In 1968, two flower auctions joined together to form the Aalsmeer Flower Auction. The building in which the auction is held has expanded to over 846,000 square meters. It is a grower's cooperative with over 3,500 member companies. Most of the flowers come from the Netherlands but some also come from Israel, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia and other foreign countries.

The timing clock at the Aalsmeer flower auctions. As the time on the clock declines from 100, so does the price of the item. The first person to bid, gets the item at that price. If you wait too long hoping for a lower price, you might get shut out if others are willing to pay a higher price.

The auction house is huge, about the size of 9 football fields under one roof. The carts of plant material are hooked together and pulled through the auction area where it is displayed to the bidders one cart at a time.

Here, a train of carts of flowers destined for floral arrangements ready to be run through the auction area.

Each cart consists of a number of containers. In this case, there are 24 containers of hosta leaves. During the auction, the winning bidder may choose to take them all or as little as 1 of the containers.

If the first bidder does not want the entire cart, the remaining containers are then put up for bid. The next winning bidder may take all of the remaining containers or some portion of them. This continues until all containers on the cart are sold.

After the contents of a cart are sold, the individual containers are split off and placed on other carts according to who purchased them. If, for example,  Smith Florist bought two containers of hosta leaves, they would be placed on the Smith carts.

At the end of the auction day, the trains of carts are taken to the nearby airport where the plant material is loaded onto planes to their ultimate destination all over the world.

Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer
Legmeerdijk 313
1430 BA AALSMEER
Netherlands

Ever wonder where those flowers came from that are delivered to your loved ones? Many of them are shipped to Aalsmeer, Holland, auctioned off and loaded on an airplane for shipment to your florist in the U.S. The volume of plant material and the efficiency of its handling are amazing as millions of dollars worth of goods pass through the auction at each session.

Every unit of plant material is sold in a classic "Dutch auction." A clock is started and as the time elapses, the asking price declines. The first buyer to bid gets the plants or cut flowers at that price.

So, if you wanted to pay $10.00 for a certain group of flowers but everyone else was willing to bid at $10.50, you might get left out. If you really needed those flowers to fill an order, you would have to decide whether to go higher and lose your profits. Or, you could stick to your price and run the risk that all the flowers would be sold at a higher price. No wonder the bidders were well supplied with antacids.

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