You might not be able to get flowers for Valentine's Day in Toronto
Florists are struggling to get flowers this year as the pandemic jeopardizes supply, which means getting a bouquet for your bae might be harder than normal come Valentine's Day.
"It's hard to get anything," Shannon Whelan, owner of Euclid Farms, told blogTO. "I'm so used to being able to guarantee things but now I'm up at night worried what I can do. I'm terrified of disappointing a customer."
Her comment comes after the owner of flower shop Sweetpea's refused to participate in Valentine's Day this year, calling it "physically, mentally and emotionally draining."
As Whelan and Rose Emporium owner Isa Montagnese explained to blogTO, their usual import sources for fresh flowers from South America and the U.S. have been disrupted because of the pandemic.
"At the very beginning of the pandemic - all of April – I had no roses. I had none. It was totally surreal. For the first time ever this store was everything but roses," said Montagnese.
And while things have gotten better since the borders reopened there are still a lot of supply issues because farms and greenhouses are operating at half capacity to avoid COVID outbreaks. The result is a lot of inconsistency with products.
"The quality hasn't been the same as expected," said Whelan.
"My Valentine's Day order is a mystery until it gets here," added Montagnese, who has frequently gotten orders that are missing flowers because growers simply didn't have the supply.
Some shops have managed to avoid this issue by buying local, like Wildhood owner Lauren Pincente.
"I exclusively buy from the Ontario Flower Growers auction, which is a majority of local farmers bringing their product to market. Competition is fierce but the farmers have been working harder than ever and because demand has been so high, I'm finding a lot more availability on the auction," she told blogTO.
"I've definitely had to supplement with imports because the winter months are a bit harder to find local product in Ontario but I don't rely on them so heavily that I've had issues."
But Whelan says even shopping locally doesn't guarantee supply.
"There's a bunch of different issues," she said. "For example, so many people decided to garden this past year that it was harder to get seeds and that affected the availability to grow in the summer and purchase from the growers."
Whelan also mentioned how Brexit meant she could no longer get her favourite seeds from the U.K.
But despite all the difficulties florists are trying to make it work for one of the biggest flower holidays of the year. Most shops have a cut off date for flower orders or have capped their orders to ensure they don't run out. Whelan has also ordered extra to prepare for inevitable supply problems.
"I've ordered so much extra just to be prepared. We might end up losing money because we've ordered so much," she confided.
If you do want flowers for Valentine's Day, Montagnese advises you order early.
"Order as far in advance as you can. Most shops are working with one staff or no staff and things are going to be slower and different for sure," she said.
"We're doing our best. The need for fresh flowers is so high right now. The need for a little pick me up and the need to see something fresh and vibrant and alive really helps with mental health. We're just trying to bring joy, " added Whelan.
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