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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — It’s not the easiest time to be selling flowers, but one local florist has committed himself and his business to bringing people together, even during times of uncertainty and social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When a pandemic is in full bloom, it’s not easy to blossom as a florist.
Jerry Rose owns Hillside Floral located at 2495 E. Fort Union Boulevard in Cottonwood Heights. He said Thursday he had considered closing shop earlier in the week amid the spread of COVID-19.
“Total demand for flowers for us is probably off almost 40 percent,” Rose said.
Traditional revenue sources were drying up as funeral and wedding plans were altered, and parties were practically non-existent.
Rose had always said flowers are “100-percent emotion,” but in recent days, he learned that business decisions sometimes are, too. That’s why his shop was still open on Thursday.
“The thing that’s really risen is all this outreaching to people that are hurting by themselves,” Rose said.
The business owner said flowers are now finding homes under circumstances they never would have before.
“I had a lady that called me just about an hour ago,” Rose said. “She was in the hospital with double pneumonia. She said, ‘thank goodness it’s not coronavirus, but I’d like to send myself some flowers.’”
He said stories like those had been unfolding all day.
“My staff has taken on like a whole different feel for this, like, ‘we’re really helping people,’” Rose said.
Just maintaining supply has been challenge enough. Rose said he is fortunate to have direct connections to growers — including in California — where he said flowers were classified similarly to vegetables.
Deliveries are completed with social distancing standards in mind.
“Well, you know, it’s a risk for everybody,” worker Kathy Parlette said. “I usually wear the mask and the gloves. I try to be safe.”
Parlette said she has been grateful to add color to some otherwise gloomy days.
“It brightens their whole day,” Parlette said. “I mean, who doesn’t love flowers?”
Rose said operating right now isn’t about making a profit, it’s about providing a service.
“I think this is one of the times that is really, really important,” he said.
At a time when coronavirus is driving people apart, Rose said he has found purpose in closing the social distance.
“In the 40 years we’ve been here, there’s never been anything like it,” Rose said. “It’s been fabulous. It’s given us a whole different reason to be here.”