Mother's Day a bright light in difficult spring for florists

When the COVID-19 pandemic closed the doors of Hearts and Flowers in Charlottetown in mid-March, owner Alan Preston had no hope of keeping anything going.

‘That first week I laid everyone off’

P.E.I. is lucky to have a local supplier of tulips, says Hearts and Flowers owner Alan Preston, because there have been issues with other suppliers during the pandemic. (Kevin Yarr/CBC)

When the COVID-19 pandemic closed the doors of Hearts and Flowers in Charlottetown in mid-March, owner Alan Preston had no hope of keeping anything going.

"I really thought that we'd be closed down completely," said Preston. "That first week I laid everyone off."

In Summerside, Kelly's Flower Shoppe owner Cindy Robichaud said she felt the same way.

"Who knew anything?" said Robichaud.

"We closed down the first week as well and I laid off the staff. I call forwarded the calls to my cell phone."

For a week or two it was quiet. But then, slowly, calls began to come in. They both started doing delivery and curbside pickup. Preston recruited his wife to help, and Robichaud her husband and two teenage daughters.

Last Monday, calls started to come in for Mother's Day orders, more than a week earlier than usual. Kelly's Flower Shoppe is going full out to make the deliveries. Hearts and Flowers has hired back its delivery driver full time, and another staff member part time.

Both Robichaud and Preston have been surprised at the volume of business.

"I think everybody just needs some bright and cheery in their life," said Robichaud.

Business hasn't been close to normal, but it's been surprisingly good, they both said.

Supply has been an issue, but Preston said the availability of local tulips from Vanco has been a godsend.

Alan Preston expects he will reopen his shop on May 22. (Submitted by Alan Preston)

While Mother's Day has been a bright spot, even with the prospect of reopening May 22, the summer — with large weddings cancelled — does not look promising.

Robichaud said she will likely not reopen her shop, and just continue with online and phone orders.

Preston said he expects to open. He will install a Plexiglas shield at the counter, and check with public health about capacity for his store. He does not expect that to be an issue.

He said outside of busy times like Mother's Day, there are rarely more than one or two people in the store.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Island Morning


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