It was a little like building an airplane while trying to fly it. Mrs. Bloom’s Direct, an Elmsford, NY, importer, opened a West Coast office last fall that also will be home for its new mass-market division, Thai Blooms. The office experienced its baptism by fire during the Valentine’s Day holiday.
Oren Shapiro, president of Mrs. Bloom’s Direct, started the business in 2003 and in the last few years, the company’s foray into orchids got him thinking about expanding into the West. Mrs. Bloom’s Direct also has an office in Quito, Ecuador, which procures South American flowers for both offices.
“I thought we had developed to the point where we could be doing more business with supermarkets and big-box stores, especially as it relates to fresh-cut orchids,” Mr. Shapiro said in a Feb. 25 interview. “Our grower-partners were ready to handle a larger volume of product.”
Enter Suzie Schneider, whose expertise with mass markets made her a natural target for Mr. Shapiro’s West Coast expansion. She immediately became the foundation of the West Coast office in Carpinteria, CA, along with a former colleague, Vicki Buffalo.
“After much research, it became clear to me that there was a strong need for a reliable, high-quality orchid house on the West Coast,” Mr. Shapiro said. “We quickly decided the new operation, Thai Blooms, would initially focus on orchids for the mass market,” Mr. Shapiro said.
Mr. Shapiro’s research seems to have paid off. Volume has quickly increased, he noted. “They reached a 90-day import goal in just 30 days.” Thai Blooms is different, he asserted. “We find that mass-market customers like to have a partner who customizes programs for their store demographics.”
Also, he added, “We constantly work with our partners in Thailand to create new products. Because we mainly offer orchids not grown in the United States, we can develop unique programs for the mass market.”
Apparently, the sky’s the limit at Thai Blooms. “With the forward, creative thinking that the Thai Blooms team brings to the table, the United States is our oyster,” Mr. Shapiro said. “We’re dreamers,” said Ms. Schneider, speaking of herself and Ms. Buffalo. “And Oren is a dreamer also. He gives us the freedom to be creative, and supports not just our successes, but also our failures.”
New worlds to conquer? “You bet!” Ms. Schneider replied. “We recently launched our new line of orchid corsages, bouquets and gift boxes. These are great products for stores looking for the next big thing — products that have appeal not just for the holidays, but on an everyday basis.”