Ottawa

Online sales coming up roses for local flower shops

Some Ottawa florists say they're managing through the pandemic by adapting their businesses to the demand for delivery and curbside pickup.

Florists adapting to pandemic by offering delivery, curbside pickup

Some local florists see business boom as online sales take off

CBC News Ottawa

1 year ago
2:02
Ottawa florists say demand for flowers and plants is high, though it’s sometimes been a challenge to adapt to physical distancing measures. Vanessa Bishop, Elizabeth Young and Marlon Oneid spoke to the CBC’s Sandra Abma. 2:02

When Elizabeth Young's floral emporium on Richmond Road was declared a non-essential workplace back in March, she laid off her staff, locked the door and moved her business online.

Things have been coming up roses ever since.

"I found out that I was able to run off of e-commerce." said Young, owner of Flowers Talk Tivoli. "I was able to take orders over the phone and off my website."

We're sold out of flowers for Mother's Day. I've maxed out.- Elizabeth Young, Flowers Talk Tivoli

Not only did Young keep her loyal customers by offering curbside pickup, she also found new ones through Instagram and Facebook. Now, with Mother's Day fast approaching, she's even brought back some of her employees to help with the rush.

"We're sold out of flowers for Mother's Day. I've maxed out."

Elizabeth Young says business is blooming at her Richmond Road shop, Flowers Talk Tivoli. (Frances Ferland/CBC)

Young said the pandemic has resulted in an unexpected boom for many local florists, as people who can't visit loved ones in person are sending a bouquet instead. 

"I feel like we're a lifeline for people," Young said.

Online sales picking up the slack

At the family-owned Beaudry Flowers at Ottawa's Trainyards, they've also had to adapt their business to the times, offering a drive-thru flower stand and bringing in a tractor-trailer to store orders.

As they rush to fill orders, Marlon Oneid said the shop has taken great pains to make sure employees keep a safe distance from one another.

Longstanding contracts with local funeral homes have helped anchor the 30-year-old business, but online sales have been booming since the pandemic struck.

"Our online business has grown by 1,000 per cent," Oneid said. "Our online sales are picking up the slack for retail pickup, so we're going to have the same level of work."

At Wild Willy's Plants & Flowers in Wellington Village,  owner Vanessa Bishop is working overtime to fill orders.

Bishop was also forced to lay off most of her staff when the store closed, but loyal customers have kept the shop afloat with orders for curbside pickup. She and her partner work to fill those orders during the day while another employee takes over the night shift.

Vanessa Bishop says even with her loyal customers and curbside pickup, Mother's Day sales at Wild Willy's Plants & Flowers are down about 30 per cent this year. (Frances Ferland/CBC)

Despite their hard work, Bishop expects sales to dip by at least 30 per cent this Mother's Day compared to last, largely due to the loss of those all-important last-minute shoppers.

"I'll usually have at least 100 walk-ins, which I'm not going to have this year," she said. 

Now that garden centres have been allowed to welcome back customers, Bishop said she's looking for clearer direction from the city and province about when she can do the same.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sandra Abma

Journalist

Sandra Abma is a veteran CBC arts journalist. If you have an event or idea you want to share, please do at sandra.abma@cbc.ca.

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