We have recently marked the one year anniversary of our two-week lock down in Manitoba ... and here we are, still in full blown pandemic mode. This can feel disheartening at first but, honestly, things are improving.
Here at Academy Florist, we are grateful every day for our dedicated team of artists and professionals. We are grateful for their flexibility and creative problem solving as we have had to continually adjust to the ebb and flow of provincial health orders. But mostly we are grateful for our loyal and lovely customers who have continued to support us throughout all of the changes of the past year. You have given us a gift that many in our industry, unfortunately, have not received.
These past 14 months has been very difficult for the global flower industry. It has been a perfect storm that has set off a chain reaction of events that has left many businesses devastated. Many growers and shops have had to close their doors. Thankfully, 40 years in and we are still going strong - but that doesn't mean we are unaffected by the pandemic.
Aside from adjusting to ever-changing public health orders, the most notable difference in our day to day operations is our fluctuating flower inventory. Over the past year, it has been increasingly difficult to source the quantities of our favourite blooms that we are used to. Finding specialty flowers has been especially difficult during certain seasons.
Several things have occurred over the last year and a half that has led to this global flower shortage. The pandemic caused a sharp drop in flower demand last spring. This led to many family-owned farms to go out of business as much of their stock sat unused in the fields which led to a shortage of cash flow to pay employees and upkeep the farm.
These farms were fixtures in the flower industry for years and now all of their former customers are looking for new suppliers which puts more demand on the remaining growers. The farms that were able to stay operational cut their staff to bare minimum and planted a significantly smaller crop in an effort to stay afloat. This added to the shortage product we all experienced this spring.
Last spring, growers in other areas experienced a stretch of bad weather which put a further strain on the supply. South American farmers have faced back-to-back seasons of cooler and wetter weather than is normal. This made crop yields smaller than average. As farmers, they are used to good years and bad years but the pandemic has made recovery after a bad couple of seasons more difficult.
Another difficulty we've faced in the industry is issues with transport. Our flowers come to us by sea, ground and air - depending on the country of origin. Travel restrictions have resulted in fewer flights globally. This has impacted the availability of 'out of season' flowers greatly.
I know this all sounds dire but the good news is we can still get flowers. Local growers have actually been doing pretty well during this time. They have been creative and willing to go the extra mile to help out stores like ours. Our buyer is also creative and diligent in sourcing the freshest product for our customers. Prices and availability of some product has changed but we are working hard to stay your favourite floral stop in The Peg.
We just ask, that during this time, you remain flexible and trust our designers to create beautiful bouquets and arrangements for you - just as we've always done. If there is something in particular you are looking for the earlier you place your order the better. For weddings and special events, we recommend that you place your order at least six weeks in advance, if you can.
But, most of all, know that we appreciate you and we value your business. Thanks for sticking with us for the long haul. Your faith in us has been a gift.
Thank you. Truly.
Journal entry written by Academy Florist team member Nichole Forbes