Listen up, ladies. Our name isn’t Barb’s Best Blossoms because we’re running a charity here. Do we arrange FRESH CUT GERBERA DAISY BOUQUETS with little cards on picks that say “Thinking of You” to make people smile? NO. I didn’t open this flower shop to be a profitless peony peddler. I opened it be the most POWERFUL NEIGHBORHOOD FLORIST on Main Street.

Here at Barb’s, we think big. We think brutal. We think volume-discounted wholesale gladiola bulbs. When Lily’s Lilies next door gets in the way, we take her out at the roots. We break her at the stem. We deadhead her like a withered pink geranium in mid-summer. That’s right. We gobble up ten of Lily’s employees for lunch and we belch out her cheap 2” desktop cacti as a snack. Got it? Who’s with me? I said, WHO’S WITH ME?

Now, I have a few bones to pick. Which of you buttercups told Mrs. Merriwether last Tuesday that we don’t typically do assorted succulent displays? What part of “all of your everyday flower needs” was did you not understand? If Mrs. Merriwether wants cacti for Monday night pinochle, WE FIND THE CACTUS AND PUSH IT INTO A POT. Capice?

And you, Deb. Did I overhear you tell Mr. Sutherland we were out of red roses at the early-bird event? Do you think Mr. Sutherland could tell a rose from a clown nose if you stuck it on his face and gave it a boop? NO, DEB. The answer is he absolutely could not. The next time someone orders a rose we don’t have, you pull a pansy out of the cooler or you drive yourself to the nearest costume shop and ask for a job. Clear as potting soil? GOOD.

Listen, I don’t hire weaklings who’d be better off planting daisies in some backyard perennial bed. I hire meat grinders. Your job is to wring the competition’s neck, to stuff my bank account like a fig, and TO SOURCE PLANT SPIKES IN BULK.

Who can tell me what drives profit here at Barb’s? I’ll tell you what does. Walk-in traffic does. That’s right. We don’t need standard pick-up orders for Homecoming boutonnieres. We need same-day rush delivery on premium Valentine’s Day arrangements. We need every lowlife scumbag who forgot another anniversary to pop in here in a panic. How do we get him? We hang impeccable spring-hued tulip wreaths on the front door AT EYE-LEVEL.

Some of you might be thinking about what happened with my former employee, Shirley. But you can’t always believe what you see on the news. Did my Shirley break into Lily’s shop to mutilate petunias, smash vases, and shred fourteen spools of periwinkle tulle with her teeth? Did she do it while blaring Enya from her portable Bluetooth speaker? YOU BETTER BELIEVE SHE DID. And then she unwrapped and devoured every miniature Hershey bar from the “please take one” bowl, tied up Lily in natural raffia, and left her there with a carnation duct taped to her face.

Do you think Shirley’s sitting in a minimum-security facility, feeling sorry for herself? Or do you think Shirley did what she had to do to get us a temporary uptick in foot traffic? That’s the loyalty I’m talking about: a dogged determination to pulverize the competition. An appetite for total destruction. An unquenchable thirst to situate orchids just so, in faux moss, surrounded by some big pretty beige accent stones.

I did not hire a squad of dimwits to stand around and tweeze thorns from each other’s thumbs. I hired you: Deb, Patty and Sue. Together, this team is going to win or this team is going to die on the vine trying.

From now on, we’re not talking unless we’re talking profit. Unless we’re talking domination. Unless we’re talking hand-written, personal Happy Valentine’s Day notes.

Go get ‘em, buttercups.