You go to the grocery store, grab a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk, peruse the produce and the fresh meat, and perhaps snag a bottle of your favorite Pinot. But unless you're in love, in trouble, or dead, you're not going to get fresh flowers out of a shopping trip.
With her new downtown flower service, Jade Sullivan is hoping that more locals will make flowers a part of their day, and she's not even asking you to pick them up. Instead, Sullivan wants to deliver fresh-cut flowers to your doorstep. The Weekly Petal will offer customers the option of having a single flower delivered each week or getting a bunch delivered on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
Sullivan wants her customers to appreciate "the romantic and sensible role flowers play in everyday living." It's an appreciation that the College of Charleston graduate cultivated while living and studying in New Zealand, Italy, England, the French countryside, and Hawaii. In particular, France and England showed her how fresh flowers are more integrated into the lives of Europeans. Sullivan says her shopping habits while living abroad encouraged freshness, for both flowers and food.
"It's the European way; it's not even a question. In France, going to the market and bringing flowers home is an everyday thing," Sullivan says. "I think it's a lifestyle difference and a perception."
The seed for the business was planted in Europe, but it didn't really take shape until Sullivan received a friendly nudge from a wedding planner in Hawaii.
"As soon as he told me the idea, I fell in love. It clicked," she says.
Now that Sullivan has made her return to the Holy City, the real question is whether locals are willing to come around to her way of thinking and trade cash for petals. Sullivan has only been delivering for a couple of weeks, but she's already gotten some positive feedback.
One business owner buying Sullivan's pitch is Steve Palmer of Oak Steakhouse and the newly opened O-Ku. Palmer plans to have bunches delivered to both his restaurants.
"If I have to go to a flower shop, I'm probably not going to make the effort," admits Palmer. "I think it's a great value."
There's no doubt the Upper King Renaissance has inspired her. We spoke with Sullivan at Hope and Union Coffee Co., the table brightened by a small bunch of flowers with cream-colored hearts floating on top of every macchiato. Sullivan says she made almost daily visits to the café when forming her budding business. Sullivan is quick to admit that she isn't a salesperson, and, like the service she provides, her pitch is simple.
"Who doesn't love flowers? Honestly, that's it. Why wouldn't you want flowers in your house?" asks Sullivan, before joking, "It's the cutest business in Charleston."
The cute factor will go up with Sullivan's future plans, including a possible partnership with chocolatier Eric Battles and adding cupcakes to deliveries as well. If there's one thing people need right now, it's cheering up, and Sullivan is riding her trike filled with flowers and sweets through downtown, hoping to deliver happiness. Palmer says that, in many ways, he's attempting to tap into the same attitude as Sullivan by opening a new restaurant in the midst of a recession.
"(People) still want to do nice things for themselves," he says
Sullivan has planted her business in the fertile ground of the Upper King design district, fueled by the vibrant influences of young artists and students as well as the aesthetic appreciation that Charleston has always had.
The Weekly Petal delivers anywhere below the Crosstown every Thursday. You can check out the business and order flowers online at theweeklypetal.com.
Sullivan doesn't know if flowers are something people will pay for right now. But she has almost taken on the personality of her stems: There's a sunny optimism that her business can take root on the peninsula and grow.