sweetpeas valentines toronto

Toronto flower shop is refusing to participate in Valentine's Day this year

Valentine's Day is the biggest day of the year for many flower shops in Toronto, and one florist is refusing to to participate in the holiday for exactly that reason.

Sweetpea's made a post on Instagram on Jan. 25 with a background of red roses and text reading "IMPORTANT Valentine's Day Info, Don't Say We Didn't Warn You."

The caption to the post reads: "This could be our most important floral post of the year. We are refusing to participate in Valentine's Day for 2021. Yup. Read it again, if you need to." A detailed explanation of how that's going to work and why they're doing it follows.

"We saw the initial spike in holiday orders for Thanksgiving as families were told to stay within their own households and were unable to visit each other. Their way to stay connected was with flowers. Most messages were along the lines of 'we are sorry we can't get together this year,'" Sara Jameson of Sweetpea's told blogTO.    

"My team were tired, burnt out, well into overtime and it took several weeks before we felt we returned to normal...I use that term loosely. When the winter holidays arrived, that same rush of orders came in and, instead of scrambling and overloading ourselves, our team discussed it and we cut off orders early."

Sweetpea's will be severely limiting their orders the week of Valentine's Day, and is encouraging customers to order for other days and to get their orders in early.

"As Valentine's grew closer, I felt that dark cloud coming down again.  Personally, I was dreading it. I have been working non-stop since May. I have only had one or two days off since I started the process of reopening. My days are normally 10 to 14 hours long, without a break. I'm tired," says Jameson.

"Looking around, my team is tired. I have always prided myself on being the hardest working person in the room, but at some point, you need to reevaluate if that is really the best thing. I have always said, I would never ask someone to do something I wasn't willing to do myself and, quite frankly, I wasn't willing to take part in the Valentine's rush again."

Sweetpea's had closed from Mar. 21 to June 15, and never let customers back inside to shop after reopening, shifting their focus from gifts and retail to plants and flowers.

"This Monday, as we looked at the February schedule and started to launch our Valentine's collection, I knew it was going to break us. Valentine's is the hardest week of the year, in the best of times. It is physically, mentally and emotionally draining. For a team that is already struggling, I couldn't put them through it again," says Jameson.

"Now, of course, we are still open, curbside and delivery only. We will still have orders coming in and we will still send out Valentine's arrangements. However, we will be doing at least half of our normal Valentine's volume, and significantly less than what we expected due to COVID."

As a result, they had to let their customers know to plan accordingly as soon as possible, and also call suppliers to back out of large orders so they knew they'd have only what they need.

"We will focus on what we do best, providing the quality and service our customers have come to expect, rather than push for volume," says Jameson.

"This year, we are challenging people to make Valentine's a day of their own choosing. Right now, most of us don't know if it's Tuesday or Saturday. So, what does it matter if you celebrate on the 14th, the 10th or the 21st? We have always felt it's important to celebrate your partner year-round. Let's put that to the test this year."

Jameson sees this as an eye-opening experience to reevaluate the pressure we put on ourselves when it comes to both love and business, which can sometimes do more harm than good.

"Pulling back on the reigns has been long overdue, both for my team and for myself. I have always felt that Valentine's did more harm than good in the floral industry. You'll see that sentiment emerging as you read the comments on our social media post, with overwhelming support from other florists," says Jameson.

"It's time to rethink what Valentine's should be, if it should be anything at all. Love doesn't know what day it is on the calendar. Valentine's is not the make or break of a relationship. Enjoy your time together. Be thankful for each other. There is no need to put so much pressure on a single day."

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