shop. And here are some of the things he said to my wife:
“Oh, isn’t it really quiet there? There isn’t a lot of people there.”
“It’s going to be really hard doing a flower shop there.”
“I bet the rent is low. At least the rent is low. Yeah, then maybe you can survive.”
Here is a picture of our shop:
I also met a woman who was in the fur industry in Korea. We talked a lot and she also tried to sell me some “Amway” products. Amway is like one of those companies that sells its products to their workers and then you can have people under you sell things, and so one. So she told me that once they finished building the parking lot, which is located across from my shop, business will pick up. And I was like, our business is doing okay already. And I was like, our business is mostly online…and she just quietly nodded her head and was like, yeah…right…(haha)
First off, I am thankful that all these people showed their concern. I also love how open some Korean men can be with their comments about a business that has been open for just over a year. And the funny part is that they are actually showing their concern. In their minds their like, woah, you young guys don’t know what you’re getting into. Tsk tsk tsk…you don’t know what you’re doing. But to be fair, I honestly see businesses that open and I ask myself whether or not they will be able to survive and thrive. But I don’t have it in me to tell those business owners to their face. And at the very least, I think there are ways to craft your words to show concern, while being respectful. But good thing for me is that I love it when people doubt me. It just motivates me to push hard and prove them wrong.
So people in the flower industry think our business will fail. My wife and I have a feeling that they talk amongst themselves about our business and not ask if our business will fail, but believe that Flower Gift Korea is Not Going to Survive. They think we are in a bad location (very little traffic), we aren’t desperate enough (we don’t offer any discounts), our hours are too short (10:00am-7:00pm Monday-Friday), we don’t have that many items at our store, we only deliver flowers to areas in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeongido, and we aren’t involved in the community (Yea, this is one thing we can definitely improve on). And they would be right if we didn’t receive more than 90% of our orders online. And you see, most flower shops in Korea don’t actually sell flowers online, but do have a Naver blog that leads to them receiving phone orders. So for a flower shop in Korea to survive, it needs to be in a population dense area, someone has to be writing a naver blog post at least once a day, they have to offer nationwide flower delivery, be very very almost fake friendly to every single person that comes into their store, give discounts here and there, and be open on the weekends because that’s when they make the most sales! And we don’t do any of these things….which is why anyone who knows anything about flower businesses in Korea will automatically think we are going to fail.
*It’s also important to note that the majority of people in the flower industry tend to be older. I would say the average age range would be like 40-60 years of age. And the ones who are doing well in the flower industry are probably closer to 60 and have been in the industry 20+ years. I met one couple who has been in the industry 35 years and he makes the equivalent of $1 Million US in sales a month! Yikes! When will I get to this? Maybe in 34 years, or maybe less.
But when I explain what Flower Gift Korea actually does, their eyes light up and I receive all of these compliments. But honestly, I think they are just being polite. They actually have no idea how well Flower Gift Korea does and will do. But the most important thing is that I know the potential of Flower Gift Korea and where it is going, and that’s all that really matters.
There’s this really nice lady who works in one of the Don-Kkat-su restaurants in our area. We just call her the Don-Kkat-su lady, which isn’t a really great nickname for her, since she is still pretty young. Don-Kkat-su lady sounds like an older Korean ajumma. Anyways, she comes to buy flowers time to time. And we always give her a good amount of flowers and she always says, “Oh, you are giving me too many flowers for the cost.” And honestly, my wife is really really generous with the amount of flowers she puts in the bouquet and gives out, which we sometimes have disagreements with, but anyways, that’s another story. So I believe the only reason she comes in to buy flowers is because she feels sorry for us hahaha. Honestly, if you were to walk by our flower shop and had no idea of what we actually did, you would probably feel sorry for us too. We normally take care of our orders in the morning and sometimes we don’t have evening deliveries. So if you walk by our shop at around 3:00pm on a day we are already finished and sit and watch us until we close 7:00pm, you may see 0 customers walk in our shop, and two people joking around, on our computers and mobile, and not making flowers! So I’m sure people in the community, especially those who don’t see us during our busy busy times making flowers, will feel sorry for us. But what they don’t know is that I’m on social media posting, creating blog posts, interacting with customers, commenting on forums, liking posts, updating or creating content online, uploading new products, and just creating and updating various things online.
In the end, most people will say, Flower Gift Korea is Not Going to Survive, but I know what’s up, and that’s all that matters.
How’s your business going? I hope you continue to grow your business, grow your network, and build whatever you need to build. It takes work, but it’s all worth it in the end. Just remember, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.