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A Day In The Life Of An LA Flower Vendor

Three Latina women stand behind a row of pink and white tulips and roses in clear glass vases
Two sisters, Cathy and Elvia (center and right), and their cousin Edna (left) sell flower arrangements at their stand on Venice and La Brea.
(Samanta Helou Hernandez
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I hope you had a loving Valentine’s Day yesterday, my friend. For some, it’s a day of romance, steak dinners and chocolates. For others, it’s a hustle and a chance to bring in some good money.

The daily hustle for an LA flower vendor

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For street vendors in Los Angeles who sell flowers, Valentine’s Day is the most lucrative time of the year. Followed closely, of course, by Mother’s Day. Sure, there is the cost of materials, which always go up this time of year (the wholesale price of roses, for example, almost triples to $80 for two dozen). But still, a profit can be made.

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In Koreatown, Lilia Lopez set up shop in a busy pedestrian corridor: Vermont and 3rd Street. She's been selling in this very same spot for 23 years, and noted she has three city permits to be able to do this. She sells goods all year round but only peddles flowers and teddy bears during the holidays.

“I don't make a lot of money, but yes I can pay my bills, pay my car and pay for my necessities, “ Lilia told us in Spanish. “Now with Valentine's or Mother's Day I can save a bit for whatever I might need.”

Vendors start their day at 5 a.m. at the Flower Market downtown so that by the time they're set up on the sidewalk, the roses, lilies and tulips have just started to open. Often it is a family affair with multiple generations helping out: mothers and sons and granddaughters, sisters and cousins.

In the latest episode from the How To LA podcast, my colleague Brian De Los Santos hangs out with Lilia and other flower sellers throughout L.A. to get a glimpse into a very busy day in their lives. You can listen here to learn about their hustle.

My colleague Samanta Helou Hernandez also took some absolutely gorgeous photos. Check them out here.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

We’re here to help curious Angelenos connect with others, discover the new, navigate the confusing, and even drive some change along the way.

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  • *At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

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Wait... One More Thing

Nazis In Space: A Dark Time In Modern Rocket Science

Theodore von Karman, the first director of Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Archival footage courtesy of M.G. Lord)

The plot thickens on the latest episode of LA Made: Blood Sweat & Rockets, the podcast series all about the wildly fascinating history of how NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (where NASA engages in robotic space exploration) at CalTech in Pasadena came to be. Back in the days, rocket science wasn’t an esteemed subject to actually study. But the Suicide Squad, a bunch of young engineers, chemists and mathematicians dreamed of making aerospace a respected science field.

You can catch up on that history in the last few episodes of the podcast here. Now, let's dive into Episode 10: Operation Paperclip.

We’re going back to the end of World War II, where we’ll find a pursuit of space exploration from the Allies and the Axis military alliances. But podcast host M.G. Lord considers a particular decision to be one of the American government’s biggest deals with the devil: hiring and promoting Nazi aerospace engineers, while pushing away while its own engineers, Suicide Squad members Frank Malina and Tsien Hsue-Shen. Read more about the latest podcast episode here.

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