Florists face limited supply with Mother’s Day approaching

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Indianapolis, Ind. – Florists are warning customers that if they plan to order flowers for Mother’s Day, to do so as early as possible.

 Florists nationwide are working with a limited supply within their stores due to the coronavirus pandemic and state shutdowns.

 “I did have concerns coming into the holiday that maybe I wouldn’t have enough product available,” Sarah Gillespie, with Gillespie’s Florists, told CBS4. “And my suppliers informed us that they’re not going to have a lot of extra product to sell on hand either.”

 Suppliers across the world have ended up dumping millions of flowers because no one is purchasing them. Growers in the Netherlands, for example, said they had to toss 400 million tulips. 

 Another issue is that countries are struggling to ship fresh-cut flowers overseas.

 “I recently was reading an email from one of the logistics partners that we have, and they are literally trying to load product, flowers, into airplane seats,” Gillespie said. “So, think of where you would normally seat passengers and where you would normally put your luggage in an overhead bin. They’re filling those with flowers.”

 Gillespie said her shop, along West 10th Street, lost at least 50 percent of their sales when the pandemic hit. Easter was OK, but not great.

 “We’re hanging in there,” she said.

Gillespie flowers typically has 27 employees helping to arrange bouquets. In mid-March, many of the workers asked to be removed from the schedule due to health concerns. Several of them were considered high-risk and others had children to think about at home.

Gillespie Florists has not yet opened their store fronts to customers, but rather, is offering online orders. The florists are willing to Facetime, chat via Facebook or Zoom and arrange the bouquet for you. They can also send a photo of the finished product.

“They can personalize it that way,” Gillespie explained. 

 Gillespie’s is also doing no-contact deliveries. Delivery drivers will leave the arrangement on the porch or in a secure area and text or call the recipient to let them know they have received something special.

 CBS4 talked to several other flower shops in Indianapolis about what they’re doing for Mother’s Day. George Thomas Flowers said they are taking first and second-choice picks from people, just in case they don’t have the specific flower or stems in stock.

 Many locations are selling flower arrangements for Nurse Appreciation Week, too. This will also limit selections, as many hospitals and long-term care facilities are submitting big orders to honor their frontline workers. Nurse Appreciation Week is May 6th-12th.

If customers would rather buy sweets for their mom, Schokolad Chocolate Factory is considered essential and has remained open amid the pandemic. 

 “Unfortunately, month-over-month of April, we’re still down 35-40 percent,” owner Todd Polizotto said. 

While Polizotto is optimistic about his sales going into Mother’s Day weekend, he admits, it will be different this year.

 “Here at the chocolate shop, it’s an experience,” he pointed out. “It starts with walking in the door and just getting hit by that wave of, ‘wow, that’s chocolate.’”

Polizotto said browsing for the perfect Mother’s Day gift is not possible in 2020.

“We’re just not able to give that experience to our customers because they’re being told to stay home,” he explained.

Polizotto told CBS4 he is allowing one customer in the shop at a time. He and any employees that are there plan to wear masks and gloves. All their product is behind the counter or prepackaged.

“You can also go online and check out what we have,” he said. “If you wanted a curbside option, you would call us, place your order and we would run that out to you.”

Schokolad is also offering curbside via online ordering. 

“We have brought back our Valentine’s Day strawberries, which are long-stem strawberries, super big,” Polizotto advertised.

He also showed CBS4 something special they are doing in honor of the COVID-19 crisis. It’s a chocolate covered teddy bear with a facemask.

“This is our Nurse Appreciation Week, memorable Mother’s Day,” he laughed. “We can actually write people’s names on them.”

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