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CEO Jim McCann: People Arn't Spending Money With Anybody

Dag Sundberg |

It used to be that flowers were a bell-weather for the global “mood.” When people were upset, they’d buy flowers. When people were happy, they’d buy flowers. Whether cheerful sunflowers or somber roses, it would seem that flowers would be recession-proof.

But, on the set of “Worldwide Exchange” this morning, 1-800 Flowers CEO Jim McCann told me that’s not the case.

“I've been in business for 35 years. We've had 33 years of growth and in two, not so much. What we found out is that we're a discretionary product,” he said, adding that it’s not so much that people cut back on gifting during tough economic times; they cut down on all spending in general. “When people aren't working or they're intimidated about what's going on around them, the security of their job, the security of their home, they're not spending money with anybody.”

McCann said that most people assume his business is based around major holidays, like Christmas and Valentine’s Day, but, he said, “It’s the everyday occasions that drive our business.” Birthdays, anniversaries, and sympathy flowers provide the company’s primary business—and those events are, for better or worse, happening all the time.

Despite a few slower years than usual, 1-800 Flowers is doing fine. It’s the smaller businesses and vendors that the company relies on that are having a tough time. “

“Companies we used to work with or compete with are now coming to us and saying, ‘I used to have a credit line in my bank and it's not available any more,” he said.

The loss of these smaller vendors translates into fewer jobs, as well. “It's a sad state when the credit crisis is impacting so many small businesses,” McCann said. “As we know, small businesses are generally the businesses that hire first when things start to turn.”

Just sayin' ...I know McCann is all over his commercials. But, I'd be a great spokeswoman for the flower industry and picking up that small business activity. I mean, (boys,) I think everyday is an occasion for flowers.

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