Mobile floral business reflects on strong season

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Susan Du/Daily Senior Staffer

Flower Bike operator Mya Huynh says she sells blooms part-time “for fun,” to meet strangers and hear their stories.

Susan Du, City Editor

Some days when the streets of downtown Evanston are flooded with rush-hour traffic, My Huynh, 23, squeezes through towing a wooden cart overladen with flowers on the back of her bike.

“I think it’s awesome watching people stare at you, and watching their reaction,” Huynh said. “It’s just so fun, because you don’t really see flower bikes around. This is first one I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s unique. It’s just positivity all around.”

The recent DePaul University graduate crunches numbers as an accountant during the day, but from 5 to 8:30 p.m. she operates The Flower Bike, a mobile flower shop that travels throughout Evanston. Customers can receive daily updates on the whereabouts of the bike via Facebook.

The Flower Bike opened July 14 and is now wrapping up its first season. Reflecting on the past few months of selling bouquets to strangers on street corners, Huynh said business is solid despite the operation’s micro scale — and perhaps because of it.

“Like in any business you’re going to lose money the first two years, because you invest so much in the tablet and the cart and the workers and stuff, but after a while, once you start figuring out the trends – like the best time to sell is when rush hour is – that’s when you start picking it up and start making a profit out of it,” she said.

Huynh said The Flower Bike is a safe business investment suited to the tough economic climate of recent years because a license to operate a small retail cart is only approximately $50 a year, as opposed to the thousands of dollars a month physical downtown storefronts require. Employees work only three- or four-hour shifts, further minimalizing operational costs.

“Even if it fails, which I hope it doesn’t, it’s not a great (financial) loss,” Huynh said. “It’s small risk.”

The Flower Bike will wrap up sales when it becomes too cold to operate, likely in mid-November. Its stock ranges in price from $2 to $20, so its customer base is just as varied.

Evanston resident Arlene Sunkel (Medill ’56) was taking a post-dinner stroll with her husband Tuesday evening when she decided she just “needed a flower” after running into the cart. She chose a purple spider mum for $2.

“I love it,” she said of The Flower Bike’s presence in downtown Evanston. “It’s sort of refreshing to have something like this. I’m glad the city allows it.”

Jusef Wofford, 26, paid $15 for a bouquet in honor of a “really pretty” girl’s birthday. He said he just wants to show his friend that people can do nice things for each other, and that he was attracted to The Flower Bike because he received a certain positive vibe from it.

“I saw (the cart) and it gave me the idea to get some flowers,” Wofford said. “Something just tells me they’ve got to be good people if they have this whole thing – they have flowers and an umbrella and some nice wheels there. There’s something good going on here.”

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