I have been talking to flower sellers in J.P. Nagar 7th Phase (near Brigade Millennium) in Bangalore over the past couple of days. Let me share some of the exciting things that I have learned through my meeting with flower-sellers.

Before I met the flower seller, I prepared a set of some 20 questions which I intended to ask. I discussed these questions with my parents and also formulated a couple of more with them. Then I practiced saying each of these questions thoroughly in local Kannada. My aim was to extract the information from the florist through a conversation rather than an interview. For this purpose, I also added some open-ended questions which I thought would keep the florist at ease, as well as result in me being revealed to more than I ask for.

Once I had prepared for some time, I convinced my mother to walk us to the flower cart across the street. There were a couple of flower carts close to each other, but we walked to the one, whose owner appeared to be least busy.

The owner of this flower cart was a Ms. Mary. We told her that I wished to ask her some questions about how she runs her business for a school project. After some easy, general questions we were soon in deep conversation.

I started by learning, that she was a native of Bangalore, and had begun this business of flower selling as it was a sort of family business that is practiced by her aunt and uncle too.

I also came to know that she bought her flowers from K.R. Market which is the singularly popular wholesale market in Bangalore, on a daily basis. She buys these flowers from more than just a single seller (actually 2-3 sellers) based on what flowers they sell and what rates they sell for. An astounding fact which I was revealed to, was that she buys flowers every morning worth Rs. 10000!! This came as a total surprise to me.

She also added that her husband delivered flowers to more than 250 homes, which again, I perceive impressive.

On asking whether she garlanded loose flowers or bought pre-garlanded flowers, she told us that she had a team of around 10 members who helped her tie garlands at a pay rate of Rs. 50 for garlanding 1 Kg of flowers. Another fact that she explained, was that she usually never changes the price of a flower unless and until a large stock of flowers were to get sold in a short duration.

At this, I stopped the core questions and shifted the conversation once again to that about her personal life.

Coming to her family, she has a husband and 3 children. Surprisingly they all are doing very well. Her eldest daughter is doing a course in fashion design while her son and daughter are both studying in at Narayana, which is a reputed, private, English- medium school.

She added that she and her husband do not intend to force any of their children to take up any particular profession, and instead will be offered the freedom to pursue the path of their choice.

And with this, we concluded our conversation.

During this conversation, I interspersed several factual questions such as the price of a certain flower or its wholesale cost etc. though I have not mentioned these questions above. Instead all these values can be seen in the table I have pasted below.

From this encounter, I sure did acquire a lot of information on the cost of flowers, the amount of money expended for buying flowers, and the amount of profit made etc. But since these questions regarding money were all quite sensitive issues, I had to stop after just some questions. This left me with yet some more questions.

For this purpose of filling some of the existing gaps, I went to meet another flower-seller whose cart was situated just a couple of yards from Ms. Marie’s.

The man who ran this cart was a Mr. Ramesh. And on talking with him, I learnt a couple more interesting facts. Though, this time my questions were targeted at mostly gathering the data to fill any gaps left.

This man too buys flowers from K.R. Market every day at an expense of around Rs. 10000. From him I mainly learnt the quantities of flowers that flower sellers of his “shop-size” buy.

He buys around 7-10 kilograms of Jasmine, 20 Kg of Rose, and around 3 Kg of Kanakambara. Apart from just these three flowers he purchases several flowers although I restricted my case studies to only these.

From him I also carefully understood one more aspect of flower selling which is essentially important. And that is, what are the quantities flower-sellers buy and at what rates they buy flowers, during the festive season!!

What I learnt regarding the purchase of flowers buy flower-sellers during festivals, was the following:

  1. Jasmine
  • 10-12 Kg is bought per day.
  • The cost price at the wholesale market (K.R. Market) is around Rs. 400.
  1. Rose
  • 45 Kg is bought per day.
  • The cost price at the wholesale market (K.R. Market) is around Rs. 300.
  1. Kanakambara
  • 5 Kg is bought per day.
  • The cost price at the wholesale market (K.R. Market) ranges between Rs. 800-1200 per 1Kg.

After all this, he also told me that around 10-15 Kg a day is left over in his shop on a daily basis. Instead of letting this go waste, he gives these left overs to people from various temples.

And on this note we finished our conversation and walked back home.

From all the data that I have collected from these to flower-sellers, I have created the table below. This table includes several parameters on the basis of which I finally arrive at the profit the seller is able to make from each flower on a single day.

Jasmine Rose Kanakambara
COSTS:
Cost/Kg Rs. 200 Rs. 120 Rs. 300
No. of Kg 7 Kg 20 Kg 3 Kg
Labour Cost Rs. 50/Kg Nil Rs. 50/Kg
Total Cost [(200 + 50) x 7]= Rs. 1750 [120 x 20] = Rs. 2400 [(300 + 50) x 3] =  Rs. 1050
Waste Flowers 20% of 7 Kg = 1.4 Kg 20% of 20 Kg = 4 Kg 20% of 3 Kg = 0.6 Kg
Usable Flowers 5.6 Kg 16 Kg 2.4 Kg
Unit Cost Rs. 312.50 Rs. 150 Rs. 437.5
SALES:
1 Kg = 30 Mola (forearm length) Nil 30 Mola (forearm length)
1 Mola = Rs. 15 Nil Rs. 30
1 Kg Sale Price 15 x 30 = Rs. 450 Rs. 200 30 x 30 = Rs. 900
Total Sale Cost 5.6 x 450 = Rs. 2520 16 x 200 = Rs. 3200 2.4 x 900 = Rs. 2160
Profit: (2520 – 1750) = Rs. 770 (3200 – 2400) = Rs. 800 (2160 – 1050) = Rs. 1110

The total profit made by selling the above three flowers is approximately Rs. 2500-2600 per day. The profits generated by the other flowers per day is roughly equal to Rs. 1500. And so the total profit accumulated in a single day is around Rs. 4000.

This implies that in a single month the profit earned is about Rs. 1,00,000-1,20,000 (Rs. 1 to 1.2 lakhs). For an urban area such as Bangalore, this is a good and sufficient income.