What are your short-term growth plans….?

Question 5.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term growth plans for the business? How will this grant contribute to your plan?

Our objectives in the short and long term are congruent. Our business was more robust and effective when we our sales were consistent and growing. We could make more concrete plans for our future and better absorb costs inherent in proper functioning of the business. At that time, a large part of our sales were through the internet–which produce substantial cash flow to sustain the working capital of our business. In the short term, we would like to rebuild our 2 dormant websites and increase our internet marketing budget to increase our internet sales. We would also plan to replace at least one of our vehicles to reduce our related costs. As a result of the reduced sales we have experienced in recent years, we had to increase our indebtedness to maintain the standards set for our business, a creditworthy record that has satisfied our suppliers, and compensation necessary to retain our loyal, experienced staff. Accordingly, we anticipate reducing some of our indebtedness. Our objective for sales growth is for at least 10% in the coming year–with higher future growth dependent on the momentum generated from the achievement of goals that we can attain with infusion of the grant.

2nd annual Gay Pride Brunch here at SOB’s

sobWe were happy this year to be a part of the 2nd annual Gay Pride Brunch at SOB’s. Located in the Heart of the Village where it all began just steps from the parade route: SOB’s celebrates another year of pride here in the city. Our P.R.I.D.E. motto (Pure Resilience Igniting Daily Empowerment) Brunch is a platform highlighting 10 individuals of the LGBT community who have made contributions to music, film, fashion, and entertainment industries by helping create awareness on a daily basis on the issues we face as a community. This event is scheduled to take place Sunday, June 28, 2015, from 12 Noon-5pm. It is our hope of celebrating other LGBT business owners and brands by securing donations for this event. sob2

What would a $100,000 grant…?

Question 4 What would a $100,000 grant mean to your business and how will you utilize the funds? Please be as specific as possible.

The $100,000 grant would be a blessing to our business, which has struggled through hard times–especially five years ago, when our florist-in-chief Jeff Gaster suffered a traumatic brain injury during a robbery in our store and CitiFloral was without him for 7 months. Our sales volume–which had peaked in 2008–declined precipitously, and we have been feverishly working to restore the business activity that established us as one of the premier florists in New York. While we have used our limited resources to establish a strong social media presence, we have been unable to conduct a more expensive marketing campaign to reestablish an internet sales volume that would once again generate the cash flow necessary for us to properly support our expenses. We completely rebuilt our main website (citifloral.net) last year–and we still maintain 4 others–but had to temporarily abandon our 2 specialty sites–which we would like to rebuild if funds are available. We recently renovated the interior of our store while our landlord modernized our show window and the face of our building. But, we have two veteran delivery vans that require considerable maintenance costs to be reliable 7 days–but which we could reduce with a new vehicle.

How is your business involved with the community you serve?

Question 3. How is your business involved with the community you serve? Examples include: giving back to the community, sourcing locally, and/or contributing to economic development via hiring.

The owners and staff of CitiFloral have always taken an active role in the close-knit local community of Yorkville–getting to know and be known to local residents and business people–having established a deep-seated rapport after 29 years of business (and Jeff Gaster’s 38 years of residence here). Jeff has been a supporter and participant in many community organizations–most notably with groups that have coalesced against the construction of a garbage transfer station. Jeff is also the local notary public to whom locals turn for his services and advice. CitiFloral is best known in our neighborhood for its Share Our Bounty of Flowers program. Started after 9/11 with the generosity of Australians seeking a way to comfort New Yorkers, CitiFloral gives away buckets full of flowers that are past their prime to passersby who anxiously claim their selections to beautify their homes. It’s a great program for those who cannot afford to buy the flowers they deserve to have, for the flowers to have a home, and for us to contribute beauty and kindness to our neighbors. Even before 9/11, our culture of sharing was featured on WCBS Radio for our giving away roses on Good Neighbor Day.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? …

Question 2. What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? Describe both your greatest achievements and biggest challenges.

I started my professional life in New York–after graduating from Harvard Law School–as a corporate and business attorney at a large law firm. Simultaneously, I maintained my lifelong intrigue with business–having pursued this at Penn’s Wharton School. While a lawyer, I invested in some enterprises I didn’t control with mixed results. I decided it would better to use my money in a business in which I participated. A friend who was a lifelong florist and I discussed contributing our complementary talents into a new flower shop. We looked for a location–found one right down the street where I lived–and we signed a lease for a store that had housed a florist. In a couple of weeks, we were the proud owners of a new florist in centrally located Yorkville. Initially not intending to make floristry my life’s career, I was soon drawn into the everyday workings of the flower shop. Every moment since then has been an inexperience of learning on the job–dealing with and overcoming the immense challenges that even a small, complex business presents. But, serving people’s needs and engaging with some of finest people you’d ever want to meet has made this a venture of love.

Tell us about your business….

CitiFloral was recently apart of the Mission Main Street Grant Process. It gave us an opportunity to answer some thought provoking questions that we thought customers might like answered. So we are posting them as a series on our blog as written in the Grant request.

Question 1.Tell us about your business and what makes it unique. Please provide a general description of your product, customers, competitive landscape, and overall performance.
CitiFloral – A Little Shop of Flowers is a reputed New York City florist providing exceptional, creative traditional and exotic flower arrangements and fruit and gourmet gift baskets from our Upper East Side store and design center since 1986. As a premier affiliate of FTD, Teleflora and Interflora, we provide expert prompt delivery service of our flowers to people, businesses, hospitals, funeral homes and institutions throughout Manhattan every day of the year. Our customers and the floral industry choose CitiFloral because of our personal attention to unparalleled service, quality, freshness, elegance and value. We are proud to be a small, enterprising florist in our charming Yorkville neighborhood–where we offer personalized service with a wide variety of fresh seasonal and exotic flowers always available and elegant designs created to suit every consumer’s needs. We thrive on responsiveness to and engagement with our clients–small enough to care, but not too small to respond to all our customers’ needs on the spur of the moment. In our 29 years of devoted service to our demanding but appreciative loyal customers, we have gained valuable experience in understanding and fulfilling their needs and have constantly developed our passion for and tradition of excellence and innovation.

Facebook Reviews

We love our Facebook friends and it appears they love us right back! Have you seen our CitiFloral reviews.
Things like:
Simply the best! You can’t find a better floral shop in NYC!” and “I love it that they are always bringing flowers into the shop that you can’t buy anywhere else.

Vote for us for the Chase Mission Main Street Grant

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We have been entered into the running for a Mission Main Street GrantsĀ®. 20 small businesses are being awarded $100,000 each. Chase bank has been doing this since 2009 and we are a part of it for the first time. If you are a small business owner with less than 100 employees and have been in business for 2 years or more we encourage you to apply. #missionmainstreetgrants
Voting is happening now and will continue through June 19th. We would love a vote from you. Click here and vote.

Peonies are Back

We’re getting our first in-season Carolina peonies tonight.
Peonies are really popular in their peak–which runs about one month, May.

Father’s Day 2015 – ’65 Ford Mustang Deluxe

For some reason I can’t get the lyrics of Mustang Sally out of my head. It may be because we just got our shipment of 65 Ford Mustang collectible containers. Hand-painted in classic poppy red, this ceramic Ford Mustang is a one-of-a-kind collectible gift for Father’s Day for sure, but I can see giving this at any time of the year. It is a welcomed addition to our collectibles. And it reminds me of my first car a 68 Mustang. Mine was gold by the way.