BY INDIANA NASH
SCHENECTADY- When J.J. Moran began his bike ride down Union Street, he had no idea that he would be doing more than one kind of pedaling on the morning of October 19.
“Whoa, slow down,” shouted Jo-Ann Mingo, owner of Flowers By Jo-Ann, as Moran tried speeding by her shop.
On the brakes went and Moran came to a halt. But he wasn’t scolded by Mingo.
He was given two bouquets of flowers and asked to keep one and to give one away.
Many pedestrians walking along Upper Union Street got a little surprise on the stunningly summer-like morning when Mingo handed them bouquets of brightly colored flowers for a campaign known as “Petal It Forward.”
“To put a smile on people’s’ faces and to give them the power of flowers, that’s why we’re doing this,” said shop owner Joann Mingo.
She is partnering with the Society of American Florists for the campaign.
“The SAF started this when they conducted research with three universities. They found that when it come to flowers, it’s as good to get as it is to give,” Mingo said.
According to one study done by the SAF, 89% of people remember the last time they gave flowers as a gift and 56% of people remember the last time they received flowers.
Those who give flowers are also more likely to be viewed and friendly and caring. Around 70 percent of people have a high appreciation for flowers.
The campaign began last year in New York City. This year, the movement has gone national, with florists in 47 states participating. Though Mingo’s shop is the only in the area to become a part of the campaign, 16 cities across New York “Petaled-It-Forward” this year.
In Schenectady, florists from Flower’s by Jo-Ann gave away two bouquets to each person they saw.
“They can give it to someone in their office or wherever they work, but the intent is to give it to a complete stranger,” Mingo said.
Each bouquet is a unique arrangement and contains a little fact sheet of information on the “Petal it Forward” campaign.
After being in the florist industry for over 30 years, Mingo knows first-hand the impact that flowers can have on her customers.
Prior to starting her shop at 1613 Union Street, Mingo ran a flower shop in Massachusetts.
“I came to this part of town because I watched the traffic flow and it’s very conducive to the wedding industry,” Mingo said.
The shop opened about a year and a half ago and she’s found that the community has been nothing by supportive.
“There’s a great camaraderie between businesses here,” Mingo said.
She’s hoping to bring that same sense of togetherness to the people of Northern Schenectady.
“While we see the effects that flowers have on people when we do deliveries, a lot of times we’re talking with people on the phone for orders and don’t really get to see it,” said Mingo.
For Diahann Zarraga the bouquets brought back a sense of being home.
“I came back here to visit for the first time in 17 years . . . I’m going to give these to my mom. These are going to make her day,” Zarraga said, before giving Mingo a hug and going on her way.
Diane Hermandez, another florist from the shop, walked up and down Union Street with a basket of the bouquets in arm to give out the 200 bouquets.
“I’ll tell you what, I’m not going to be able to stop smiling for days on end,” Hermandez said.
Shortly after receiving the bouquet, J.J. Moran began to pedal away slowly and with flowers in hand, looking for someone else to ‘petal-it-forward’ to.