Flowers and plants have continued to grow and bloom, forcing many florists to lose product and revenue since business crashed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working with organic products like flowers comes with a certain level of urgency to make sales before the expiration of the product. Flowers wilt in a short period. Different types of flowers will be in season at specific times of the year. All these factors come into play for florists to have a successful shop.
The coronavirus prompted many restrictions on public gatherings causing florists’ businesses to suffer in its wake. Many funeral visitations, weddings, and other events were cancelled or postponed leaving florists with an abundance of unwanted flowers. Now, business has begun to increase, but the industry has changed to accommodate the continued uneasiness surrounding the virus.
Flowers by Judy
In White House, owner Susan Kessler explained the impact funeral gatherings had on her business. As people were unable to attend funeral visitations or mourn together, the florist’s business declined.
“Funerals are always a big part of (sales),” Kessler said.
At the beginning of the quarantine, Kessler noticed business slowing down which led her to shorten her hours. In the last few weeks, business has finally started to increase as restrictions are lifted on the public.
Kessler has had trouble getting sunflowers in stock which has impacted her day to day sales. Various colored tulips have been hard to come by as well. At this time, she gets whatever looks the best to continue sales, as things continue to slowly return to normal.
Cassie’s Flower Pad
Owner Cassie Groves started her flower shop in Cross Plains a year ago before COVID-19 came to the area. The shop was already struggling when the pandemic hit, causing it to go under completely. Groves now sells flowers out of her farm in Orlinda.
Groves would typically sell flowers for a variety of events including funerals, anniversaries, baby announcements and others. With large gatherings prohibited, Cassie’s Flower Pad suffered major losses.
“(The pandemic) has total killed my funeral work, completely killed it,” Groves said.
When Groves was forced to shut down, she had to throw out numerous flowers. She estimated her loss at around $1,500. Groves was ineligible for any government aid since she was considered the only employee and had such a new business.
“We’ve all suffered,” Groves said. “Everyone, there’s not one florist who hasn’t suffered.”
In the last week, she began to see an increase in everyday sales, though not to the degree of sales before the shutdown. She hopes it will increase as people begin to celebrate together as restrictions are lifted.
“I’m not making a living on it yet that’s for sure, but at least I’m able to do some of the things I like to do best,” Groves said.
The Potted Shed
Denise Arnold, owner of The Potted Shed in Greenbrier, experienced a loss in business at the start of the pandemic like many others in the area. For the first three or four weeks, events were being cancelled or rescheduled leaving Arnold in a type of limbo.
Before the quarantine, Arnold was primarily focusing on events like baby showers, weddings, celebrations of life, funerals and others. Business has since flipped for her with everyday orders taking the lead and events falling behind. With people confined to their homes, Arnold noticed business shifting to no contact deliveries.
“I started getting busy with everyday cuts where I was losing the funeral and wedding business,” Arnold said. “I started gaining everyday cuts with no touch deliveries.”
Customers voiced their concerns at the beginning of the shut down with having items like flowers delivered. Arnold spent time reassuring them she was not sick, and all supplies had been kept in the store away for anyone else. Over time, people have become more comfortable with the “new normal” of handling business.
Arnold explains her customers have been very supportive during this difficult time. Many people will order flowers as a “designer choice” allowing her to use whatever flowers were available at that time and not loss supplies.
“My cliental has made doing my job easy because they’ve not requested certain things I couldn’t get,” Arnold said. “They worked with what I had in stock, so therefore I quit losing money and quit throwing stuff away. The customers have been very understanding.”
Arnold’s main losses have come from funerals and unique supplies purchased for events that ending up being cancelled. She was forced to throw up at least $300 worth of flowers at the start of the quarantine. Arnold has over $1,000 in supplies that may never be used.
“Financially, in the funerals, I can’t even tell you how many hundreds of dollars I lost,” Arnold said.
At one point, Arnold chose to return flowers to the wholesaler to attempt to sell them for her so they wouldn’t have to be thrown out. Suppliers were able to work with the florists to best mitigate losses for everyone.
She has had to make many adjustments to her business to continue sales. She knows she may not be able to do exactly what customers want, so she has must have a backup plan or other suggestion for gifts.
“For me to get the sale, I’m having to think outside the box,” Arnold said.
Recently, she has received at least one to two cuts or deliveries a day. She felt blessed to have to the opportunity to continue working during this time despite some of her losses.
“I feel like (God) has watched over me and my family and been with me through all of this,” Arnold said. “I feel so blessed… I still look at what it could have been, how this could have went. I could have been sitting here for all this time with nothing to do, so what little bit I’ve done I’ve been very proud of and very blessed to get.”