SC Biz News is speaking with small businesses and community leaders about the impact of the new coronavirus on business and industry, and how this is changing how they operate.
Contact Andy Owens, [email protected], with any questions or ideas.
Lisa Holmes remembers when a customer called her store to order flowers for his aunt, who had only a few days left to live. He knew he couldn’t get there in time, but the note he sent with the flowers detailed how excited he was to see her when he got back into town and thanked her for how much she’s taught him.
In times like the present, when family and friends are quarantined and social distancing is mandated, Holmes realizes the impact of Tiger Lily Florist.
“Flowers are taking the place of hugs right now — they’re the next most personal thing you can send,” Holmes said. “My biggest takeaway from this entire pandemic is the kindness and the graciousness and the love. The messages on these cards will give you chills.”
Holmes said it’s been difficult having to close down the downtown Charleston boutique and operate only out of the James Island location. They’ve laid off 22 of 27 employees and lost all of their walk-in traffic.
Although she is uncertain about the future, she said she looks forward to trying to bring back staff when it’s safe to do so.
Despite these new challenges, Holmes said the business’s online ordering service is seeing about five to seven new customers each day.
“People who don’t normally send flowers are sending flowers,” Holmes said. “Handwritten notes have increased, with the basic sentiments that we will all get through this together.”
Though people are no longer gathering in groups, birthdays, anniversaries and funerals are still happening, and people are ordering flowers and cupcakes to send to those they can’t reach, Holmes said.
The business has adapted to changes by adding new products, such as their Toilet Paper Fun bouquet with a roll of toilet paper, Baby Crate baskets for newborns and do-it-yourself kits of loose stems for the recipient to arrange at home.
Although they get orders for a variety of occasions, Holmes said her favorites include orders people send to their grandparents in nursing homes, or flowers that husbands send to their wives from their kids saying thank you for being their new schoolteacher.
Holmes said she expects orders to increase with Easter and Mother’s Day coming up.
“So many people can’t be with the people they want to be with right now,” Holmes said. “So we’ve tried our hardest to battle to stay open because of how emotionally essential florists are right now.”n