Toronto florist forced to move locations is now asking for help to survive
A Toronto community is rallying around a woman and her business to help raise thousands of dollars after being forced to find a new location.
12-year-old Sweetpea's Floral Studio has been a mainstay on Roncesvalles Avenue but that era is quickly coming to an end as the business is being forced to find a new home.
The shop is known for its beautiful creations and very colourful exterior - but mostly for the community-oriented owner Sara Jameson.
Back in October, she was told by her landlord that the lease on the shop would not be renewed and that she must leave the store by February 1.
Though she and her team tried extremely hard to find a new commercial space that would fit a florist's needs (i.e. coolers and walk-in fridges), it seem impossible to find anything that would work in such a small amount of time.
Jameson had to make the decision to find a short-term solution and instead started looking for short-term leases to house the business.
"It's one thing to budget for one move but now I have to budget for two," she said.
On top of this extremely stressful time, Jameson has had to refinance her home, lost much of her savings due to the last two years and had to take out a "significant loan" in the spring to keep Sweetpea's operating. She and her family are also taking care of their father after a very serious medical diagnosis.
While a short-term lease has been secured, Jameson needs to do renovations to outfit the space with proper equipment. She's also had to hand over the first and last month's rent.
Out of a lack of options, she reluctantly started a GoFundMe campaign asking for help and any possible support.
"I can't survive this move financially. I have gone back and forth on how to make this work, and the sad reality is, I have exhausted my options," read the campaign.
She tells blogTO that it was extremely difficult to publish the fundraiser and ask for help, especially when everybody is dealing with rising costs, inflation and rents.
"For me to go out and ask for help is not easy to do. When I wrote [the fundraiser] I was still very much on the fence," she said.
Just a day after publishing the campaign, the community has come through and raised nearly $12,000.
This money will go to moving out of Roncesvalles, fixing up the short-term lease and any other bumps along the way.
After receiving words of kindness and many donations, Jameson says she is extremely appreciative and overwhelmed with the support of her clients, friends and the Roncy community.
"That first night when I saw the donations I literally just sat in my kitchen and stared off into space, overwhelmed and incredibly grateful," she said.
Now that the lease on the short-term spot is nearly complete (Jameson does not want to comment on the new location until it is 100 per cent official) the work starts to find a forever home.
"My biggest hope is to find something back on Roncesvalles. That's where I belong, that's where I feel at home, it's so important to me," she said.
Comments on the GoFundMe page are flooded with memories of shopping at Sweetpea's and well wishes for better times.
"Thank you Sara for your generosity and numerous community contributions. Thank you for helping to make this space safe and welcoming for us residential tenants. We can't wait for you to return to the neighbourhood," read one.
There is still quite a journey to go but Jameson has the support of the community and hopefully, enough money to finish this saga.
"I'm grateful that we found a spot and grateful that the community came together for us," she said.
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