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Last March, G Page Wholesale Flowers in Manhattan rolled back its shutters with other New York non-essential businesses and left stems wrapped in brown paper on the trail of passers-by.

Over a year later, owner Gary Page is optimistic as he looks forward to more rosy times, even though his flower business sales are about half of what they were before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

People are swarming around his store looking for peonies, buttercups and calla lilies and he believes the pandemic has steered more people into the wilderness. He projects a return to pre-pandemic levels early next year.

“If everyone is comfortable with large indoor gatherings,” he said, in the fall, “we should go and run. Wearing my optimistic hat, maybe early 2022 [that] we are back to 2019 levels. ”

Page, who has worked in the industry since 1984, says the Covid-19 pandemic kept his flower shop closed for three months and it’s the worst crisis his business has ever seen, even harder than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and 2008-9. financial crash. For wholesalers like him, who mostly sell to luxury florists like Miho and Ovando and rely on hospitality events, business looked bleak last year.

He credits the Paycheck Protection Program, the US government’s pandemic relief loans to small businesses, for getting his company through the worst of the pandemic via two installments of $ 168,000 in loans.

His business struggled as costs skyrocketed. The pandemic made it more expensive to transport flowers to the United States, as international flights were mostly stranded on the ground.

Flowers from France and Italy could be sent by road to the Netherlands and then shipped from there, but it was more difficult to bring flowers from Malaysia and Thailand. This led to a surge in transport costs which he had to pass on to his customers.

Gary Page, who has worked in New York’s flower industry since 1984, believes people embraced nature during the pandemic © Mamta Badkar / FT

Still, Page says demand has flourished and more people have enjoyed nature, especially city dwellers who felt stuck inside, and he sees this as a post-pandemic legacy that is growing. will flourish.

“We had the industrial revolution, which took us away from agrarian lands,” he says. “We now have the technological revolution that separates us from what surrounds us.”

He believes the disconnect, which has been accentuated by the pandemic, has led people to spruce up their homes with more plants and flowers which “can create such emotion in people” and have been a counterbalance to the loneliness.

And these purchases in turn have created educated consumers who can distinguish the quality of flowers and make more informed purchases.

“There’s the Wearhouse men’s suit and there’s the Brioni suit,” Page says.

This is the fourth in a series for the blog that explores the effects of the pandemic on people and businesses around the world.


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