Business growing for florists in Winnipeg during pandemic

WINNIPEG — COVID-19 has impacted the bottom line of many businesses in Winnipeg, but some florists say sales have been blooming since the pandemic started.

Owner of Osborne Florist, Oriana Marinelli, said when COVID-19 first hit in March of 2020 she let go of all her staff, but her sales weren’t wilting. They were growing.

“My staff slowly returned back in May, and it’s been constantly getting busier and busier, and I believe that’s happening all over the city,” she said.

Marinelli said 2020 was of the busiest years she’s had since taking ownership of the store 20 years ago.

Now her biggest problem is getting flowers into the shop.

“The growers, the actual people who grow the flowers, are having problems because there’s so much demand,” said Marinelli

Marinelli said the uptick in sales has been a surprise to all the florists in the city.

Owner of Lakewood Florist and Gifts, Jon Halldorsson, said his shop had been bringing in less and less business every year, but the pandemic changed that.

“When COVID came around, it sort of helped the business because people started buying locally,” said Halldorsson. “[Before the pandemic] they’d been buying from Safeways and Costcos.”

Halldorsson said even traditionally busy times of the year like Mother’s Day and Christmas exceeded normal sales.

Jonathan Alward, director of the Prairie Region for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said Manitobans have been making a conscious effort to shop local and small businesses are set up better for curb side pickup than big box stores.

“I think those are some of the reasons why florists might be doing better, certainly glad to see it, but a lot of businesses aren’t fortunate enough to be in that same position,” he said.

Alward said only 7 per cent of small businesses in Manitoba are seeing an uptick in revenue during COVID-19, and more than 70 per cent have seen a decline.

Marinelli at Osborne Florist believes the shop local trend will continue long after COVID-19 is over.

“I think that movement will still be here, and you’ll almost feel a revitalization, not only for the flower industry, but I think for a lot of the small businesses that are around,” she said.

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