The Original Los Angeles Flower Market is located in the center of Los Angeles Flower District, the largest floral marketplace in the United States. It has been open to the public since 1996 and is now serving customers every Monday through Saturday starting at 8 a.m. with an admission fee of $2 dollars on weekdays or $1 on Saturdays.
Florists, floral designers, event planners and other patrons browse the market’s many varieties of flowers. The dozens of vendors specialize in a wide variety of services ranging from flowers and foliages to floral supplies and accessories.
Anthony Valle, the third-generation manager of Eliseo’s Wholesale, counts the number of roses in a bundle. “Flowers, they mean life, if anything. Everything is connected from flowers to us,” Valle said. Despite growing up immersed in the floral industry, he believes that there is still a lot for him to learn. While the market has become busier during Valentine’s Day season, Mother’s Day brings business to its peak for the vendors according to Valle.
For his grandmother’s 90th birthday, Andre Spicer came to look for her favorite type of flower – orchids. Knowing that his grandmother enjoys colors, he also bought other colorful flowers in hopes of brightening up the mood in her house.
Rufina Aguilar, who works with flowers at The Hydrangea and More, arranges roses imported from Ecuador into a bundle. Not only does being around flowers make her happy, Aguilar also loves designing bouquets for customers and seeing their smiles.
With bundles of flowers in hand, Norma Gamboa stands in front of the balloon collection displayed by Balloons Away, deciding which ones to get for her daughter’s basketball game. She ended up picking two gold foil balloons shaped in the number four, representing her daughter’s jersey number 44, as well as a basketball balloon.
Elizabeth Labra (right) came to the market with her sister Lilly Ayotte (left) in search of flowers for her wedding. However, they stopped to look at the air plants, which Ayotte has at home.
Ramiro Gonzalez Jr. took over his family’s shop, Gonzalez & Sons Wholesale Flowers, in 2007. He believes that unlike foods or other merchandise that people need, flowers are more of a luxury and that the floral industry is likely to be one of the first to die out when a recession occurs. “You have to have a sense of humor when it comes to having a business like this,” Gonzalez said. He put on this sign that said, “If you are Grouchy, Irritable, or Just Plain Mean, there will be a $10.00 Charge for Putting Up With You.” The message from the sign may seem lighthearted, but Gonzalez said he does have to deal with grouchy customers sometimes because of the early opening hours, especially when they can’t find the types of flowers they need for upcoming events.
Stephanie Horsley secures bundles to her cart in an effort to find “the perfect flower” for her church. For 17 years, she has come to the market every week to buy flowers for the altar of the Self-Realization Fellowship. She described a time when an elderly monk from India who visited her church was asked by a younger monk to describe God in one word. He replied with the word “sweetness,” which is what these roses on Horsley’s cart are named.
The flower stem cutter is being used to remove the bottom stems of hydrangeas, which will allow them to absorb water more easily.
Ex-florist Caroline Medrano looks at violets. To her, flowers represent “love, friendship and comfort.” She especially adores flowers with fragrance, like lavender and tuberoses.
Alfredo Compos, who works at Julia’s Wholesale Flowers, removes the plastic cover of a yellow chrysanthemum with his mouth while arranging a colorful bouquet. The vendor sells California-grown flowers as well as flowers from countries like Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico.
Surrounded by fillers and greens, Elizabeth Ochoa, a florist at Mellano & Company, assists a floral designer to select plants for a DJ event. Since 1925, Mellano & Company has been growing lots of the flowers they sell instead of relying on imports.
Robert Bryant holds bundles of flowers for his wife. A floral designer himself, he loves looking at and creating arrangements for others.
The 2-year-old Zephyr Dahlem holds the buttercup bundle that she helped her mother pick.
Before the market closes, Renzo Espinoza Torres, who works at Kimura Plus, unloads some moth orchids from the flower cart to fill the shelf for the next day.