Flower Vendor Spreads Fragrance And Smiles

Everyone wants to see her coming
BY: CATHY WATKINS

She’s been selling flowers by walking the streets of Cabo for 10 years, working hard to provide for her family.  Her name is Sderina Ortiz.  She’s 48 years old and a single mother with three children ages 26, 14, and 12.   Originally, she’s from the state of Guerrero.  Her husband left her 12 years ago, so she decided to leave Guerrero and come to Cabo with her children.  Her youngest child was only one year old at that time. 

Sderina walks around selling her flowers five days, resting on Sunday and Monday.  She has her regular route in downtown Cabo, and by now knows most of the merchants there. With her warm smile and gentle manner, she is welcome in most of the bars, and knows to approach couples and push her flowers at the gentleman. She even knows the people who frequent the bars, and is well aware of which are pushovers for her product.  After selling flowers for so many years, she has an established client base that buys regularly from her. 

She starts selling round 5:00 p.m and walks around town with her arms full of flowers until they are empty. After all, she has a perishable product and must sell them all each night.  When she starts out, you can hardly see her from behind all those flowers she carries.  It’s amazing that as hard as she works and as much as she walks, she isn’t skinny. She is far from it.

Most of the time, she is accompanied by one or the other of her sons who help her by holding the flowers and trailing along behind.  She said that she likes to bring one of the boys with her because they are less apt to get into trouble if they’re with her.  Her youngest son is very shy, which is just the opposite of her.

Her face is always lit up with a smile, and she will talk to you.  That is if you speak Spanish, as she speaks no English. She is shy with English speakers, but gets along just fine with that smile. So fine, in fact, that it’s not uncommon for her fans to buy her a drink. She prefers a nice cold beer, and she’ll sit and rest while she drinks it. But she’s still selling! She will make the deal as she drinks her beer.                

She’s got this gig down pat, as the flowers she sells are shipped directly to her, so they are fresher and last longer.  She prefers to keep her prices low in order to sell more, so they cost less than $6 for a stem of lilies and 3 roses.  Individual roses are also for sale.  Many times she gives you a free rose if you buy the bouquet.

Many people want to know how she has managed to corner the flower market in downtown Cabo and keep a strong hold on it.   A few others sell flowers, but not the volume that she does, and they may or may not have a permit.  So now we will pass on her secret as she tells it:

She says the secret to her success is her bouquets have one more flower compared with those of the other vendors, and her prices are lower.  She attributes her success to her loyal customers, the freshness of her flowers, selling in volume, and having a permit.  

 She says she has the required permit to sell, so she can sell without fear.  It costs her $32 U.S. each month to maintain that permit, but remember, that’s her only overhead other than shoe leather. She has no shop or storefront to maintain. Also remember that 47% of all Mexicans work in this, the “informal market”. Under the table we would say in the States. We’re not saying she’s not paying taxes, we’re just saying almost half of all Mexicans in this informal market do not.

So. The next time you see Senora Otiz on the street or see her walk into your favorite bar, and you buy a bouquet, you know it’s going to a good cause to support the head of a household who works very hard to take care of her family.