Sales aren’t blooming: Florists adjust during pandemic

All florists in Delaware are operating delivery-only during the COVID-19 pandemic. Customers are encouraged to order as early as possible for Mother’s Day flowers due to limited inventory. Courtesy of Jen-Mor Florist

DOVER — The COVID-19 pandemic could not have come at a worse time for local florists.

They have taken a hit for three of the biggest flower days of the year — Easter, Secretary Appreciation Day and Mother’s Day. Weddings and proms have also been canceled.

Florists were declared essential in Gov. John Carney’s state of emergency order, but only operating via delivery. This means showrooms are closed and service is done entirely online or over the phone.

With the May 10 Mother’s Day rush starting this week, Gina Fries, one of the co-owners of Jen-Mor Florist in Dover, recommended anyone who wants flowers order as soon as possible due to low inventory.

Mrs. Fries said she was pleasantly surprised florists were allowed to be open in some capacity by the governor’s order.

“We’re really glad he kept it,” Mrs. Fries said. “And it’s even better it is delivery only because that makes it much safer for everyone. People do need to keep in mind they can’t come in and pick something out.”

Jen-Mor has been open since the pandemic started, using contact-free delivery.

Bobola Farms and Florist in Dover closed on March 24 and planned to reopen May 15. But it begins service again today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be open this week leading up to Mother’s Day.

Like other florists, Bobola Farms isn’t working with a full inventory and is taking phone orders.

“Everything is limited,” said owner Maria Bobola. “I certainly won’t be able to do what we would normally do. I just wanted to get open and salvage the flowers we do have.”

Ms. Bobola said she had to shut down the florist because wholesalers where Bobola Farms receives flowers from in New Jersey and Pennsylvania were closed. Bobola Farms will begin selling some produce in the upcoming weeks; first up are strawberries, which have started to bloom.

Bobola Farms has been open since the late 1990s and Ms. Bobola said she never experienced anything like this. She hopes Mother’s Day can help bring back some normalcy but reminded that everything is limited.

“It’s the longest we’ve ever been closed,” Ms. Bobola said. “You’ve got to get started somewhere, so we’re just going to do the best we can. I hope people will be patient. We’ll do everything we can to be as close to normal but there will be substitutions. I hope people understand this isn’t easy but we’ll work with them.”

Florists are following all protocols recommend by the Centers for Disease Control to help limit the spread of COVID-19. This includes wiping down all vases, wearing gloves while handling flowers and disinfecting the store every night.

It also includes contact-free delivery, where the driver will call the customer when the flowers are on the steps of their home.

Mrs. Fries said Jen-Mor had to lay off part of its staff when the pandemic first began. She added it has been able to slowly bring back some of the staff.

The loss of workers has made the busy weeks even more stressful.

“It’s been exhausting,” Mrs. Fries said. “The few of us that are here are doing the work of more people. There’s only so much we can do with this staff so our inventory is smaller than usual.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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