ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Labor shortages, increased demand, and rescheduled events have all helped contribute to the nation’s latest shortage: flowers for weddings and funerals.
Stateline-area florists say they are in the weeds as inventory is running low for fall events.
Michelle Stocker owns Broadway Florist, at 4224 Maray Drive. After shutting down during last year’s COVID-19 lockdowns, Stocker says getting customers to return to her business isn’t the problem: it’s getting the flowers.
“We are very busy. It’s been sort of a great thing for us, lately,” Stocker said. “As far as the flower industry getting in product, as far as flowers and vases, [that] has been a little harder than it used to be. It started with COVID. A lot of the farms were shut down at the point when they started growing, where they would’ve been planting for some of the high end seasons. And, when we got back, [they had problems] finding workers and stuff.”
Stocker said getting inventory has been a challenge when her shop needs to fill orders for weddings and funerals.
“Somebody comes in [at the last minute] and wants 50 roses and it’s Thursday, and they want it by Friday and Saturday,” she said. “Where, sometimes, we would have been able to fulfill that a little easier, it’s trickier to do so in that large scale, last minute things.”
Broadway Florist employee Barb Rizzo said she encourages orders to be placed as early as possible.
“We tell them [to give us] two choices, because maybe we can’t get the first choice that you’re looking for, so you can give us a couple of choices,” Rizzo said.
Stocker says she’s grateful for the business, nonetheless.
“It’s been a crazy, wonderful experience in the last year. It’s been busy. Next year is looking forward to the same, so we’re just here living through it and it’s been fun, but busy,” she said.
According to the International Flower Trade Association, one third of floral farms nationwide were shut down due to the pandemic.