CITY HALL — Florists find that a City Council move last week to allow flower sales on the street doesn't pass the smell test.
"I'm very disappointed with this, to be quite honest," said Adam Havrilla, owner of Artistic Blooms in the South Loop and president of the Illinois State Florists' Association. "I did not hear about this ordinance at all."
Last week, Ald. Edward Burke (14th) portrayed his ordinance amendment to end a ban on street sales of flowers as a long-overdue measure to "right this wrong" and correct the City Hall shenanigans of an earlier era.
According to Burke, the ban had been passed during World War II by Ald. John Duffy, a powerful presence in the City Council who would go on to serve as Cook County Board president. Not coincidentally, Duffy also just happened to own Duffy Florals, then at 5431 S. Halsted St. in Back of the Yards.
"He probably was interested in reducing the competition," Burke said in the License Committee as the measure made it way toward passage by the full Council last week.
No doubt, but modern-day florists aren't any more keen on increased competition, and on Monday Havrilla expressed other qualms as well.
"I do have some concerns about that," he said. "In my industry, for the average bricks-and-mortar shop, it's a very small business.
"I love the idea of having flowers out there," Havrilla added. "However, if a consumer purchases flowers from a street vendor and they should not last as long as they should, that's going to make my whole industry look bad, and they're not going to walk into the flower shop."
Havrilla said street sales at street prices would only foster "the misconception that brick-and-mortar shops are too expensive."
But with the ban on street sales already lifted, Havrilla and his board at the State Florists' Association were looking into what recourse they might have available.
"We're trying to figure out what we can do about this," Havrilla said. "I at least want our voice to be heard."
Burke did not respond to requests for comment, but Havrilla said, "We are looking into at least talking with him and explaining our side."
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