LA eases restrictions allowing florists to reopen in time for Mother’s Day


Sloane Bozzi

Shopping begins early Saturday morning at the reopened flower shops in Downtown Los Angeles.

Sloane Bozzi, Assistant Campus Editor

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has allowed wholesale flower businesses to open to the public on Friday, as Mother’s Day is an opportunity to make up for business lost during the pandemic.

Florists and other specialty retailers are allowed to reopen with curbside pickup options, as outlined in Los Angeles’ “Safer at Home” order revised on May 7.

The authorization followed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement of phase two of re-opening California’s economy. In a press conference on May 4, Newsom explained the first businesses to re-open would be florists, bookstores, toy stores and sporting goods stores.

“If the guidelines are met and modifications are made, then people can start reopening with those modifications in these particular sectors as early as Friday,” Newsom said.

On May 7, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, Dr. Mark Ghaly, outlined regional variance criteria for counties to move into the second phase of reopening.

The seemingly impossible requirement for LA County to meet is that there must be no more than one case per 10,000 residents. In addition, a county must have no recent COVID-19 deaths for 14 days before the county’s submission for readiness attestation to CDPH.

In an update on May 5, Garcetti explained how fragile the city’s public health is, and explained a different approach for LA. The county has over 31,000 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Saturday afternoon.

“It’s important that when we hear the governor, know that he isn’t talking to us exactly the same way,” Garcetti said. “He’s brought together a framework that then requires us to do the hard work here, to determine what’s right for Los Angeles.”

Despite the cautious approach, LA County now considers wholesale florists part of the agricultural sector, and part of essential business. This puts wholesale flower shops at the same level as grocery stores, meaning customers must follow social distancing rules and wear face masks.

In Downtown LA, the Original Los Angeles Flower Market began opening its doors this weekend to fulfill wholesale orders. The Flower Market’s Instagram post outlined its own safety precautions, and noted it will not open to the general public just yet.

Shoppers began arriving at the Flower Market as early as 6 a.m. on Saturday morning. Some retailers were already selling to the general public, despite previously outlined measures.

Against the social distancing orders, many customers brushed shoulders down narrow sidewalks carrying their flowers. Customers and employees wore face masks, while signs in the shops enforced public health regulations.

Smaller family florist shops are not at the same level as wholesalers, but thanks to the ease of restrictions, customers may support small businesses through curbside pickup options.

Flower shops in the San Fernando Valley continue to work hard to fulfill Mother’s Day orders. The phones at Village Florist in Granada Hills have been ringing off the hook all week, and store spokesperson Kellee Everts has been helping the shop fulfill the orders.

“We have found that many many people this year have started earlier than usual thinking about Mother’s Day, so we have been swamped the entire week,” Everts said.

The additional Village Florist location in Chatsworth is currently closed, and their website states that pickup orders are only available at the Granada Hills location.

“We’ve had limited staffing and we’ve been inundated with orders,” said Everts. “It’s unlike any other year. This is one of the biggest holidays in the flower business.”

The store has changed its operation from a focus on in-person shopping experience to a focus on fulfilling online and phone orders from the back door of their shop.

Village Florist’s staff did not realize how their delivery methods would change with social distancing. To stay six feet away, delivery drivers now have to call the recipient. This takes the surprise element out of knocking on someone’s door to hand over surprise flowers.

“The last thing the person purchasing the gift wants to do is take the surprise element out of it,” said Everts. “If it’s a beautiful bouquet being delivered and they want to surprise the recipient, but it’s a little challenging now. A lot of customers have been put off by that, but that’s not something we can control.”

“The industry as a whole has been challenged by getting flowers,” said Everts. “With distributors being down, we’ve had to change our way of sourcing flowers and going straight to the source, which we’ve never had to do.”

“In some ways it’s been a really great learning experience, but in other ways it’s been that much more time consuming and challenging.”