Florists adjusting to meet consumer demand Mother’s Day weekend

Posted on: May 8th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

studioportosabbia/iStockBy ERIC MOLLO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) – Spring is a busy time of year for the floral industry with proms, weddings, and other ceremonies and events, all of which lead to huge demand for florists and flower shops.

Small flower businesses have been dealt a blow with cancellations as a result of the coronavirus, but with Mother’s Day weekend here, demand is once again blooming. Those businesses are experimenting with new ways to make money while working with a limited staff.

Luke Franco operates Tiny Hearts Farm with his wife Jenny Elliot in Copake, New York. He tells ABC News’ “Perspective” podcast that within seven-to-ten days, he and his wife had to furlough their small staff and did not know how to continue operating.

“Everything started to fall like dominoes. We did a big plant sale and we had to cancel that. We did some sort of open air markets that were just canceled outright. I don’t know how to say… it was pretty unnerving. At the time, we went through a little bit of a dark period where we just said, “Oh my God!”

Luke says his farm is adjusting to meet consumer demand:

“We were able to pivot pretty fast and were able to open up an online Dahlia tube shop. We’ve been able to do curbside pickup off the farm and also there’s been a lot of interest in our CSA, which is basically a subscription-based service where customers pay for a certain number of weeks of flowers upfront, and then as the harvests begin to come in, they pick up once a week.”

Marek Fortineaux owns Leo’s Metropolitan Florist in Chicago, which was closed for a month. He tells ABC customers won’t be allowed inside the shop this weekend, but they will get flowers to all those consumers with online and phone orders, curbside pickup, and delivery:

“It’s a lot of uncertainty. We can’t take them [mothers] out to eat. This year, you know, we can’t go to church with them. This is the best way to say, you know, I love you.”

Kate Penn is the CEO of the Society of American Florists, and she told ABC that farmers and florists are taking precautions to make sure their bouquets are safe to deliver to friends and family.  

“They’re making sure that designers have their own sets of tools and that they aren’t sharing their tools. They’re not connecting with the person who’s receiving the flowers. They’re calling them ahead. They’re saying, ‘I’m coming by and leaving these on your doorstep.'”

The increase in sales this Mother’s Day weekend isn’t the only thing keeping these businesses running, according to Franco:

“The community support that we’ve seen has really been something that’s helped us get through it. And we’re feeling very confident together with the community that we can get through this storm.”

Luke says he’s hopeful that farms like Tiny Hearts, flower shops like Leo’s Metropolitan, and others will not only satisfy customers on Mother’s Day, but can provide a source of comfort and happiness as the country battles COVID-19.

“The one surprising thing that I noticed is how many people have told us specifically how dependent they are on getting flowers from us every week. I basically have gotten phone calls and customers in tears just telling me like, ‘Oh my god, you guys sold out and this is making such a difference. Like, I really enjoyed having your flowers and can you do anything for me?’ That was impactful for me and just sort of brought some meaning to what we’re doing.”

Listen to the rest of this past week’s highlights from Perspective here.

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