If she can’t get there, her husband Rodrigo does, or maybe an employee of their Southern Roots Flower Market makes the run for them.
Flowers are coming in from Ecuador via Miami. They need to be fresh and ready to fill up the marketplace room at the Rodriguez’s floral business in McAllen. It’s not the typical floral shop where an arrangement is pre-made and the price set.
Southern Roots is a market-style concept. The customer picks the flowers with Linaldi-Rodriguez and staff arranging the selection into an artistic piece. Interaction and communication with customers is valued and price is based on what the customer wants and needs – and not a cost preset by the florist.
“You get to pick blooms from the stem and make it your own,” Linaldi-Rodriguez said. “You can spend $2 or $100, whatever the need or occasion may be.”
Linaldi-Rodriguez and her husband were in the social events business as a prelude to their floral business. They decided early on that if they were to branch out to a new business it had to be different and unlike the typical florist concept. Going to a flower marketplace concept made the connection of their preferences for interactivity with customers to being creative in their business model.
The couple traveled to Ecuador to visit with farmers and build contacts to buy the flowers from the sources they needed to make a go of it at their McAllen business. They purchased a 1920-era home near downtown and renovated it to make it the place of their business, opening in 2018.
It’s a busy shop with lunchtime and just after 5 p.m. rush hours. Customers come in and out of the marketplace room with roses, hydrangeas and delphiniums in colorful bundles, ready for professional arrangements by Southern Roots staff.
“If you only need $10 worth, you’ll go out with $10 worth,” Rodrigo Rodriguez said. “You can bring your own vase and we’ll help you fill it up. Flowers are supposed to make you happy.”
Affordable prices can do the same. Southern Roots keeps prices down by buying directly from farmers. It also keeps in close contact weekly with their principal supplier in Ecuador.
“We’ve eliminated three middle men,” Linaldi-Rodriguez said. “It’s why our prices are so good.”
Cultivating a Community
The couple wanted Southern Roots to be more than a floral shop. Before COVID-19, their business hosted a variety of community events, including yoga classes on the front lawn and events catered to pets and their owners.
“We wanted to have a feel like Cheers where you walk in and everyone knows your name,” Rodrigo Rodriguez said, referring to the classic television show. “We wanted it to be like a bar as a gathering place, but selling flowers instead of drinks.”
Southern Roots is doing just that, in part, through social media, especially on Instagram. More than 13,000 followers post hundreds of photos of themselves with the flowers purchased at the McAllen florist.
“We count our blessings every day,” Linaldi-Rodriguez said of their business.
Southern Roots has stayed open recently as an essential business due to specialty food products sold at the business. Flowers, Linaldi-Rodriguez said, became a way to express care and affection when personal visits are not advisable.
“You can send love through flowers,” she said. “You can send an arrangement to your grandmother or mom, and let them know how much you care about them.”