"We were sort of bridging the gap that people couldn't do in person," said floral designer Cheryl Baker.
Small businesses had to weather a lot to remain open through a global pandemic. Complete closures, restricted customer access, diminishing supply lines, all manner of hurdles to have an opportunity to get back to normal post-COVID-19.
Elana's Broad Street Florist fared better than some in that they were allowed to continue operations throughout the ordeal.
"We were very lucky in the fact that the Delaware governor let us stay open. We were considered essential. I'm assuming it's mainly due to the funeral work that we can put out there," Baker said. "Unfortunately, all of our wholesalers are out of state, and there were times when they were all being shut down and we had no flowers [coming] in so, even though we were able to stay open, and we were getting orders from people, we had no product. So we were trying to think outside the box."
Getting outside that box meant finding unconventional connections--like teaming up with those many would traditionally consider "competitors." In times like those created by COVID-19, partnerships were important for everyone to survive.
"Finding other flower shops who might have some connections with different wholesalers and just trying to find some good quality products, so that we could maintain our sales and our deliveries here," Baker said. "Things would change daily for a couple weeks, with all the restrictions that were changing so quickly. We were able to band together with some of the flower shops that we're in a delivery pool with. We borrowed flowers and greenery from other people, when needed. We had other shops reach out to us as well. And it was nice, that camaraderie. Everybody sort of banded together and just helped each other as much as we could."
Staying open meant being able to continue providing a service Baker said was really important for others to be able to provide emotional support in moments when they couldn't be there in person.
"We were bridging the gap that people couldn't do in person," she said. "So if they couldn't go to a loved one's funeral, they would send flowers; they couldn't get together for a birthday, they would send flowers; anniversaries; sympathy. It was really nice to be there. We were saying that we weren't really sending flowers, we were sending love."
It was more than just a job, Baker said. It was helping people express themselves through a time when options were extremely limited.
"In a way, it was really an honor to have people reach out to us," she said. "So, you know, I had grandparents who just had a baby grandchild born, and they couldn't go visit with the baby or with their daughter who just has a child. So they reached out to us...Just to be able to provide that service was was really huge."
To other small businesses, Baker said keep your chin up.
"You just have to keep pushing on, and get help when you can," she said. "Band together with other businesses, because we're all in this together and we really need each other's support to make things work."