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Retail Roundup: Retail Roundup: Mobile florist debuts with pop-up sales, delivery service

Hometown Flower is selling locally sourced flowers and plants that customers buy in online subscriptions.

Huntington couple Marc Iervolino and Jaclyn Rutigliano launched

Huntington couple Marc Iervolino and Jaclyn Rutigliano launched Hometown Flower Co., a mobile business. Photo Credit: Shelby Knowles

You might stop and smell the roses on the Long Island Expressway soon.

Hometown Flower Co., which bills itself as Long Island’s first mobile and pop-up florist, recently launched on Long Island and in Queens.

“It’s very different from the traditional florist model,” said Huntington resident Jaclyn Rutigliano, who co-owns the business with her husband, Marc Iervolino.

Hometown Flower is selling locally sourced flowers and plants that customers buy in online subscriptions — weekly, biweekly and monthly — and delivering them in a refrigerated van or a 1976 Ford F-100 blue pickup truck, Rutigliano said.

The company also will do pop-up sales, via its pickup truck, at local places, such as the Roslyn Farmers Market on Wednesdays and Industry Lounge & Gallery in Huntington from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday.

The types of flowers and plants sold will depend on what local nurseries and flower farms have in season, Rutigliano said.

“It’s very much akin to a vegetable CSA [community-supported agriculture] program. Our farms cut what is fresh and our hope is that it’s a surprise for us as well,” she said.

Hometown Flower is sourcing its products from 10 local flower farms and nurseries, including North Fork Flower Farm in Orient, Salt Air Farm in Cutchogue and Pierpont Blossom Farm in Baiting Hollow.

Most of the vendors are vegetable farmers who grow flowers on the side, or they’re wholesalers that don’t have the distribution methods in place to do deliveries mid-island on their own, she said.

“So, us coming in to take the flowers off their hands is sort of added revenue for them,” Rutigliano said.

Pop-ups have been common in malls for decades but over the last five years have became popular in other locations — and they are a relatively inexpensive experiment, said Ray Hartjen, a spokesman for RetailNext, a San Jose-based retail analytics company.

“It allows a brand to interact with new customers and gain a tremendous amount of feedback on product assortment, pricing, service and most anything shopper-facing in the enterprise,” he said.

The on-trend combination of a mobile business and pop-up sales could give an edge to Hometown Flower Co., as the brick-and-mortar florist industry faces growing competition from supermarkets, discount stores and online retailers.

Furthermore, online florists are increasingly bypassing brick-and-mortar florists to fulfill their orders, and instead are buying flowers directly from distribution centers and flower farms, according to IBISWorld Inc., a Los Angeles-based market research firm.

The number of florist shops in the nation declined 18.1 percent to 32,307 stores between 2010 and 2018.

Rutigliano and Iervolino will run Hometown Florist while maintaining their full-time jobs. She runs a freelance marketing consultancy from their home. He is a project manager in commercial construction.

Rutigliano is a third-generation florist. Her grandparents founded Jack & Rose Florist in 1948 in Fresh Meadows. Her parents later took over the shop, and added a Woodbury location, which is now the only store.

Rutigliano and Iervolino, both 32, want to help put more focus on the “vibrant community of small-business owners” in the center of Long Island, which has a reputation for being overrun with strip malls and big-box stores, Rutigliano said.

“We’d really love to be part of redefining what it means to be a young entrepreneur on Long Island,” she said.

Retail Roundup is a column about major retail news on Long Island — store openings, closings, expansions, acquisitions, etc. — that is published online and in the Monday paper. To read more of these columns, click here. If you have news to share, please send an email to Newsday reporter Tory N. Parrish at tory.parrish@newsday.com.

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