Years ago, Marlon Moctezuma missed a date and could only find pricey, dead apology flowers at one in the morning. In that moment, he realized that New York City was missing something: an all hours flower shop. To remedy the situation, Marlon founded After Hours Flowers, a 24/7 flower delivery service.
CONVICTS caught up with Marlon and got his take on the perpetual romance of flowers, awkward phone calls, and the overrated-ness of sleep.
Hey man, to start, can you tell us who you are and where you’re from?
My name is Marlon and I was born in Mexico city.
When did you move to New York?
I didn’t move to New York my parents moved me here when I was about seven years old and they actually moved back and I ended up staying here in the States. It’s been about 30 years, I guess.
How did you come up with the idea for After Hours Flowers?
The idea of having a flower shop that sells 24/7, it was an idea I came up with when I was in a rush to get flowers late at night. I had a dinner with one of my girlfriends and didn’t make it on time. I said to myself, “I wish there was a 24/7 flower shop.”
What are the challenges that come with having a 24 hour business?
The biggest challenge is having a supply of what the client’s requesting. We’ll get orders that are 1000 roses and we only have two hours to fill the order. We’ll run to the flower market which is twenty minutes from here, get the roses, bring them back, clean them, and prepare the arrangements. It takes a lot.
Have there been any crazy orders that stick out in your mind?
Yeah we had a client calling from Argentina, he ordered I believe it was 1000 white roses and it was around 11PM. The flower market is not open at that time, but over the years we have created the partnerships with local florists, so the challenge was calling everyone and waking up many people and running to their shops, getting them to open up and sell us as many flowers as we could get. The biggest challenge was carrying the arrangement of 1000 roses. It was super heavy and we had about five guys carrying the arrangement into the truck. But we made it happen.
Do you know of any other businesses that are specifically 24 hour operations?
I’ve spent some time doing research of other businesses that are open 24/7 and they are hard to find but you will find a lot of stuff. Like a hardware store that is open 24/7 or a hair salon that is open 24/7.
Do you think getting the flowers at 2AM changes people’s emotional response to the flowers?
At the end, the person gets the flowers and they are happy to see that someone is thinking about them. I don’t think it really changes the emotions, I think what changes is that they are surprised that they are getting a delivery at like 2AM or 11PM. You can pick the time and say I want my order to arrive exactly at 11:59PM. Customers will do that when it is a birthday, because they want to be the first one to have flowers in front of their girlfriend right when it turns 12AM. So at the end I think it is the surprise that changes the initial emotion for anyone.
Are there any difficult situations that you find yourself in the middle of?
We have a lot of guys that cheat. We’ll get the wife calling, asking about a charge from us on her credit card, or her bank account. When we look up the order number we realise that it’s a joint account, right? So the guy is using the joint account to order flowers for another girl. So we just say “Yes it was placed on this card but we can’t give you any other information.” They’ll start crying, they’ll ask what the name or address of the other girl is. Obviously we can’t give that out.
Oh man, that’s tough. And what are your best sellers? What’s your favorite flower?
The red roses are the best selling and also my favorite. If they are fresh, they will last a long time. Plus they are a very very romantic and beautiful flower.
Have you heard of any other places providing the same service?
We are the only ones doing it, at least in the United States. I know of another flower shop in London that has a similar service. But they don’t deliver 24/7. They deliver very late or really early and they close for four hours. But other than that I have searched all over the place. There’s a bunch of flower shops that advertise 24/7, but they don’t pick up anytime and they don’t deliver
When are your slow times?
There are holidays where we think we’ll get no sales at all, but you never know. On New Year’s Day we’ll be expecting not to have any orders at all and we’ll get a bunch of them. It is very unpredictable. That’s why we stay 24/7 the whole year.
What’s your favorite thing to do at night time when you are not in the flower store?
Eating and drinking. The reason why I say that is because I never know when I’m going to eat again. There’s days where it gets very busy and I don’t have time to stop and eat.
Do you think there is a certain lifestyle of people who stay up all night?
I think so. If you stay up at night you’ll go into a bar or a club, so you are only experiencing that part of the night. But if you are doing it often and walking around, you’ll find stuff that you never knew existed.
Last question: did you win back the girl who inspired you to pursue this?
I’ll talk about the story a little more. So I was supposed to meet her for dinner around 7PM and I ended up getting to her about about 11PM. On my way to meet her, I actually drove around in a cab and found one of those corner stores with flowers. I bought a lot of them. I don’t remember how much but when I got home she was very upset to see a bunch of flowers that were all almost dead. I didn’t know much about her at that point but her father is one of the biggest wholesalers in New York City and that’s why she was upset. When I learned about her having that connection, it helped me develop the idea and come up with the concept of getting flowers every two or three days at fresh good quality and a good price.
Right on Marlon. Thanks for the chat.