Monday, September 04, 2000

Free roses meant as gesture to neighbors




By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HARRISON — The roses will arrive Tuesday, packed in boxes, more than 8,000 representing more than 1,000 pounds, all shades, packaged in bunches of a dozen.

        Matt Hiatt and his employees will get to work at Hiatt's Florist early Tuesday, unpack the roses, give them a fresh cut and get them in water.

        Beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday, people will line up at Hiatt's, 1106 Stone Drive, and each can take home a dozen roses. Free.

        The only catch is that those who pick up their dozen roses — some 667 people — are asked to keep just one and hand the other 11 out to neighbors — preferably to people they don't know well.

        “This is a way they're going to meet new people and show some kindness,” said Mr. Hiatt. “It's bringing it back home. I live in a neighborhood that has sidewalks. People smile, wave and say hello. But how many times nowadays when you're walking down the street do you say hello when you pass someone? The more people we can reach, they're getting the idea. The whole idea is to make new friends, new acquaintences. Show our neighborliness to one another.”

        This is the fourth year that Hiatt's Florist has participated in the FTD Good Neighbor Day. Each year they've increased the number of roses they've given away. The florist picks up the tab, usually about $2,000. FTD provides kits and tips on how to get the word out.

        Last year, Hiatt's handed out 7,500 roses in bunches of a dozen. The year before, 6,000. The first year, 5,000.

        Andrea Buckley, an FTD spokeswoman, said about 2,500 florists nationally participate in the FTD Good Neighbor Day. The idea started with a florist in Jackson, Miss., who began the practice of handing out free roses, asking customers to spread the roses around.

        “He wanted a way to show his community how much he cared about them,” said Ms. Buckley. “Then he approached us.”

        The idea took off. Florists choose to participate and how many roses or flowers they want to give away. This year, a florist in Schenectady, N.Y., and another in Baltimore are giving away 100,000 each. With those numbers, Ms. Buckley estimated, probably close to one million roses and flowers will be handed out Wednesday.

        Hiatt's Florist will hand out roses until they run out.

        Mr. Hiatt doesn't know how many people who actually pick up the roses hand them out to neighbors. But he's a believer in the better side of human nature. He's an optimist.

        “I think half of them will do it,” said Mr. Hiatt. “If half do it, then I'm reaching 4,000 people.”

       



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