As our business has evolved over the last few years, so have our flower cooler requirements.
In the early days, I assumed investing in a flower cooler was mandatory. Looking back now, I realise it’s not always a requirement and isn’t always the right solution for every floral designer.
Of course, no one tells you that. So, like everything else I do, I wanna make sure you feel armed with the right information. So that you can make the right decision for your business.
The reality is, the answer to the seemingly simple question, "Do I need a flower fridge for my flower business?" isn’t really just ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It’s more of a vague ‘it depends’ sorta thing.
Today, I want to break it all down for you and give you a bit of guidance to empower you to decide if a coolroom or flower fridge is required for your flower business.
Do I Need A Flower Cooler For My Business?
At the end of the day, every business owner needs to decide on their own, whether a flower cooler is required or not. Evaluate your needs and make the right decision for your business.
To help, here are four key considerations, when weighing up your options.
Your studio or shop set-up
Flowers last longest in dark, cool environments. So, if your workspace is filled with natural light and has the sun shining through skylights or front windows for a big portion of the day, it’s safe to say you need to do something to adjust the conditions.
Having a way to control the light and the temperature is really important in making sure you can manage your inventory. But it doesn’t always mean a flower fridge is a right solution.
Your workspace and operational budget will impact how you solve the problem of lighting and temperature controls. If investing in a solution to fit out air conditioning and lighting controls throughout your entire shop or studio space isn’t feasible, then a flower fridge or cooler might be the way to go.
It’s also important to keep in mind the weather in your local area. Here in Australia, we have to navigate blazing hot summers. So creating the right infrastructure to control the temperature and light in our shop and the home-based studio was a must.
Alternatively, if you live in the Pacific Northwest of Washington or Oregon, your weather conditions will be different. Thus your flower cooler requirements might be different. So, think about your environment and workspace and consider your options.
Your local floral supply
Many florists decide to invest in a cool room or flower fridge for one of two main reasons: (1) extend the shelf life of the blooms they have on hand and/or (2) ensure they have enough supply to fulfil orders between wholesale visits.
If your flower business is down the road from a local grower, wholesaler or flower market and it’s easy for you to pick up flowers every 24 hours, then that second aspect may not apply to you. In this instance, you might not need to invest in a flower fridge or cooling system.
On the other hand, if you’re like us, and you’re a few hours away from your wholesaler, investing in a coolroom might be the right solution for your business. It can help maintain your inventory to manage orders for 48-72 hours (i.e. the time between wholesaler visits).
The ingredients you use
Every floral designer has their own personal preferences of ingredients. It’s a major part of defining your design aesthetic.
If you’re the type of designer who uses lots of tropicals and orchids, these flowers actually don’t need to be put into a coolroom. In actual fact, you’ll shorten their shelf life if you place them in a flower cooler. In this case, a flower fridge or cool room might be a total waste of money.
If, however, you’re the kind of designer who uses delicate ingredients like sweet pea, roses, stock, and hyacinths, then having a cooler can help extend the shelf life of these kinds of flowers and might be worth the investment.
Take a look at the kinds of ingredients you’re using (and want to be using) in your designs and decide for yourself whether you need a cool room to extend their shelf life.
The service you offer
If you’re focused on weddings and events, you need your designs to feature flowers that are at their peak. And you need to do so for a specific moment in time.
For example, if you’re working on a wedding, then you need to plan your buying and production schedule so your designs look perfect for the ceremony for 3 pm Saturday or for the kick-off of the reception at 6 pm that night.
With that in mind, depending on your production schedule, having a cool room might not be necessary. Remember, putting your designs in the cool room will slow down the blooming process and actually prevent your flowers from being at their peak at the right time.
On the other hand, if you’re a one-woman show and want to kick off production earlier in the week, having a cool room gives you the flexibility of starting your production a few days early. This allows you to take the pressure off, not having to do everything at the last minute, because you can put your designs in the cool room and extend their life 24-48 hours (or more).
If your flower business focuses on daily flower deliveries, one of the biggest selling points of your offer is the extended shelf life of your blooms. This means you want your ingredients to stay as fresh as possible.
In this case, extending the shelf life of your ingredients by placing flowers in a coolroom works well. Thus, having a flower fridge might be worth the investment.
Flower Cooler Options (For Your Flower Business) And Alternatives
What to look out for in a commercial fridge?
Commercial flower fridges are available in many countries around the world. Prices, sizes and functions vary depending on the manufacturer so definitely do lots of research before you invest in one.
There are two super important things to look out for in your research. Make sure you have the ability to (1) adjust the temperature and (2) manage airflow.
The ideal temperature for storing most flowers is around 7℃ or 45℉. Most commercial cool rooms will have the option to adjust the temperature so finding a flower fridge with temperature control is a must, in my opinion.
NOTE: this is one of the big differences between domestic and commercial refrigeration systems. Most home refrigerators are set too low for flower storage and can ruin your flowers.
If a commercial flower fridge isn’t right for your space, you can also look into having a custom coolroom built. Again, you will want to make sure the temperature is set correctly and that there is a fan built in to ensure adequate airflow.
Alternatively, a lot of designers opt for a more traditional air conditioning unit and then have creative ways for blocking out natural light. Blackout curtains, blinds, and even covering up windows with paper are all good DIY options.
HOT TIP: Light has a dramatic impact on the shelf life of your flowers. So be sure to stay mindful of that as you sort out your studio or shop set-up.
CoolBot - floral cooler
Over the past few years, the CoolBot has grown in popularity with both studio-based and shop-based floral designers. CoolBot is a simple system that allows you to modify a traditional air conditioning unit and drop the temperature control to below its “out of the box” setting. This gives you the option to cool the air much closer to the ideal flower storage temperature (around 7℃ or 45℉).
I'd like to conclude by saying that every florist's business is set up differently. Every florist has different access to fresh flowers and caters to different customer groups. So it’s best for you to do your own research and find the solution that’s right for your business.
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