The days before Mother's Day are always busy for city florists, but they couldn't have predicted the huge volume of orders they'd get this year due to the pandemic.

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The days before Mother's Day are always busy for city florists, but they couldn't have predicted the huge volume of orders they'd get this year due to the pandemic.

Since many people can't see their moms because of physical distancing requirements, there has been a huge spike in the flower delivery business. So much so that some store owners warned customers they wouldn't be able to fill all orders before Mother's Day.

Academy Florist was forced to cut off orders Friday after the work piled up; they began taking orders for Monday and Tuesday, owner Irene Seaman said. Then, the shop decided to push through and surprise those customers with Sunday delivery.

"We’re making some people happy, even though they don’t know it (yet)," she said.

Florists across the city have noted a huge spike in business beyond the usual Mother’s Day rush, and many attribute it to COVID-19 restrictions.

"It’s been kind of crazy here, because people do want to send flowers to their moms, because they can’t see them," Seaman said.

“It’s crazy. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, the previous owner also works here, we’ve had the shop open since ’72, and it’s never been this busy. It’s mindblowing.” ‐ Osborne Florist owner Oriana Marinelli

It hasn’t been easy to fulfil orders, however — social distancing has cut staff to one-third of its normal number, 12-plus-hour days and a much more intense workload.

"I’ve been doing this for 50 years, and in all my 50 years I have not had to say no on Mother’s Day, and it just breaks my heart to have to turn people down because we just can’t handle them all," she said.

Smaller, more inexpensive bouquets are more popular this year because so many people have less money due to job loss.

"We’re doing what we can to help people so they can get flowers into the hands of their moms," she said.

Debra Christophe is the owner and sole employee of Edelweiss Florist, a small shop on Henderson Highway.

"Most of the other times, it’s slow and there’s nothing for anyone else to do here," she said.

There has been a sharp upswing in business this Mother's Day; it's been the busiest since she took ownership of the shop in 2012.

"Nobody can visit their moms, especially ones that are out of province, so they’ll send something to let them know they’re thinking of them," Christophe said. "With this social distancing, you can’t just go and visit a lot of people, so they’re sending them something instead."

The store got fresh stock Friday, and on Saturday, it was out of stock again.

"I have no more time to make all the orders I have lined up for the next two days," Christophe laughed. "It’s just going to be 'enough is enough', I can’t do any more. I’ll be here till probably midnight tonight, there’s lots of orders to fill."

Flowers have a lasting power despite their brief shelf life: "It’s not another ornament you have to dust," she explained.

"It’s a luxury that people don’t usually buy for themselves," Christophe said. "They don’t last forever, like a piece of jewelry. There’s the fragrance… it’s just something you don’t buy for yourself."

Osborne Florist owner Oriana Marinelli laughs when asked just how busy the store has been in the midst of COVID-19. She had laid off all her staff, expecting florists to follow the downward trend of many local businesses, but faced just the opposite.

"I was extremely surprised, because I was probably the busiest I’ve ever been in that time period, and I have to do it all myself," she said. "So I made it through that, and I kept on saying, Mother’s Day is going to be double what we normally do, it’s going to be insane."

Now that Mother’s Day has come, Marinelli said it exceeded even those expectations.

"It’s crazy. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, the previous owner also works here, we’ve had the shop open since ’72, and it’s never been this busy," she said. "It’s mindblowing."

She attributes the boom to COVID-19 restrictions.

"If you think about it, nobody can take their moms out for brunch, supper, dinner, everybody’s afraid to go anywhere, nobody can see each other … so what’s the next best thing? Sending flowers," she said.

Osborne Florist is so swamped with orders that it stopped taking requests. Instead it is only doing florist-designed bouquets, something Marinelli said suits most shoppers.

The work of local florists, Marinelli said, is undervalued, adding a bouquet composed by a person who has "devoted their entire life to making these flowers beautiful" has a power that national chains can’t replicate.

"What you’re doing, it’s not just flowers, it’s emotions that you’re delivering," she said.

"Here’s a beautiful bouquet, I’m letting my mom know that I love her, that I’m thinking about her. I can’t see her, I can’t touch her, I can’t hug her, but I can give her these flowers, and that’s conveying those emotions."

malak.abas@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: malakabas_

Malak Abas

Malak Abas
Reporter

Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.