Section (A)
A Rose Is a Rose
Nothing says love like a dozen long-stemmed roses on Valentine's Day. More than a million roses will be sold during this festival for lovers, the biggest day of the year for the nation's rose industry. For rose growers, those who distribute roses, and those who sell, this year's anticipated 7% increase in sales will be sweeter than a 5-pound box of chocolate candy. "Red roses say ‘I love you’," says Gerald Hager, executive director of a marketing research institute. "It's going to remain the most popular flower because love never goes out of style."
Yes, a rose is a rose is a rose. But selling them is no longer a beautiful experience for traditional flower shops. Supermarkets now offer convenience to the busy. And discount rose shops help those hopelessly in love save money.
Roses Only is a good example of a discount rose retailer that was transformed from a traditional shop to answer the challenge in the '90s. Except for today, prices range from $6 for a dozen short-stems to $19 for a dozen of its longest stems. The company, which has its headquarters in New York, has three stores in New York, one in Canada and five in Spain. It plans to expand to three more U.S. cities this year.
Inside this store, on Sixth Avenue near 40th Street, contemporary white furniture and wall-to-wall mirrors give it an expensive look. Customers — some dressed in work clothes, some in expensive suits and overcoats — circulate among the counters and stare at shelf after shelf of roses in more than 50 colors. Some customers say the high quality of the roses makes them look as if they spent a fortune. "I spent $20 but (they) looked like I paid 60 or 70 dollars," says one customer.
Studies show more people are buying roses in ones, twos and threes these days. In fact, more than half of all roses are sold in groups of fewer than a dozen, says the Floral Index, a private firm that researches the flower industry. But Roses Only's prices encourage people to spend. Even on Valentine's Day, when the price of a dozen roses and delivery can soar as high as $150, 12 of Roses Only's most expensive flowers sell for just $35. "If we can make someone's day brighter for $35 instead of $65, then they'll have enough money left over for candy and dinner," says the general manager of Roses Only's New York stores.
The company's formula for success is to hold prices down by controlling every link in the rose chain. It grows its own roses in the sunshine of the Andes Mountains near the capital of Ecuador. Fresh roses are sprayed with water to keep them moist and flown to company stores three times a week. The New York stores sell about 45,000 stems a week, along with other items like balloons and stuffed animals. Roses Only can arrange delivery via overnight mail to anywhere in the country.
While discount rose retailers watch their business bloom, U.S. rose growers are going bankrupt amid severe foreign competition. Sales of U.S.-grown roses have declined from 565 million in 1988 to an estimated 520 million in 1993, says an industry group. In 1988, imports accounted for 34% of roses sold here. Today, more than 57% of roses sold in the USA are grown in other countries. The biggest foreign producers are Colombia and Ecuador, which accounted for almost 90% of the total imported last year. Imported roses are sold across the entire breadth of the industry, from big flower shops to street-corner stands.
The trend has hurt domestic rose growers such as Johnson Flowers of California, considered to be this country's leading producer. "The rose industry in this country is going down," says Michael Johnson. "Our profit margin has dropped substantially."
Johnson, 64, is one of four brothers who launched the company in 1948. Second-generation family members and in-laws now help run greenhouses in California and Colorado. Johnson won't release exact numbers, but he says the company sells "several million roses" a year.
What's happening now is a familiar experience for Johnson. Until the 1960s, the Johnsons grew nothing but carnations. Then "overseas people" began unloading carnations, he says, and virtually chased U.S. carnation growers out of business.
The volume of rose imports has already crushed some domestic growers. Now, instead of fighting overseas rivals, the Johnsons are trying to work with them. "We have a few bulk distribution centers where we sell some imported roses," Johnson says. "We may also widen our business to include the service area and be a representative for overseas flower producers." As a replacement for lost rose sales, the Johnsons and other growers also are starting to sell other types of flowers.
U.S. growers got a break this Valentine's Day; a recent frost killed 25% of Colombia's rose crop. But next year, the weather may not be on their side. "It's hard to operate a business on someone else's disaster," Johnson says.
All the changes are making some in the rose business long for the good old days, when neighborhood flower shops arranged and delivered every Valentine's Day bundle of flowers. "It generates attention," says one rose seller. "Somebody steps out of the elevator, goes into the office, and puts roses on a typist's desk. Then everybody cranes their necks to see, and wonders who sent them to her."
And today, some will wonder whether they cost $10 or $100.
Words: 910
New Words
festival n. 节日,喜庆日,(文化娱乐的)节
lover n. 1.情人,恋人 2.爱好者
distribute vt. 1.(尤指向商店)供应(货物),发售 2.分发,分送,分配 3.使分布,散布;撒,播
candy n. 糖果
executive a. 执行的,行政的
n. 主管,高级行政人员,行政官
supermarket n. 超级市场
discount n. 折扣
vt. 1.打折 2.不(全)信, 漠视,低估
headquarters n. 总部,总局;司令部
avenue n. 林阴道,大街
circulate v. 1.(使)移动,(使)循环,(使)流通 2.(使)流传,散布,传播
counter n. 柜台
v. 反对,反击,对抗,反驳
index n. 1.指数 2.索引
vt. 为... ...编索引,将... ...编入索引
delivery n. 1.投递,送交;投递的邮件,发送的货物 2.分娩
soar vi. 1.升高,高涨 2.翱翔
formula n. 1.方法,计划,准则 2.公式,方程式 3.配方,处方
sunshine n. 日光,阳光
spray v. 喷,喷射,溅
n. 浪花,水花
moist a. 潮湿的,湿润的
balloon n. 气球
via prep. 通过,经由,经过
bloom vi. 1.发展良好 2.开花,绽放
n. 1.花 2.最佳时期,繁盛时期
bankrupt a. 1.破产的 2.彻底缺乏(某种良好事物)的
n. 破产者
amid prep. 在... ...中,被... ...围绕
import n. 1.进口商品,输入品 2.进口,输入
vt. 进口,输入
breadth n. 宽度,幅度
margin n. 1.差额,利润 2.差数,余地,余裕 3.页边,页边的空白
launch vt. 1.发起(运动),推出(产品) 2.使(船)下水;发射(火箭、卫星等)
n. 发起;发射
release vt. 1.发布,发表,发行 2.释放,放开,放松
n. 1.解脱,释放 2.发行的新书、电影、唱片等;发布的新闻
◆carnation n. 康乃馨
unload vt. 1.卸(货);从……卸下货物 2.从(枪、炮)中退出子弹;从(相机)中取出胶卷
chase vt. 1.驱赶,驱逐 2.追捕,追赶
n. 追踪,追捕
rival n. 竞争对手,敌手
vt. 与……相匹敌,比得上
widen v. (使)变宽,扩展
replacement n. 1.替代的人或物 2.代替,替换,取代
bundle n. 束,捆
vt. 收集,归拢
elevator n. 电梯,升降机
typist n. 打字员
crane v. 伸长(脖子)
n. 起重机,吊车
Phrases and Expressions
go out of style 不再时兴,过时
offer sth. to sb. 向某人提供,向某人提出
range from … to … 在一定范围内变化或扩展
look like 看起来像;好像要
be left over 剩下来,留下来
hold down (使)保持低水平,(使)不增加,(使)不升高
account for 1.占去 2.解释
go down 下降,降低
nothing but 只有,除... ...以外什么也不
chase sb./sth. out 驱赶,驱逐
work with sb. 与某人共事,与某人协作
get a break 交好运,时来运转
on sb.'s side 对某人有利;赞同某人的意见
long for sth. 渴望,极想
the good old days (在人的一生中或在历史上)过去的美好时光
Proper Names
Valentine's Day 圣瓦伦丁节,情人节(2月14日,情人多在此日互赠礼物)
Gerald Hager 杰拉尔德·黑格
Roses Only "惟一玫瑰"花店
Sixth Avenue 第六大道
40th Street 第四十街
Floral Index 花卉指数
Andes Mountains 安第斯山脉(南美洲西部)
Ecuador 厄瓜多尔(南美洲西北部国家)
Colombia 哥伦比亚(南美洲西北部国家)
Johnson Flowers 约翰逊花卉公司
Michael Johnson 迈克尔·约翰逊
Colorado 科罗拉多州(美国州名)