The Nassau Florist outlines challenges during lockdowns

While not yet back in full bloom since lockdown measures were eased one week ago, The Nassau Florist is grateful for the little business that has kept employees working part-time.

The company’s owner Jim Whitehead told Guardian Business that he never thought the government’s emergency measures brought on by the COVID-19 crisis would last so long, but he is hopeful that his business will pick up in the last quarter of the year.

Whitehead said September is a typically slow month for flowers, but the occasional birthday, funeral and wedding have kept his staff of seven working during the pandemic.

“I have people working two days or working three days, just so everybody has a little bit to get through,” said Whitehead. 

“Maybe by November things will pick up again and it will be okay by Christmas.”

He said last month he experienced an 80 percent decline in sales and was forced to trash a supply of flowers ordered just before the competent authority placed the country on another lockdown. 

Whitehead said his March order of flowers, which was a “huge shipment”, met a similar fate. But during those early months he had a financial cushion to continue on. 

“Nobody thought it would go on this long,” said Whitehead.

“I figured maybe we could get through to July, so I was paying the staff 80 percent of their wages.

“I had the money at the time to pay my rent and my suppliers and all of that. 

“We carried on. It wasn’t too bad actually. But then in August, when we had the shutdown almost the whole month…that was a disaster.” 

Whitehead said since March he has converted his monthly standing order of flowers with his suppliers to a week-by-week order in order to avoid having to throw away stock should another lockdown happen suddenly.

“I can’t afford to waste again,” he said.

Whitehead said The Nassau Florist is taking online and phone orders, as well as marketing through social media channels.

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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