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Fresh Obsessed

Pinkerton Flowers a true fresh flower house

fresh_obsessedPinkerton Flowers a true fresh flower house
With a motto like “we do our best for you, just for you,” it’s clear Pinkerton Flowers Ltd. always keeps the customer in mind. The Montreal florist is a longstanding business that has been delivering only the freshest of flowers to customers for nearly 70 years. Peter Pinkerton has served as the owner of Pinkerton Flowers Ltd. for more than 30 years.

The florist has deep roots in the area and the name is well-recognized throughout the city. The business began as a growing operation, which eventually became known as Pinkerton Greenhouses Ltd. and was founded by Robert Taylor Pinkerton (Peter’s grandfather) in the early 1900s in Rosemere, Que., a suburb of Montreal.

In the ’50s and ’60s it was one of the largest greenhouse operations in the province. Robert Taylor Pinkerton’s sons Pete (Peter’s father) and John (Peter’s uncle) began the retail side of the business in 1939 on Sherbrooke Street West in Montreal where the florist still resides today. Eventually, the greenhouses were closed as the land became quite valuable and was best suited for other purposes. The retail florist division has since been passed down to Peter Pinkerton.

The shop specializes in contemporary and high-style bouquets and Peter Pinkerton refers to the business as a true “fresh flower house” as they carry very few dried and silk flowers. They carry a full supply of popular blossoms along with tropical flowers. The florist also specializes in a lot of plants. “We continue to maintain a large and full inventory of green and flowering plants,” says Pinkerton.

The 7,000-square-foot shop is located at the foot of Westmount, an affluent area of Montreal. Pinkerton describes his customers as “middle of the road and above” and says while the shop does attract passing business, the bulk of the orders are done over the phone and on the web. The shop has both an FTD website and its own website. “We are seeing more of the business gravitating to the web than on the phone,” he says. The florist has been a big believer in the Internet for years and first started the website in the mid-’90s when few others had their own webpage. He says it’s been a great marketing tool for the shop. “You really have to be there and it’s another means of reaching the customer.” Pinkerton also tries to attract customers through a variety of ongoing promotions via radio, television, the Yellow Pages, as well as in-house promotions.
Due to the multinational flavour of Montreal, all 20 members of Pinkerton’s staff are bilingual and many times can offer even three or four languages. “We speak what the customer speaks.” he says. His customers appreciate the fact that his staff can communicate with them in their first language. Pinkerton says it’s just good business to be able to operate fully in both French and English and all of Pinkerton’s signage, posters and advertising are also presented in both languages.

One of things that has helped to make Pinkerton Flowers Ltd. so successful is the fact that they have served the community for so long. “We’ve been around for a long time and we have built a reputation for quality.” Pinkerton says. “We only use the freshest product, regardless of what it costs. A cheaper flower won’t do if it’s not up standards.” As a result of this philosophy, Pinkerton Flowers has been the recipient of numerous Consumers’ Choice Awards over the years and also has been on the FTD top 100 list since the list began more than 25 years ago.

The shop also has a presence in many other parts of the world. The florist is responsible for delivering flowers to people serving their country in the deserts of the Middle East. Pinkerton Flowers Ltd. is the official florist for the Canadian Armed Forces and several other corporations. “Soldiers in Afghanistan are ordering flowers from us,” he says. “An Armed Forces member anywhere in the world can place an order and it comes to us. There’s no inconvenience, no credit issues – it’s all prearranged.” Pinkerton estimates that corporate accounts make up at least half of the shop’s business.

When asked what advice Pinkerton has for other retail florists, he says “it’s a tough environment for retail florists but they can still be successful.” He recommends that before opening their own shop, a florist needs to work for someone else to truly get a handle on the flower business and all that goes into it. Pinkerton also advises florists to stay involved with the shop at all times. “It’s a hands-on business and we keep our hands on. You’ve got to put in the hours and pay attention to the details.”

fresh_4Fine’s Flowers a Fine Florist
The motto for Pinkerton Flowers Ltd. actually originated from Fine’s Flowers in
Ottawa, Ont., a floral retail operation that Peter Pinkerton purchased nine years ago from the original owner, Harry Fine. Like Pinkerton Flowers Ltd., Fine’s Flowers is a large city florist and the type of floral product available at Fine’s Flowers mirrors the kind found at Pinkerton Flowers Ltd. From Ottawa to Montreal, Pinkerton says there is very little difference in the floral preferences of consumers.

Fine’s Flowers has two locations – the main store measures 5,000 square feet and is situated on Pretoria Street, while the smaller, 600-square-foot branch store operates at Minto Place in Ottawa. The two shops are set to cater to the different clientele that they attract.  The Pretoria shop is where the central design is done and this location handles most of the phone and website orders. The Minto Place Fine’s Flowers receives more passing customers and features more giftware to suit this market. The florist does deliveries three times a day and serves all of Ottawa.

Much of Fine’s Flowers’ business is influenced by the fact that Ottawa is a government town and the florist receives a lot of orders from embassies and government officials. Pinkerton says that, at times, deliveries can be a little tricky because of the security requirements put in place by these

When it comes to managing both shops, Pinkerton says that “we treat them as two completely separate operations. Even on intercity orders we don’t favour our own in the other city. We have long-term relationships with many other florists.” However, in regards to managing his staff and running the businesses from day to day, Pinkerton says he runs the two shops using the same methods and philosophy. He believes in maintaining a strong presence in the shop and commutes regularly between Ottawa and Montreal to ensure he stays involved with both operations.

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