Wednesday, February 26, 2014

KB Wanderings


I was in downtown Palo Alto, CA last Thursday night meeting my wife Karen for a drink. As I was crossing Emerson Street, I looked up and was saddened to see that Stanford Florist had closed.  

I wasn’t surprised. The owners are older now, and a friend of theirs was trying to take care of business, but the writing was on the wall.  The real estate in Palo Alto is close to Manhattan prices, and the store is in a very prime area surrounded by tech start-ups, trendy bars and restaurants.  

I remember this shop because 24 years ago, I drove a “wet truck” trying to convince the German owner to buy our flowers, “Only if you don’t sell to the florist next door.”   The neighbor was another German florist who had formerly worked for her before quitting and opening next door.  Once upon a time, Palo Alto had 15 florists, today there are 5.  

Business continues to evolve and the local florist has become a victim of the changing retail landscape.  Progressive florist will continue to thrive by offering products and services not available through the mass market or online, but “it will never be like it used to be.”  I suppose that is the definition of "change."


We are expecting a storm this week; this is welcome news to all Californians.  This storm will not end the drought and the flower industry holds its breath that we will not be affected by the drought long term.  One industry that has had a bad year is the ski industry.  

I was up in South Lake Tahoe skiing at Heavenly for only the second time this year.  The skiing wasn’t bad, however, you can look down from the California trail and see all the brown around Lake Tahoe, usually the shores are completely white this time of year.  

Mt Tallac from Fallen Leaf Lake


It is beautiful but usually in February, we would not be able to hike to Fallen Leaf.  Where we would usually walk, there would be 2 or 3 feet of snow. This year, there was none.  And as much as I enjoy the novelty of walking to the beach without any snow, it leaves an uneasy feeling. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's 2014 from the SF Market

The Kitayama Family has been very involved with the San Francisco Market for over 100 years. On my mother’s side, the Domoto family owned the flower shop that was the first location for the SF Market. 

For the past 65 years, KB has supplied flowers to various vendors in the market who are not only customers but friends.   

Below is a short video from my walk around the market on February 12, 2014.  There were a lot of buyers and a lot of flowers.  Almost nothing in the flower business matches the energy and atmosphere of the SF Market when it is “jumping” before the holiday.  

I enjoy talking to some of the old timers like Don Garibaldi and Rich Gatti, and at the same time admire the new energy and ideas of recent tenants such as Christina Stembel of FarmGirl Flowers.

I travel across the country visiting flower companies and flower markets.  
Hands down - San Francisco still has the best market.  
Northern Californians take the SF Market for granted, but I would embrace it.
It might not be here forever.   

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Rich Dallimonti: Man on Fire

Every company says, “We are only as good as our people." 

It's a cliché, but it is true for KB.  Rich Dallimonti has been selling at KB Watsonville for 30 years, and still fights for sales as if he was the new kid trying to prove himself.  He is the top salesperson and has been for many, many years.  

Whether we are growing roses, lilies, gerberas, or other crop he is able to find homes for them.  If you have any connection with KB, you probably have met or talked to Rich. Talking is where Rich excels, I don’t know anyone whose energy grows the more they tell you about hockey, country music, walking the dog, cigar smoking, fixing the car or gerbera daisies.  


Another thing that is special about Rich is when there is a local news story; Rich for some reason is always at the scene.

Whether it is accidents, robberies, bodies flying out of party buses or flaming cars as the photo shows (his own, on the way down the KB driveway) Rich is nearby.  

I am not sure what this says about him or if it is safe to stand close to him. 

The best policy is to call Rich, buy flowers from him and DON’T ask, “How about those Sharks”, unless you have a little time to spare. 

For all the buyers out there, we still have pink snaps and tulips for Valentine's shipping.  Call Rich, ask about his car fire and he will give you a great deal on pink snaps or tulips.  Actually any of our sales staff can do the same, minus the story.