Best in Blooms

Photo by Beth Hontzas

Photo by Beth Hontzas

As it moves to a new location, Dorothy McDaniel’s Flower Market continues to provide Birmingham with first-rate flowers.

By Lauren Lockhart


“I always did flowers when I entertained, and then people started asking me to do flowers for them,” explains Dorothy McDaniel, founder of Birmingham’s foremost floral business Dorothy McDaniel’s Flower Market. “It became evident after about a year that I was either going to have to go into business or go out of friends.”

It was in this moment, nearly 40 years ago, that McDaniel realized she could turn her natural knack for transforming simple flowers into exquisite arrangements into a real enterprise.

“I decided to open a little business,” she says. “I got a Pepsi-Cola cooler and painted flowers on the side where it said “Ya-hoo! Mountain Dew!” I rented a 12’x 12’ room in a little house that had been turned into boutiques on Linden Avenue, and that was all I had.”

These humble roots quickly bloomed into a business that got all of Birmingham talking. Now, 37 years later, Birminghamians still know who to call when they’re looking for a spectacular floral centerpiece, bouquet, or gift that sets the standard for flower arrangements in our city.

While Dorothy McDaniel’s Flower Market is synonymous with high-quality, one-of-a-kind arrangements, McDaniel stresses that her store’s premier work does not make it inaccessible.

“Sometimes when you’re successful, people think you charge more,” she says. “Because we do lovely flowers, people think they aren’t affordable, and that is absolutely not true. In fact, we will meet anyone’s price for comparable flowers—or beat it. Because we buy in large quantities, our prices are very competitive. “

One of McDaniel’s most popular affordable options is specifically catered to those feeling particularly inspired by her store’s vibrant blooms.

“We’ve been offering design-it-yourself flower arranging before DIY was popular,” she laughs. Dorothy McDaniel’s Flower Market houses a walk-in cooler designated solely for customers, inviting them to bring their own vases and create their own custom arrangement for something as small as a dinner party, or as grand as a wedding.

“Often, brides will have us do the bouquets and the boutonnieres, and then they’ll buy flowers from us at very good prices to do their own arrangements,” explains McDaniel.  “We’ll even house their DIY arrangements for them, and we’ll deliver them to the wedding.”

If the idea of designing your own floral arrangement seems daunting, don’t worry. McDaniel offers in-store classes that teach flower arranging basics. As for now, what floral fundamentals would McDaniel offer to the amateur arranger?

“Simplicity—using all one flower—is much easier to execute than having to deal with many different flowers and colors,” she says. “For example, put all tulips in your vase, maybe with a little filler, and you’ll have a beautiful arrangement.”

For the amount of talent that McDaniel has, most are surprised at how quickly and willingly she shares her skills to educate others in flower arranging. For McDaniel, however, teaching what she knows is all part of the fun.

“Learning how to arrange flowers makes it more exciting for the individual, because they can do it themselves,” she says. “We’d be just as happy to sell you flowers in a bundle for you to arrange as we’d be to arrange them for you.”

It’s safe to say that when she started her business as a young wife and mother of three a few decades ago, McDaniel probably never dreamed her love for flower arranging would have developed to where it is today. And from here, it is only continuing to grow. McDaniel will be moving her store from its current location in Homewood—where it has resided for 13 years—to a new, larger location in downtown Birmingham. McDaniel couldn’t be more excited about the official opening at the new location on June 30.

“Downtown Birmingham is where the action is for the future,” she says. “Part of my heart will definitely remain in Homewood, and we will miss being there, but we can provide more for our customers at our new store.” Upgrades to the new facility include greater on-site storage and a conference room for meeting with brides.

Of course, the new store will emanate McDaniel’s vibrant personality. “We’re going to paint our building lime green because I could not bear to have a beige metal building,” she laughs. “It’s going to be out there!”

A new location isn’t the only project in the works for McDaniel. In addition to the two books she has already published, Dorothy’s Simply Beautiful Flowers and Flowers by Dorothy McDaniel, the floral designer hints at a new online publication that teaches her signature flower skills to even the greenest of at-home arrangers.

“It’s called Flower Arranging by Numbers,” says McDaniel. “Every month, we’ll send you a flower design, and it will tell you by number exactly which flower to place where. If you can paint by numbers, you can do flowers by numbers.” Those interested can expect this upcoming publication to be available for subscription in January 2015.

After 37 years, McDaniel continues to cultivate new and innovative services for her store’s valued customers. And after speaking with the flower shop owner for just a few minutes, it is easy to see that her success stems from her natural passion for flowers and compassion for pleasing people.

“The beauty of flowers is so inspiring. When we see the joy on a customer’s face upon showing them the flower arrangement we made for them,” McDaniel pauses, smiling. “Well, that inspires us all to do the best job that we can.”

With daily inspiration from the people that surround her, McDaniel will continue to provide Birmingham with the best blooms for years to come.


This story is sponsored by Dorothy McDaniel’s Flower Market. The store’s new location will be open on June 30 at 3300 3rd Avenue South next to Mayer Lighting.



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