Nova Scotia

'We have not stopped': N.S. florists busier than ever despite COVID-19 restrictions

While many local businesses are struggling to stay open in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, florists appear to be flourishing.

Flower shops struggling to keep up with demand for sympathy bouquets, Mother's Day orders

Penny Taylor designs a bouquet at the Blossom Shops location in Bedford. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

While many local businesses are struggling to stay open in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, florists appear to be flourishing.

Though customers may not be able to walk into a shop and smell the roses, a bouquet is a call or click away.

Penny Taylor, the owner of Blossom Shops, was sure it was just a matter of time before she went out of business after COVID-19 restrictions were put in place.

She laid off all but three of her employees.

"Two weeks in, we were finding it was getting busier and busier, and we were getting exhausted," she said.

She hired them all back.

All five Blossom Shops locations are offering curbside pickup and delivery. (Brooklyn Currie/CBC)

The business has five locations in Nova Scotia from Windsor to Lower Sackville. Employees are spread among them and able to practise physical distancing at work, Taylor said.

Most locations are doing online orders and curbside pickup, and Taylor said their online order traffic has almost doubled.

"We have not stopped since we brought everybody back," she said.

The province has experienced a mass shooting and the fatal crash of a military helicopter involving Nova Scotians in recent weeks. Taylor said those events have prompted orders from outside the province as people show support.

"That was really heartwarming," she said. "It wasn't because they were related to someone, they just knew that everyone was grieving here."

Taylor said she and her employees are preparing more than 400 of these Mother's Day vases in preparation for the holiday. (Brooklyn Currie/CBC)

For Korayne Romanchuk, the owner of KoKo Mod Floral Design in Dartmouth, it's a one-woman operation.

Her business has increased in the weeks since the start of the pandemic, which she credits to people wanting to reach out more to loved ones. But she said she's wary of calling it a good thing.

"In terms of circumstances, it's awkward to say that," Romanchuk said.

Korayne Romanchuk opened KoKo Mod Floral Design in 2016. (Claire Fraser)

She had been considering hiring someone to help out, but her shop is too small for physical distancing. Her storefront is closed for now and she's moved from a delivery service to delivering everything herself.

When it comes to writing the cards for each recipient, especially sympathy cards in the wake of the mass shooting and helicopter crash, Romanchuk said it can sometimes get "emotionally overwhelming."

"It's a very special, sweet time to be a part of people reaching out to one another," she said.

Supply shortages

When it comes to getting supply to flower shops, Romanchuk said there was a "huge gap."

Many imported products were unavailable. In Ontario, non-essential businesses were instructed to close and other provinces had their own restrictions.

Romanchuk said while things have not returned to normal, some operations are starting to come back on a smaller scale.

Taylor said fresh P.E.I. tulips are a big seller, but they're in short supply in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Brooklyn Currie/CBC)

Both Taylor and Romanchuk said their customers are putting emphasis on supporting local during the pandemic.

With her Dartmouth storefront closed, Romanchuk said she's had orders from some regular customers who often come in to browse but not necessarily purchase.

"I can really see that there are some that are really trying hard to support me and keep me in business," she said. "And people are saying on the other end that it makes them feel that sense of normality ... it tricks their brain into thinking things are normal, things are fine."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brooklyn Currie is a reporter and producer with CBC Nova Scotia. Get in touch with her on Twitter @brooklyncbc or by email at brooklyn.currie@cbc.ca

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