Location: BW Wholesale Florist in the Strip District
Featured guests: Diana Scalamogna, one of the family owners and Jim Kennedy, the flower buyer
3 things that surprised me:
1. BW Wholesale Florist provides flowers for more than 300 customers in the area — they deliver as far as West Virginia and Hollidaysburg, Pa. Most of their customers are neighborhood florists and event planners who come to their warehouse and choose flowers weekly.
2. The flowers travel a long way before they get to the Strip District. Many of the flowers start their journey in the Netherlands where they’re grown, then sent as cuttings to farms in South America. After maturing down south, those flowers are cut, flown to Florida and then driven to Pittsburgh in a refrigerated truck. Other flowers, like gerbera daisies, are grown in greenhouses in Canada and trucked in from there. At least six truckloads of flowers are delivered to the BW Wholesale Florist warehouse every week.
3. The week before Valentine’s Day is the most hectic time of the year for a flower-centric business. In the 10 days before the holiday, Jim estimates that half a million flower stems pass through the building — he guesses that half of those are roses, which is by far the most popular purchase on February 14.
One thing that didn’t make the final cut: BW Wholesale Florist is a third-generation family business that was founded in Jamestown, NY in 1929. They opened a Pittsburgh location in 1997 and moved to the Strip District in 2005. Diana hopes that her two teenage children will one day be the fourth generation to run the business.
Additional info: BW Wholesale Florist is not open to the public but you can learn more about them by visiting their website.
Want more Yinzer Backstage Pass? Check out our visit to Mancini’s Bread Company, also in the Strip District, where we learned the secrets behind their Italian twist bread.