Small Businesses During the Pandemic
We are all going to have a story, just like we did after 9/11. “The moment I realized life was going to change, maybe forever.” For me it was late Thursday night, March 19, 2020. A friend texted me and asked me not to share the information with anyone other than family. He heard from two different sources that the federal government was going to lock the country down sometime the next day. My first thought was that I needed to hit the grocery store when it opened because there would probably be a run on it after the announcement was made. My second thought was for our family-owned business, Fantasy Floral. What was going to happen to small businesses during the pandemic?
Of course, there was no national lock down. Eventually each state did lock down, including Virginia. We were more fortunate than some small businesses. We were allowed to stay open in Virginia because we never have more than ten people in the shop. Like for all small businesses during this pandemic, everything has changed as we struggle to survive. So what have we learned, what has changed, and what does the near future look like?
What Have We Learned?
The first thing I learned was just how many family-owned small businesses there are. The first day of the lock down in Virginia, I received a Facebook invitation to a group of small business owners in Northern Virginia. The group was started by a good friend who owns two local restaurants. I was one of the first to join the group, but it quickly swelled to close to eighty members. There were owners of almost every business imaginable–restaurants, yoga studios, dentists, florists, caterers, orthodontists, event planners, wineries, hair salons, chiropractors, physical therapists, breweries–all coming together to offer support and share information.
We all learned just how much our customers love us and want us to survive. The love is palpable. Diners are tipping more. Shoppers are seeking out small businesses in lieu of their normal big box stores. Customers are buying gift cards to keep money coming in. Did you hear the story about the town of Middleburg sending every one of its residents gift cards to local businesses? It’s heartwarming to see, and I’ve had more than a few happy tearful moments.
What Has Changed?
For Fantasy Floral, we are leaner, and that’s a good thing! We used to waste a lot of time and resources fulfilling small orders. There is absolutely nothing wrong with small orders, but you can get really cute, inexpensive arrangements at your local grocery store. Our specialty is the talent of our amazing designers and the quality of the flowers that we bring into the shop. Once we were operating on a skeleton crew of just Trevor (designing) and me (managing and delivering), we physically couldn’t make the same number of arrangements as before. Out of necessity, we increased the minimum price on arrangements for delivery.
In doing that, we found our floral voice. It’s exciting! While each arrangement is creatively different, there is a quality to them that has become uniquely ours over the last couple of months. We created our niche. Sometimes I get phone calls from people that we aren’t able to help, but that is another thing that has changed. We are comfortable not being all things to all people. We will focus on our signature style that is unique to us and do that very well!
What Does the Near Future Look Like?
Like the Masked Marauder! That line probably dates me, eh?
Except for Mother’s Day, the only people we have working in the shop are family members. This means if one of us comes down with the virus, all of us have to self-quarantine, and the shop will close during that time. Because of this, we are requesting that our customers wear masks when they come into the shop.
We’ve been doing no-contact deliveries and offering curbside pick-up since the middle of March. We’re learning new protocols for delivering to office buildings as the businesses around us start to open up. There are lots of new restrictions in place, and each business is different. If you are requesting an arrangement to be delivered to a business, please let us know of any special directions we should be aware of.
As of recently, many hospitals no longer accept deliveries of any kind. We always call ahead before we send our driver out, but you might check with your individual hospital before you place an order.
The one thing that hasn’t changed is that we continue to look forward to bringing joy and smiles to people, one vase at a time!