A careful assortment of flower baskets with various bouquets neatly erected welcomes us to Creative Flower Vendor shade which is owned by Elvis Wainaina and located in one of Nairobi’s suburb area, off Ring road, opposite Oil Libya petrol station; Westlands.
For over 26 years in the flower vending business, Wainaina has been sourcing his flowers from growers and other flower vendors at City Market. “During a season like valentine, most growers resort to exporting most of their flowers ignoring the local market hence subjecting it to unscrupulous middlemen who take advantage hiking the prices to almost three times of the normal price,” Elvis pointed out.
To counter the adverse impact of middlemen, Wainaina reveals that he purchases his flowers on the eve of the valentine day. This at times becomes a hurdle in that flowers are perishable hence need a lot of care for storage. “I usually dip my flowers in clean water, change the water regularly and use flower fruits also I place them under shade for preservation,” Wainaina noted.
“Last valentine the sales were a quarter of what we usually get; but this year we are expecting it to be boom as the day is a working day unlike the previous one which was on a weekend which made most people to shun it as they were pre-occupied by church,” he continued to say.
A part from valentine day, Wainaina also targets other occasions like Mothers day, Christmas and the Secretary day which are also associated with large volume sales but lower than Valentine. Offices and homes are a good niche market for him as they have preserved orders which he delivers on daily basis. At his creative flower vendor shade, a bouquet of flower retails between 200 and 250 shillings.
“In a bouquet of flowers, I always add Gypsophilia, Agaphanthus and Alstromeria to add value, hence making it attractive in the eyes of my customers,” Wainaina said.
“The County Council used to be our major headache before, as for now they are not as long as you comply with their requirements,” he said. For his 4metres by 3metres shade, he parts with Ksh. 8,000/- for license, 1,000/- weekly collection and 1,500 monthly for garbage collection all summing up to 70,000 /- annually.
The closure of the Westlands round about has been one of biggest challenge to his business. Most people who used to access his place from Kileleshwa and Riverside have been restricted with its closure hence culminating into them purchasing flowers elsewhere.
Lack of enclosed stall to carry out his business has been another challenge he grapples with. This has limited him from displaying all his flowers to attract customers as flowers will be scorched by the striking sunlight rays.
Despite lack of enclosed stalls, he would like to appreciate the County Council of Nairobi; since when approached for flower vendors shade, they easily allocate one to individuals.
Not revealing the proceeds he makes, he opines that the flower vending is a lucrative business as it has enabled him educate his children as well as carter for all his family needs. “Most people have not realized the productivity this business possess, I hope many more should join us to take this flower vending a notch higher,” he concluded.