Thai Flower Garlands and Posies – Working 5 to 9
When I mention to someone Wonderful Wi has a flower business selling Thai flower garlands and posies they sometimes cast an envious eye. They imagine lots of money and the trappings that go with it. They couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure enough, there is profit to be made, but selling Thai flower garlands and posies at a local market starts with a mountain of flowers and ends with a molehill of cash.
Wilai’s grass thatched roof flower factory. It’s primary use is for selling som tum, but twice a month Wi takes root there and makes Thai flower garlands and flower posies to sell at the twice monthly local Buddhist Day market. Some of the flowers used are gathered from the garden. That cuts down costs, but most are bought from Udon Thani, Phon Phisai or Ban Dung. That involves a profit sapping, gas guzzling car ride.
Preparation starts three days before market day. Making Thai flower garlands is time-consuming, a strain on the eyes and can lead to painful repetitive strain injury of the wrist, hand or arm. Wilai has suffered with all three but a wrist support (worn through the night) has thankfully remedied that to a good degree.
Dolly Parton got it wrong when she sang ‘Working 9 to 5… What a way to make a living’. Making and selling flower garlands in Thailand is more like a 5 to 9 job. An early start, perhaps not five in the morning, more like seven, can finish at ten in the evening or later. Wilai’s working day starts at four in the morning on market day and ends early afternoon. Late morning if things go well.
The Thai flower garlands pictured on the right sell for 10 THB each. In the city the price is double that. People in small market towns earn less than city dwellers and expect value for their hard-earned cash.
Market day starts early for Wilai. Up at four, and out the garden gate one hour later. In that time, she showers, grabs a coffee and loads her flower-mobile. The flower garlands are packed in ice boxes and the flower posies in water buckets and plastic bags. There’s still one last thing to do before she leaves for the market.
Wilai lights candles and incense sticks and leaves food for Buddha. She prays for good luck at the market and a safe journey there. It’s a ritual she goes through every market day. Then it’s out the door and away.
Profits aren’t big. Turnover for the day’s sell might reach 6,000 THB. Layout and some small wages paid to family members who help will account for three-quarters of that. Wilai has about 1,500 THB leftover. That’s for four days hard work. Dolly needs to rewrite the lyrics.
Wilai loves flowers, especially the ones she grows in her garden. Her flower business is an extension of her passion and one way to earn a crust. But don’t ever believe there’s big money to be had making Thai flower garlands in rural Thailand.
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