Walter Knoll Florist is the oldest and largest flower shop in St. Louis. Founded in 1883 and run by the 4th and 5th generation of florists, it easily outranks any of its competitors. The operation has seven retail operations and two wholesale plants. They recently opened a newly renovated 60,000 square foot design, call and delivery center on LaSalle Street, also known as “St. Louis Florist Row.” Neighboring the warehouse are five other wholesale operations and four other retail shops.
The sales staff is very knowledgeable and courteous too. On a recent visit to their south city location, they spent a great deal of time showing all of the different arrangements and suggestions for a friend’s anniversary gift. As an example of how much this outfit cares about the quality of their deliveries, someone once told me that he had ordered some flowers and requested that they be left outside on the porch to surprise his wife when she got home. They explained that since it was July and very hot, someone would have to be there to receive them before they wilted! My friend was a little disappointed, but he couldn’t argue with the logic. You can get a very nice basket in the $45.00 to $115.00 price range. Arrangements for all of the occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and funerals fall about the same. Walter Knoll also has a wide selection of plants in the $40.00 to $75.00 price range. Their summer special price for a dozen wrapped roses is the lowest in town, just $9.95.
Nettie’s Flower Garden sits right in the geographical center of St. Louis on the corner of Grand and Chippewa Streets. They have been at that location for over fifty years. Their motto is “flowers within hours.” Right across the street, by the way, is a Schnuck’s supermarket that is on the former site of the old Alexian Brothers Hospital. This is where the exorcism took place that inspired the William Peter Blatty book, The Exorcist, and the movies by the same name. Though not as large as Walter Knoll’s, Nettie’s Flower Garden is pretty much a St. Louis institution just like the Ted Drews Frozen Custard stand that sits right up the street. A dozen wrapped red roses were a little on the high side, price wise, at $40.00, but add a few dollars more and you can get a nice clear glass vase along with the deal. They have several beautiful arrangements with 6 roses that are reasonable, in the $35.00 to $55.00 range. The rest of the occasion arrangements were competitive with the Walter Knoll prices quoted above, and I’m sure they have specials throughout the year, especially around the holidays.
And last on the top three is Flowerama on the corner of Big Bend and Laclede Station Road in Maplewood, just outside of St. Louis. Flowerama is sort of the bargain basement of the flower shops in the St. Louis area, but it’s a good place to shop if you are in a hurry, short on cash, and really have to get something back to your wife before she starts throwing something at you. Roses vary by quality, but you can get a dozen of the not so perfect ones for about $12.00. They have a good selection of houseplants: the back of the place almost looks more like a nursery than a flower shop. One thing that was a little bit confusing was that a good number of the potted plants inside had more than one price label on them. One price was a lot lower than the other. When the attendant was asked about the two prices, he curtly replied that one was the wholesale price and the other was the retail price, the one that you would pay. I remarked that it was a bit confusing and was told he just didn’t have time to scrape off the lower price.
Flowerama is a tad eccentric also. There is a big selection of yard windmills and pink flamingos for sale out in front of the place.
A couple of honorable mentions: Dierbergs, a local supermarket chain, is known for its floral department, and even conducts flower arranging classes from time to time. So if you’re in the mood for one stop shopping, check them out.
Soulard Farmer’s Market has a good selection of locally grown flowers available on the weekends, but they are not professionally arranged.
And don’t forget the old lady with the flower cart who hangs around downtown by city hall.