Oddly, although downtown seems to be booming, Taylor says business is down for him. He says he is selling fewer flowers this year than he has in any of the past 10 years he’s been doing it.
If you spend any time at all downtown, you have seen Taylor. He’s the quiet fellow who strolls in and out of restaurants on Market Square, on Gay Street and in the Old City with a bucket full of stunningly beautiful roses. His roses are the best I’ve seen anywhere in Knoxville. He ships them in and sells them individually. You can get three for nine dollars and pick them out yourself in any combination of colors. And Taylor’s roses last for a week if you follow his simple advice: cut the stems when you get them home and then put them in water. Every day, cut a little more off the stem to help them take in more water.
It must be his quiet, pleasant demeanor that causes restaurants to welcome him on their premises. That’s also probably why the readers of Metro Pulse last month voted him the city’s best street vendor.
Alan and I were stunned a few weeks ago when we bought some roses from Taylor while we were having dinner at Cocoa Moon and he told us this is probably his last season in Knoxville. “What will you do next,” I ask. His reply: “Whatever the universe tells me to do.”
“And will you stay in Knoxville,” we inquire. “No,” he says. “It’s time to go.”
“Where?” we persist. “Where ever the universe sends me,” he says again. You get the impression he is eager to go.
We are astounded to hear that business is so bad. “But surely First Fridays are good,” I remark. “All the restaurants are packed!”
Taylor says that, on the contrary, First Fridays are awful for his business. “The people at First Friday look at me like I’m chewing gum on the bottom of their shoe,” he says. “It’s my regular restaurant customers who sustain me.”
In addition to selling roses by the stem, Taylor also sells buckets of rose petals for $25 per bucket. “I clean my roses,” he explains. “That’s where I get the rose petals to sell.” If the buckets of petals don’t sell, he strews them along the sidewalks of Market Square, Gay Street and the Old City. “It’s my form of recycling,” he says.
I always smile and think of him on mornings when I see the trail of rose petals.
I’ll hate to see him go.