How florists and customers are adapting to Valentine’s Day during the pandemic

The pandemic took a toll on several businesses, including florists. Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest for them but this year things are going to look a lot different. Business at Sherwood Florist in Claremont is still flourishing thanks to help from the local community.

"No graduations, weddings, Quinceaneras," says Juan Delira, who has been in business for 30 years. He managed to keep the employees working and paid, but it hasn’t been easy. They used to do all the graduation gatherings for Claremont Colleges. Most schools are still online, so there are no in-person classes, let alone graduations.

Florists had already been hit hard before the pandemic as most local flower growers pulled out their plants to grow the more profitable marijuana. So most of the flowers have to be imported from as far as Ecuador and Colombia. But that increased prices, which meant the $49 dozen roses quickly turned to $89 and more.

But Sherwood Florist adapted to the pandemic, updating their website and phone ordering capacity. People still come in wearing masks and keep their distance, but the in-person traffic has gone down by as much as 40%.  With no gatherings, weddings, parties, business has taken a tumble and is barely beginning to come back.

In a bittersweet irony, it’s the recent increase in funerals, from COVID-19 fatalities, that has kept some florists going. Sympathy bouquet orders come in, even if funerals can’t have more than a dozen or so people in attendance. 

All they can do is hope that happier celebrations soon takeover their work, but for now they are grateful. What they lack in cash, they have in support from customers and neighbors. People showed up with food knowing how busy the store gets today: taking orders, arranging flowers and making deliveries.

Some were here for Valentine’s Day but one lady was getting flowers for her 105-year-old mother who is at a health care facility. Another man was getting a bright yellow and purple bouquet for his daughter who just got out of the hospital.

There is always a reason to give flowers and be grateful.

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