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November, 01 2017

Pablo Escobar Started LoCoFlo

Tags: So Local

Thatís right. THE Pablo Escobar. And I donít mean some dude with the same name as Pablo Escobar. Not Pablito from down la calle. The real Pablo Escobar from Columbia. The guy Narcos is about. The biggest drug dealer in the world is the reason our little flower shop exists.

I know what youíre thinking: No way. How could he have done this?

Alright, Iíll admit he didnít do it by himself - he got some help from the Bushes - H. W. and W. But, before I tell you how Don Pablo started a small locally grown flower shop in Baltimore 15 years after he died in Medellin, there are a few crazy things you need to know about cut flowers and cocaine.

The cut flower business is a hyper-efficient 100 billion dollar a year world-wide industry. Today, 80% of flowers sold in The United States are grown in other countries! Truth. Almost all of those delicate, dying blooms come from a far off land. They are chemically preserved, packed, and shipped thousands of miles every day. Of all those imported flowers, three quarters come from Columbia.

Q: Why do Americanís buy so many flowers from Columbia?

A: Pablo (and the Georges).

If you havenít seen Narcos on Netflix, you should. Itís pretty awesome. Iím assuming that some of the stuff is dramatized for TV but, Pablo Escobarís life was really incredible. He is most infamous for founding and running the Medellin Cartel which supplied the United States with 80% of all cocaine that came into the country in the 1980ís.

The scope of Pabloís cocaine business was so big he was listed on Forbesí international billionaires list for seven years in a row. He was making so much money he needed to spend $1,000 a week just on rubber bands to bundle cash.

Anyway, the US government wanted to shut the party down. So, as part of the fight to stop Pablo from exporting nearly 100 tons of cocaine each month into the country, Bush 41 enacted the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) in 1991. Bush 43 continued the effort with the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) in 2003.

These acts remove import taxes and promote many commodities, including cut flowers, from Columbia and its neighbors. The ATPT and ATPDEA are intended to replace the cocaine business with legitimate business. Good idea, right? It has been working for some industries. But for cut flowers, the Andean trade acts made imported Columbian flowers way cheaper than American grown flowers. Columbian flowers have flooded the market which has put great pressure on American growers. Remember that 80% imported flower number I told you about, it was only 46% before the ATPA.

Boom! Bolt of lightning! After learning about the proliferation of imported cut flowers and other flowers grown thousands of miles away from Baltimore (Columbia is closer to us than California), Ellen and some partners saw an opportunity. Local Color Flowers only uses flowers grown within 100 miles of the shop.

So that is how Pablo Escobar started LoCoFlo. Would we still be selling locally grown flowers if Pablo never exported cocaine here? Of course! We are friends with our growers. It is the greenest way to sell flowers. And it just makes sense. Shout out to Pablo and George and George for making the story interesting.

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