The Flower Seller of South Street

It has been two years since nine-year-old Scott Grady and his Dad, Warwick, decided to sell flowers grown right from their own sprawling suburban garden.

According to Scott, there is a comical story that marks the moment that his project first came to light: a lady surprised the family by appearing in the front yard carrying a kitchen knife at the ready…

Scott and dogOf course it turned out that she had innocent motives. She had just one simple query – could she cut some flowers? Enough to cater for a wedding? She left with buckets brimming, leaving father and son discussing the possibility of selling flowers as a project. “I came up with the idea of it being a cart,” Scott says.

Warwick is an avid gardener; “I do the growing, the cutting and the spraying”. Scott is a busy kid who loves a project. “Scott does the PR, bulk negotiations and accounts.”

The cart is situated outside their home on South Street in Palmerston North, a busy school area with lots of foot traffic. Scott reckons most customers pick up a bunch and leave $2 in the honesty box, and many donate generously. On occasion individuals even buy the entire cartload. Dishonesty is not a common problem for them. “If we get one bunch stolen a month we talk about it, it’s unusual,” says Warwick.

It was a nice thing, you kind of think; even at 3 o’clock in the morning people are out there caring

Despite its surprising popularity, the cart is not a commercial floristry service. After a complaint was filed with the council the cart now displays a permit, which may make Scott one of the youngest registered ‘hawkers’ in the region.

For Scott it is not all about the money he can make for himself. In fact the project has turned him into a bit of a philanthropist. “Originally, the money was going towards my martial arts and swimming lessons, but we were getting too much money,” says Scott.

FlowersInstead he now donates $40 a month to World Vision to sponsor a boy named Christopher from Malawi. He has also sent some of his earnings to Red Cross in support of the Nepal earthquake recovery programme.

While there is much to celebrate, not all has been smooth sailing for the Gradys; in February 2014 Scott’s cart fell victim to a night-time arson attack.

The police arrived to alert the family but Warwick recalls that the neighbours were first on the scene. “People used the flower buckets that were already there, leaving the flowers all tidily set aside, and used the water to put the fire out.

“It was a nice thing, you kind of think; even at 3 o’clock in the morning people are out there caring.”

Naturally Scott was upset about the attack, but he responded with resilience and decided he “would not give up”.

Originally, the money was going towards my martial arts and swimming lessons, but we were getting too much money

In the week after the fire the cart received a lot of support from customers and organisations in the area. Courtesy of a local business, the cart was even given a much-needed facelift. Now beautifully painted in a glossy green, with professional sign writing to match, it makes a grand statement on the street.

The past couple of years have brought the little cart much more attention than anticipated, and business is expanding beyond the front gate. Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School now sells Scott’s flowers in the summer and Scott has also interviewed a potential franchisee.

Scott and his flowers for saleMost of all the Gradys enjoy the hub that the cart creates on their doorstep. “School children and elderly people come to sit on the fence and watch the flowers and the fountains going… there are butterflies flying around, and bees buzzing, it’s quite nice,” says Warwick.

As for Scott, he may have become South Street’s flower cart king, but he is also a kid with many projects on the go, and endless ideas waiting in line up his sleeve. He has a few words of advice for anyone who has an idea brewing: you may end up becoming “pretty famous” but he thinks most importantly you need to be original and come up with your own ideas.