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Old Mill Wholesale Flowers readies retail florists for one of the industry’s biggest days of the year

Old Mill Wholesale Flowers readies retail florists for one of the industry's biggest days of the year

The countdown to Valentine’s Day is on and that means flowers.

Livin’ Upstate took a field trip to Old Mill Wholesale Flowers in Greenville where Jim Wadsworth and his staff were readying for one of the biggest days of the year in the floral industry.

A week out from the day of love, Wadsworth had 15,000 red roses set for delivery to retail florists across the Upstate and was trying to find more.

“Our first priority is to keep our customers pumping those flowers out, so we want to keep them supplied with affordable, super fresh flowers,” said Wadsworth, who opened his wholesale business in 2014 after working for several years on the retail side of flowers.

“There are nightmares that happen all the time in the floral world, especially when it comes to events and brides who are counting on flowers,” Wadsworth said. “I’ve been on the receiving end of something that’s not good quality or something that is overpriced. I guess I have a little bit of an edge because I know what it’s like to be on (the retail) side of it.”

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Workdays at Old Mill Wholesale Flowers can begin as early as 5:30 in the morning when staff comes in to pack their mobile stores with fresh flowers and plants, fanning out to retail locations across the Upstate and into North Carolina.

“We take our mobile stores shop to shop, and customers get on the truck and shop like it’s a store,” Wadsworth said. “And a little plug – order local. Don’t use the wire services online. Call your flower shop directly and order your flowers through them.”

Like most industries, the floral business has had its challenges because of the coronavirus pandemic, but flowers, plants and home gardening have bloomed during coronavirus lockdowns, bringing a new appreciation to the psychology of flowers, Wadsworth said.

Studies show that flowers have a long-term positive effect on moods, with study participants saying that they feel less depressed, anxious and agitated after receiving flowers.

“At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we were wondering about the shutdown and whether we could call ourselves essential,” Wadsworth said. “The psychology of flowers and what they do for your mood is important, especially right now when we’re stuck at home unable to see friends and family. You can brighten their day or your day with colorful blooms.”

Wadsworth said his interior design training and background spurred his interest in the wholesale side of the flower business, although now he rarely gets to see the finished product.

“We don’t often get to see the vase arrangements because we sell boxes and buckets and large bulk, but to see what the flower shops produce with this is just absolutely beautiful,” he says. Flowers are a crucial part of finishing off a look, whether it’s an event or brightening someone’s day. To have an event with no florals, I feel like you’re missing the icing.”

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