In this period of economic crisis in Honduras, many merchants are frustrated because their products are not in demand. The flower market, however is blooming.
A dozen merchants working a great deal of time in this business, say they are not suffering, because someone is always looking for flowers as a gift, or to decorate for a unique or momentous event.
This morning, a young man of 23 arrived early at the market to order 19 arrangements of lilies. He paid 150 Lempiras each, and asked the supplier to guarantee delivery on Saturday.
The young Mr. Rodriguez watched as the merchant prepared a sample arrangement. “These flowers are mine,” he said, “I’m getting married on Saturday.”
Thanks to customers like Rodriguez, who still buy flowers for special occasions, Vilma Lara, 24, manages to keep afloat her small business. She is helped by her mother, who at 60, keeps the stand full of roses, lilies, sunflowers and other imported varieties, as well as flowers native to Honduras. This flower stand began with her now deceased grandmother, Fidelina Chavarria, several decades ago, when the market had first opened.
Maria Rodriguez, a single mother, has managed to educate and maintain her household with earnings from the sale of flowers, at the Guamilito market in San Pedro Sula, an activity which she has participated in for thirteen years.
“Before it was my mom (Francisca Paz) who came to sell. I went into the stall and helped her prepare the arrangements, but then I became interested in the business and started to sell,” says Rodriguez. She arrives at the market at seven in the morning and leaves her home at six o’clock.
Her stall in the market is flanked on the right and left with other merchants with flower arrangements to sell. Most are created with a mixture of local flowers and imported flowers from Guatemala and Costa Rica; roses being the most popular among buyers.
“Flowers are a luxury and not everyone buys, but it is a source of employment for many people, even for those who make these wooden bases. If I sell an arrangement, they have also made a sale,” says 41 year old Adalid Cruz. Cruz entered the flower business in 1995, and since then, with his wife, manage to cover household expenses. Even in these times of economic crisis.
The market traders are successful because they can sell flowers at up to 50 percent cheaper than those offered at businesses in the city. They work with local farmers and artisans who grow the flowers and create the wooden bases or ceramic vases; the sales provide an income for many rural workers.
At the Guamilito market in San Pedro Sula, one can purchase an arrangement of 12 flowers for 250 Lempiras.
Most vendors work a 12 hour day, usually from 6 am to 6 pm, but say they are happy, despite the long hours, because they are able to provide for their families despite these difficult economic times.