EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 81 - October 20, 2002 - ISSN 1528-6703     5 of 5

Collector's Corner: Teleflora Keepsakes: Future Collectibles?

By Michele Alice

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As I made my rounds of the yard sales this summer, I joined the ranks of treasure-seekers turning objects over to observe their maker's marks. At one such yard sale, I spied an especially nice looking ceramic teapot decorated with green leaves and flowers. All of the people ahead of me seemed to quickly lose interest in it after a brief glance at its bottom, setting it back upon the table before moving on. Was it flawed? Was it too highly priced? No, it was a Teleflora keepsake - you know, those things that flowers come in on your graduation or anniversary or birthday, instead of in a plain glass vase.

I put it down.

Still, it was really a very nice teapot (and I don't collect teapots!) and it was only fifty cents. So I bought it.

At the very next yard sale, the same thing happened, though that teapot wasn't quite as enticing. I decided not to purchase it, but it did get me to thinking about the desirability of Teleflora giftware as collectibles.

Teleflora keepsakes ("Flowers in a Gift") have been on the market for some 20 years. The idea sprung from the mind of Lynda Resnick, who, along with her husband Stewart, bought the company in 1979. Prior to 1979, Teleflora bouquets arrived in regular vases, a few of which have become collectible in their own right primarily for their transfer designs.

In addition to their own artisans, the Resnicks have collaborated with designers from Disney Studios, Beatrix Potter, Campbell's Soup, Ford Motors, etc., to produce the pitchers, teacups, teapots, ginger jars, candy dishes, colanders - you name it - that have doubled as containers for fresh flowers. Teleflora bouquets have also been accompanied by pull toys, plush bears, porcelain dolls, and Christmas ornaments, to name but a few.

Surprisingly, Teleflora in the secondary (collectibles) market appears to be virgin territory. I could find no books for the collector, no chat rooms devoted to the subject, and no Web sites. There is, of course, the official company site for the professional florist, which lists the current catalog along with other information for the trade. There is also a site for customers, which offers little beyond an "About Us" and a search engine for the Teleflora florist near you.

A search of online auctions, though, indicates some general interest in the market, with Strawberry teapots going for $10 to $15, and Disney candy jars being offered at storefronts for $50 to $60. But that may be due more to the cross-collectibility of teapots and Disneyana than to the Teleflora name.

So what's the prospect for Teleflora collectibles in general? Well, they do have a lot going for them:

*Like the head vases of decades ago, they are "cute" utilitarian objects that most people eventually dispose of at yard sales, the Goodwill, or the landfill. (Think "eventual diminished supply.")

*The earlier items are becoming more difficult to find in pristine condition. (I don't wish to be redundant, but remember, especially in regards to contemporary collectibles, anything less than mint condition just won't cut it.)

*They are generally well-crafted and clearly marked.

*Many are cross-collectible.

*They can still be had for a song.

Most Teleflora I've seen at yard sales have been marked for a dollar or less, so the chances of losing a large investment are slim. After all, if the market never emerges, you can probably recoup your money at your own yard sale!

Happy Hunting!

About the author:

Michele Alice is EcommerceBytes Update Contributing Editor. Michele is a freelance writer in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. She collects books, science fiction memorabilia and more! Email her at makalice @ eBay ID: Malice9

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