Trip to the Original LA Flower Market
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I wanted to visit the Original LA Flower Market since I first moved to Los Angeles and heard of the wholesale market. I moved late 2019 and then the pandemic hit in 2020, so my outings were pretty much put on pause. The Flower Market opened back up mid-pandemic (temperature checks and masks are required), so I finally made my floral dreams come true last weekend! I thought that it would be perfect fo visit Saturday February 13th, so I could avoid flower up-charges and build my own dream bouquet for a fraction of the price. That being said, that is the only time I have visited, so I’m sure it was a little more crowded than normal (holiday and all) and the flowers might have been a little more pricey due to the demand. Either way, I walked away happy and got some good deals.
Keep reading for tips for your own visit to the beautiful, blooming market.
Flower District History
You know I love a good story, so here’s the dish.
LA’s first floral mart was known as the Southern California Flower Market and was founded in 1912 by local Japanese-American growers. European flower growers joined the game in 1919 and created the American Florists’ Exchange. In 1921 the American Florists’ Exchange incorporated as the American Florists’ Exchange, LTD doing business as The Los Angeles Flower Market. In the 1920’s both flower marts literally flourished and moved around / upsized several to several different locations in order to meet demand. Eventually both flower markets moved to the 700 block of South Wall Street… right across the street from one another. This is where they currently stand and why we call it the Los Angeles Flower District today! They house over 50 vendors, boast more than 125 varieties of flowers, plus a myriad of plants and floral accessories.
Know Before You Go
WHAT IT COSTS:
Entrance Fee. In addition to the fact that the flower prices are closer to wholesale than retail, it’s a market including a plethora of vendors, so think of it like a convenience fee. It is $2 to get in during the week and $1 to get in on Saturday. It is closed Sunday. Bring cash! If you find yourself frequently going, you can opt for a membership which comes out to $40 a year or $60 for a 2 year membership. You get a badge for membership, but if you opt for the normal entrance fee, you are given a sticker to show / wear. The entrance fee gets you into BOTH markets, so don’t worry about that.
Parking, the have a secure parking garage on west side of San Julian St., between 7th and 8th Streets. There are offsite parking lots n Wall St., Maple St., 8th St. as well as on San Julian & 7th. This parking can cost you anywhere between $5 - $10 usually. When I visited we found a meter spot a couple blocks away and just walked. Note that it isn’t the best part of town, so be cautious if you are walking alone.
Flowers and plants. Pricing varies, but from what I have found, you get better quality and larger quantities for the same as retail prices or cheaper. For example, we got a “bunch’ of eucalyptus for $6 and it was probably 3x-4x the amount we’d usually get at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. We also saw a beautiful mid-sized Bird of Paradise plant for $75 - about half the price you’d see at retail. More on pricing in the next section.
Know Before You Go
TIPS FOR THE TRADE:
Go early. Trade gets the first pick of the flowers from 4:00 am - 8:00 am weekdays and 5:00 am - 6:00 Saturdays. The flower market is open to the public 8:00 am - 12:00 pm on weekdays and 6:00 am - 2:00pm on Saturdays. We arrived at 8:00 am on Saturday (found a meter spot easily) and the market was already bustling. Probably because Valentine’s Day was less than 24 hours away, but also because it is the best time to go. Go early and you will have the best pick of the flowers!
Ask before you touch. I learned this the hard way. If there aren’t any prices posted, ask before you pick it up. If you pick it up they know you already want it. If you haven’t picked it up, they are more likely to give you a deal. The first booth I went to saw us coming and kind of gipped us we later realized. Some booths have prices listed, some don’t. Just be aware!
Feel free to haggle. If you feel like trying to negotiate, do it! Especially take advantage of this at booths without prices listed.
Weekday versus weekend. If you go during the week, you are going to get the first pick of the flowers and the flowers are more fresh. If you go during the weekend, you run the risk of certain flowers being gone / the last picks of the litter / flowers that may not be fresh as long. The benefit of going on Saturday is that you are more likely to get a deal . This is because vendors are trying to get rid of inventory before the upcoming week. One of my favorite finds was a “bunch” of ranunculus. The prices weren’t listed and when I asked how much, he said which ones? The dyed ones were still going for their full price of $24, but he gave me the white ones for $7.50, normally $14.50!
Original Flower Market versus Southern California Flower Market. As mentioned above, the entrance fee gets you into both markets. They are located right across the street from each other, so you have easy access to both. SCFM is on the left and OFM is on the right. In my experience, there were more flowers in the Original Flower Market and more plants in the Southern California Flower Market, though I would definitely make sure you go in both! They also both have accessories like vases and such, if you are in need of those items too. The smaller vases were great deals, but the bigger vases and pots were more pricey. They even have a faux floral section if you are looking for some everlasting buds.
What to wear. Don whatever you want - there isn’t a dress code or anything. I would however recommend wearing comfortable shoes. Nick and I both wore sneakers and we were glad we did. You cover a lot of ground and will most likely have your arms full / carrying somewhat heavy items, depending on how much you get and what exactly you buy.
How to carry. We ended up asking a vendor we purchased from for a box to carry our spoils in. We were able to put all of our flowers and flat plants in it, which made carrying / walking around so much easier! IYou could bring your own box or bag which would help too.
Food nearby. Chances are you just exerted a lot of energy early in the morning. After we visited the flower district, we went to Wake and Late for breakfast burritos! It’s only a 4 minute drive / 10 minute walk from the flower markets. Note that if you drive, there isn’t an easy way to park or anything, so it’s best if you walk or have another person in the car with you who can pop out and grab it.
What we bought:
Here’s what we walked away with. I tried to remember the prices, so hopefully that is helpful! There are loads and loads of varietals. If you love orchids, there’s a whole section. Looking for fiddle figs? There are great prices. They also have good selection fo small plants like succulents and air plants. TONS to choose from!
Creamy Spray Roses (I think $12)
Pink Peonies (I honestly can’t remember - peonies aren’t a cheap flower, but I don’t remember the price being crazy. They are in season April - June so they are likely to be less expensive and in more abundance then. There weren’t a ton of them at the market, so scarcity played into that too! I want to say they were $24 or less?)
Pink Hydrangeas (I honestly don’t remember - maybe $10?)
Pinky White Fringed Tulip Eyelash (most expensive… pretty but I wouldn’t buy again - I think $3- $35?)
White Ranunculus ($7.50, normally $14.50)
Silver Dollar Eucalyptus ($6)
Baby Blue Eucalyptus ($6)
Bunny Tails Pampas Grass (I honestly don’t remember, but not expensive - they have large pampas grass too!)
4+ feet Olive Branches (I know it was under $20 - I think $12 for 2 bunches?)
Mini Dragon Tree ($5)
Dwarf Split-Leaf Thaumatophyllum / Philodendron ($25)
I can’t wait to go back! I’m already dreaming of moody, fall bouquets and it isn’t even spring yet. I would highly recommend the flower district - 10/10. Have any favorite blooms or your own insider tip for visiting? Let me know so I can implement them on my next trip.
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