Buckets are essential for my business, and they are so dumb. Obviously, my flowers are transported and stored in them. I also need them for my subscription service. My bucket requirements are simple: They need to hold water and be the right size to support the flowers so the stems don’t break with the blooms above the rim. Secondary requirement: buckets should have some uniformity so they can stack and not take up too much space. I have mainly three types that flow in and out of my shop: the blue, white and black proconas, the five gallon orange Home Depot (or similar) buckets and the coveted yet ubiquitous standard black flower buckets that you see at the grocery store. Sometimes I get weird buckets: cat litter, laundry detergent and ice cream. The non-conforming size of these containers challenges my value-practice to get as much re-use out of the plastic as possible, but I’ll use them. The struggle is real.
I need hundreds of buckets each week to keep the process moving. I have purchased buckets, but mostly they are traded back and forth between me, my growers and, in the case of the grocery store buckets, my subscribers. I have made friends with the head of the flower department at a local grocery store who generously gives me a tall stack whenever I stop in. A lot of those leak (I think they might be getting thrown out or recycled.) Several of my growers have keys to my shop so they can deliver when I’m not there. They have decimated my supplies on occasion. I get it, we all have to live. I keep strategic reserves at my house and sometimes hide them around the shop, just in case.
You may be surprised to know that there are some skills and procedures involved in bucket maintenance and management. I have become expert at separating stuck buckets. The technique is to alleviate the suction pressure with some gentle squishing and twisting. Force will just break the lip. Sometimes a little prying will work if I can fit a wood paint stirrer in between a stubborn pair. Washing is also part of the ordeal. I clean all buckets I use for my subscribers, not just for appearance, but because bacteria in the buckets can reduce the vase life of the flowers. I have a station in the back of my shop with a utility sink and drying rack. It is always in use. I also have a location sectioned off for broken and leaky buckets so I can take them to the “hard plastic” container at the recycling center.
Dealing with buckets isn’t the most fun part of my business. If your not a flower farmer or florist, you probably overlook this aspect of the business. It’s a significant component to keep the machine going.