It was a resolution of mine to make it downtown this year, so I got right down to business and went the first weekend of the new year. All I knew about the mart was that everyone told me I would love it and that I could get cheap flowers there.
We had no trouble finding parking on the street (it was a saturday so there were fewer restrictions, otherwise you can always try their parking structures) and entered one side of the warehouse, paid our $1 entry fee, and there we were. I was surprised that the whole environment was pretty regulated and much like a farmers market but with only flowers for sale. I had imagined shouting and mayhem and bartering and flowers jammed all around me. But really, it's a large warehouse with individual vendors with regular sized buckets full of (in a lot of cases) plastic held bouquets of flowers. And much to my chagrin they wouldn't break up the pre-made bouquets.
However, I still had a lovely time and did not leave empty handed. My friend and I stopped at The Orchid Affair (which seems to have it's own store within the warehouse that has windows and doors and a lock), and I was promptly shocked and awed by the sheer number of plants in one store. We diagnosed my dear friend's orchid and continued our journey.
We smelled an orchid that I could have sworn was made of chocolate, I tied bartering for individual stems of lilies but no one was having it, and finally found the most beautiful peonies ever. With peonies in hand I decided I needed a little more to show for my journey so I went for 3 stems of Proteas at $1.50/stem.
It's 2 weeks later and they're still going strong. Don't forget to barter with the vendors, some will comply others will not, and it never hurts to try. My peonies were $6 which isn't amazingly better than what Trader Joe's sells them for and some of the bundles of Asiatic Lilies were upwards of $14 which didn't feel like a deal to me, so definitely keep walking around and asking for prices. All in all, i had a great time and would definitely spend a saturday morning doing it again. And with Valentines Day coming up, it might be a good resource to have in your back pocket...