Valerie Hunter, 30, dreamed of starting her flower business for about ten years before she sold her first bouquet at a race finish line.
Hunter is in the early phase of running her own small business where she sells bouquets of flowers for runners who just finished their race. Called Bravo Bouquets, her booth selling stunning bundles of fresh flowers can be found near the finish line of select races in Toronto (so far), on her website, or on Instagram under the handle @BravoBouquets. (Follow Bravo Bouquets on Instagram to find out about her upcoming events which are soon to be announced.)
It’s an interesting spin on race day swag and many runners would agree that it’s an original service to see on race day.
“We all come to expect a a cool shirt, finisher’s pack and medal. Very few people expect a lovely bouquet of flowers,”says Hunter. “People train really hard. Even for 5K races, they take it really seriously.”
With 2016 being the first year Hunter was present at races to sell the flowers, her business is quite young. Last year, she appeared at the Toronto Women’s Running Series in Sunnybrook Park to sell the bouquets for the first time. Following that, she also set up a booth at the B&O Yorkville Run.
“I’ve been running since I was eight years old,” says Hunter. “I grew up in a family of runners.” Her running has taken her to many races in Canada and abroad but she says she hasn’t ever seen anyone selling bouquets to tired runners at the finish line. Selling flowers to runners was something she often thought about doing. It was during a conversation with her brother that she finally committed to the idea.
“He said ‘Why don’t you just do it? Stop talking about it. Give it a shot!'” she says. So she did, last year.
In order for a spectator to purchase flowers, they can either find her at the finish line or order one online in advance. She notes that if they buy from her in person on race day, she accepts cash and credit. But of course, spectators aren’t the only ones who purchase the bouquets.
“Surprisingly, a number of runners bought bouquets for themselves,” says Hunter.
Looking back on the two race day experiences she’s had before she prepares for another season, Hunter has one memory that stands out from the Toronto women’s race in Sunnybrook Park last year.
“There was a little boy shyly walking around my booth,” Hunter says. She felt like the boy, about five years old, was curious about the flowers and she started talking to him. “He said ‘I’m here for my mom.’ I said ‘You know what, take these flowers and give them to your mom,'” she says. “He knew these flowers were something his mom would want.”
When it comes down to it, Hunter is really just wants to blend the feeling one has after completing a race with the pleasant surprise of receiving flowers. “It’s such a special feeling,” Hunter says on receiving the gift of colourful fresh flowers. “I love it and appreciate it so much.”