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George Patrikis, Owner of Ditmars Flower Shop, Featured in New York Times

NEW YORK – Featured in a New York Times article on April 15, George Patrikis, a Greek-American and proprietor of Ditmars Flower Shop in Astoria, discussed the increase in the price of a dozen red roses from $60 in 2019 to $72 today.

The article noted that Patrikis pays $1.03 for each rose from Ecuador, a leading exporter, whereas the cost was 60 cents in 2019, and briefly surged to $2 in 2020. In-store, he stores the flowers in large vases, each now costing $15, up from $9 pre-pandemic, and he mentioned that the price of glass vases used for arrangements has doubled from China since 2019, now $2 each.

Patrikis also highlighted the operational costs of keeping flowers fresh, with three refrigerators that now have annual maintenance costs of $3,000, a significant increase from $600 before the pandemic, partly due to rising coolant prices. Additionally, the shop’s monthly electricity bill has escalated to $2,500 from $1,200 in 2019.

The process of arranging bouquets has also become pricier. For instance, ten stems of baby’s breath, sourced from Colombia, are now $8, previously $3. Similarly, lemon leaf, sourced from Washington State, now costs $8.50 for 20 stems, a rise from $4.

Patrikis expressed concern over the spiraling costs of additional supplies, such as a 2,100-foot roll of cellophane now costing $45, previously $25 in 2019, and a box of 1,000 sheets of tissue paper now priced at $30, up from $10. The intensive labor involved in the floristry business is evident as Patrikis and his eight employees engage daily in cutting, designing, and delivering flowers, with wages for the workers increased to $25 an hour from $20 in 2019 due to the rising cost of living in New York City.

Patrikis stays vigilant in his purchasing strategies, frequently negotiating with 15 distributors to secure the best deals, stressing the importance of savvy purchasing to avoid being outmaneuvered by wholesalers.

The article also discussed the fluctuating retail price of roses in New York City, with a dozen ranging from $10 from street vendors to over $120 at upscale florists, with Patrikis favoring the Explorer variety for its larger, longer-lasting blooms.

Despite challenges like increased fuel costs, a flower shortage, and supply chain disruptions, Patrikis’s shop, which is now the sole survivor among five that existed on his block around 2010, has seen a significant rise in business during the pandemic.

Patrikis recalled the intense period when his shop reopened for Mother’s Day in 2020 after the initial pandemic lockdowns, saying, “We were never busier in our lifetime. We didn’t sleep for a week.”

Although the profit margin has decreased since the pandemic began, from 20-30% to 10-20%, Patrikis has managed to offset this with higher sales volumes, projecting over 100,000 red roses sold this year, up from 70,000 in 2019. On Valentine’s Day alone, his busiest day, he sells 15,000 roses.

The article also referenced industry trends, noting a predicted decline in the number of flower shops nationwide to 11,000 by 2026 due to retirements and consolidation, down from 11,600 in 2021.

Lastly, it touched on Patrikis’s personal connection to the business, tracing back to his father, John, a Greek immigrant who started selling flowers in the subway before opening his first shop in Astoria in 1983. George Patrikis feels a deep commitment to continuing the family legacy in the flower business, bolstered by the security of owning their building since 2003, which he believes will help sustain his business in the long term.

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