It may be time to wake up and smell the roses.
Local florists are suffering from the major impacts of supply chain issues, and the only people that can help them recover are their local customers.
Natalie Elsberry owns the local flower shop “Of the Earth” and has a staff of only eight.
“Truly one of our things is spread love through flowers,” Elsberry said. “And seeing all of the love that is shared and show all the people in other peoples’ lives are super important,”
“Major flower farms across the world were shutting down because you can’t have workers getting sick, and so the flowers would die on the plants, and they would crash whole farms. They would lay off workers… when there was no one to do the work let alone harvest and all the kind of stuff let alone buy flowers”
With poor growing conditions, supply chain issues, and prices increasing, the pandemic set the floral industry up to take a major hit.
Stacy Adams, a professor of Horticulture at UNL, has been tracking the changes in the industry since the pandemic began.
“One of my colleagues sent me a message from the Ecuador times on Jan. 31 they had 20 thousand tons of roses they could not get out of the country because there were no airplanes,” Adams said. “Ecuador is the number one producer globally for roses”
Nearly two years later, prices are continuing to rise across the U.S., and orders are still being delayed or canceled.
Elsberry said, “It was kind of like a hard stop, but not all the way stop because we have to keep the doors open we have to pay rent we have to figure out how to make it work.”
Ahead of holidays like Valentine’s day, prices were even higher.
“Right now for Valentine’s day, it’s 20-30% higher,” Elsberry said. “Last Valentine’s day we had like four boxes that didn’t come for a week… they were dead, of course.”
Farmers started producing less with the lull in weddings and other special events, worker shortages impacted nearly every stage in shipping, and travel bans between nations severely disrupted timelines.
Adams said, “I think, you know, a lot of sectors got some sort of, you know, funding from governments to offset them. But this is one industry where there’s really nobody to protect anyone.”
It is no secret that flowers can’t be grown year-round in Nebraska. Florists rely on farms overseas to produce sought-after flowers, many of which are the most popular in weddings and events, and florists have to make do with whatever arrives.
While the future may still look uncertain, there is one way to make sure these local staples can stay.
“You want to call your local florist order from your local florist and just make sure that money is staying here where it needs to be,” said Elsberry.