Rose Wanja was in an upbeat mood on Friday morning as she methodically arranged bouquets of red roses inside her refurbished stall at Nairobi’s city market.
The middle aged mother of three has been in flower business for more than a decade and the month of February occupies a special place in her soul since it always heralds a fortune.
Like majority of her middle aged peers, Wanja has no emotional attachment to the lovers’ day though she values the financial windfall it heralds.
During an interview on Friday at her market stall ahead of the Valentines’Day on Sunday, Wanja revealed that clients had started making orders for red roses early this week.
“I have loyal customers who have been passing along here to make orders for bouquets of red roses. Likewise, I was honored to receive orders from random clients who were referred to me by their friends. Overall, business is good and will reach a peak by Sunday,” said Wanja.
Her two young assistants were on standby as smartly dressed office workers visited the stall to make orders for fresh roses.
As the mid morning grey weather enveloped the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, Wanja and her colleagues felt a sigh of relief since they could display flowers in the open and possibly catch the attention of passersby.
Thanks to its strategic location and neatness, Wanja’s market stall was an instant attraction to male and female clients determined to surprise their loved ones with a bouquet of red roses.
“Having been in this business for quite some time, am well versed with clients’ tastes and I have invested heavily to spruce up my stall and procure healthy and alluring red roses from farms in the countryside,” said Wanja.
The retail price for a bouquet of red roses was 6 dollars on Friday morning but vendors expected it to hike as the lovers’ day drew closer.
Ever the optimist, Wanja revealed to Newsmen she had made bulk orders for red roses and planned to set up a makeshift tent in a busy Nairobi Street to tap into young lovers with disposable income.
“It will cost little to hire a tent and place it in a busy intersection where motorists and pedestrians can pop in and buy roses,” said Wanja adding that inflationary pressures have not dissuaded Kenyans from buying flowers ahead of the Valentine’s Day
The Kenyan flower industry is betting on this year’s Valentine’s Day to increase sales volume after depressed performance last fall.
Industry players in their predictions earlier this week noted that demand for red roses will peak countdown to Valentine’s Day in both the local and overseas market.
Dozens of flower vendors who occupies a large swathe of Nairobi’s city market were in ecstatic mood on Saturday as signs of better days ahead became visible.
Stephen Kiarie, a 44 year old father of two relaxed in a wooden bench outside his stall as he waited for customers.
The digital savvy businessman took photos of bouquets of red roses neatly arranged inside his stall to send them to customers through social media platforms.
During a conversation with Newsmen, Kiarie revealed he started receiving orders for red roses and carnations on Wednesday.
“My customers are mainly in Nairobi and its satellite towns and majority of them make their orders online since they are busy in their work stations. I have an arrangement with a local courier firm to dispatch the flowers to the clients’ doorstep,” said Kiarie.
The veteran flower vendor disclosed that a firm grasp of market dynamics enabled him to re-invent his business and retain a royal clientele base.
“Our client’s tastes have evolved over the years and we have no option but to re-organize our way of doing things. Nowadays, customers are not just buying flowers but are also keen on other aspects like hygiene, convenience and personal interaction,” Kiarie said.
His affable nature and elegant dress code endeared him to young lovers who strolled Nairobi’s City Market to have a look at red roses on display.
Kenyan flower vendors devised innovative ways to lure customers ahead of the Valentines’ Day against a backdrop of stiff competition and declining purchasing power.
At the entrance of Nairobi’s City Market, female flower vendors were making frantic attempts to win customers by offering discounted prices and free souvenirs.
A young female vendor who identified herself as Susan put on a broad smile as she engaged customers enticed by the brightly colored and aromatic rose petals.
Susan and her business partners settled for nothing less in their bid to win the hearts and minds of reluctant customers.
The bubbly young entrepreneur said that many clients were keen on purchasing bouquets of red roses that were creatively arranged.
“The freshness and aroma of flowers is a key consideration among many clients. We had to purchase flower vases made of organic material and wrap them with brightly colored ribbons to attract customers,” Susan said.
Kenyans from all walks of life were determined to spend their last coin and treat their loved ones during the Valentine’s Day going by a random survey conducted in the markets and shopping malls where flowers and other romantic items filled the shelves.