Business is blooming for Island garden centres
Some garden centres on P.E.I. say they're having the busiest spring season in recent memory
Some P.E.I. garden centres say the season is already off to a busy start and the increase in business spurred by the pandemic last year has continued into 2021.
"Incredibly busy, busier than what we've seen, say, on average before COVID," said Peter Meijer, operations manager at VanKampen's Greenhouses.
Meijer said this April was the busiest he's ever seen.
"Everything's about a month early," said Meijer, adding 100-200 people are already coming through the door daily.
"People start coming in the door really fast when spring hits. So we see that climb quickly. But it definitely climbed a little quicker a little earlier this year. So the stuff we would normally be seeing at the start of May, we saw at the start of April."
Meijer said much of the demand is for ready-to plant vegetables — something they ran out of last year. So his team has been busy ensuring there are enough vegetable transplants to meet the demand.
"Things that I know we ran out of last year, we've doubled so that we don't run out of those things as quick," said Meijer.
They are also growing more of certain types of flowers, like geraniums, that were also high in demand and didn't last on the shelves in 2020.
But the supply issues that started in 2020 remain, and garden centres are having trouble sourcing certain seeds and varieties of shrubs and fruit trees.
"We're a little challenged," said Anne Keuper, co-owner of Island Pride Garden Co. "We can't get everything that we're ordering."
Keuper said her team is doing their best to come up with alternate plans for customers, when what they want isn't available to order.
Island Pride's two locations opened at the beginning of May, almost a month sooner than they were able to last year when the province was slowly reopening non-essential businesses and services.
Keuper said it makes a big difference for the customer to actually be able to walk through the garden centre, with physical distancing and mask policies in place.
"It gives them a touch of spring, because there's not a lot of flowers blooming outside," Keuper said.
"Whereas last year, it took more demand from us on the phone, because we were spending more time doing curbside work."