This is where things get a little tricky. Flowers are a wonderful gift but order-gatherers and drop-shippers are going to try and get between you and the real local florist that you want to fill your order.
The end result? What gets sent is so much less than what you deserve.
An order gatherer is a business that tries to generate flower orders but rarely if ever actually fills those orders. Most order-gatherers are nothing more than a call center and a website and, unlike a real flower shop, they wouldn't even have flowers to send or florists to prepare them.
They are however very good at convincing the public that they are genuine florists, largely through the use of deceptive websites and telephone listings designed to convince you that they are legitimate. They take your order (and your money) and then contact a real local florist and place the real order, the order that will actually be delivered, with that flower shop.
The problem is that they also want to keep a lot of the money for themselves – it's not uncommon for less than 60% of what you actually paid to get passed along to the real florist that actually prepares and delivers your flowers. The end result is that you get much less than what you paid for.
Unlike the real florists that do an outstanding job of serving a small local community drop-shippers attempt to serve entire continents from just one or two national production facilities.
Rather than using local delivery companies that specialize in handling fresh flowers they have to ship with overnight couriers. It also means that they flowers are packed into special shipping boxes.
What the person received is generally nothing like what you thought you were purchasing. The recipient will have to unpack the flowers and arrange them on their own. It's unlikely that the flowers will look like they did in the picture that you feel in love with.
Most internet searches return more fake or "deceptive" listings than real local flower shops. Believe it or not these are middlemen that pretend to be local florists but they aren't. Instead they take your order, hire a local florist to send a smaller arrangement at a lower price, and keep a big chunk of the money for themselves. And just to add insult to injury they also stick on a bunch of service charges that don't add any value. The bottom line is that you pay for much more than what you get.
If you can find a local florist on Yelp! or Google Places (you'll see a map, and a list of shops with pins showing their placement on it, and star ratings) you are probably safe. Both Yelp! and Google try and make sure that those listings only exist for genuine local flower shops.
For the most part don't trust phone books or telephone directories – both feature more of what are known as "deceptive listings" than real flower shops. Order-gatherers and drop shippers will run fake listings, often even using the names and addresses of established local flower shops, and it can be very hard to know what is real. They're trying to trick you, and you won't like what happens if they do.
The best thing is to actually visit a shop in your town. Just pop in and take a quick look around – you'll enjoy it, and they will be happy to give you a business card, brochure or fridge magnet. Put their number in your phone right away – it sounds crazy but there will be impostors using the same name in the phonebook and online.
There are many online directories of real local florists. Some, like the one provided by Flower Shop Network, are excellent and contain only real local flower shops. Most however are another attempt by order-gathers to trick you into ordering from them.