Businesses have slowly begun opening, and people are starting to get back to their usual daily routines. For months, the economical situation in the country was struggling due to the rapid spread of the virus. Everyone was asked to stay at home and non-essentials were ordered to close down. CTV News reported that when the closures were announced, some small businesses were unsustainable, resulting in closure or furloughing of their workers.
According to an article by CTV News, the provincial government declared that greenhouses, nurseries, and farmer’s markets were essential services, therefore allowing them to remain open during the quarantine. The article states that the reasoning behind the decision was to keep the supply chain going and ensure the mental well-being of Albertans.
This logic makes sense, especially when the weather improved and people needed activities to do with all their free time when normal socialization isn’t an option.
There are a couple of plant shops in Edmonton that have been hard at work trying to find ways to fulfill their customers’ needs and sustain their businesses. “It is not easy for the plant community. Because more people are staying home, and working from home; they feel the need to add plants and greenery to their home,” says Hong Nguyen, manager at Botaniful. It is a way to bring the outside world into their home, she says.
“Ever since the pandemic started, I have been compelled to go to the plant shop or browse their catalog online for plants to buy,” says Kausalya Gopal, a plant enthusiast in Edmonton who has been buying way more plants during the pandemic than ever before.
The pandemic has brought many to their knees. According to an article by the Financial Post, the financial situation of the province is about to hit an all-time low, and small businesses are going to be heavily impacted. “Economists forecast a harsh recession this year across Canada, but the dual-threat of coronavirus-related business closures and the oil-price war will hit Alberta much harder, with the impact going well beyond the corporate offices of the oilpatch,” the article states.
Despite the economic downfall, uniquely enough, the plant business in Edmonton has been seen to prosper during the pandemic. “The demand for plants has increased. Plants make people happy,” says Nguyen. Botaniful is located on the north side of Edmonton. She notes that plant stocks have been selling out fast, causing them to order from various suppliers to meet customers’ needs. “Despite being closed for walk-ins, Botaniful has strived to ensure that they deliver in a business perspective by providing curbside pickups for any online orders,” says Nguyen.
“It has been busy during the pandemic,” says Amy Gainer owner of Plantasia, a home-based business that also has been seeing an increase in business since the pandemic.
Some people are very passionate over plants as they see it as a way of releasing their stress during the pandemic. “Caring for the plants at home has given me comfort knowing that I have something useful to do,” says Gopal. She has about 15 plants that she purchased during the pandemic, making her home greener and livelier.
“The pandemic has put a strain on people’s mental health,” says Nguyen. She adds that plants can act as a form of distraction from their mundane stay-at-home lives. Plants have many benefits, including reducing stress and creating a feeling of well being, improving air quality, and some even create good Feng Shui for homes or offices.
Social media has been one of the best tools for Botaniful and Plantasia during the pandemic.
“We had to adapt to the changes, and started an online shop for local contactless pickups and deliveries,” says Nguyen. Certain challenges come with online interaction, though. “We have to train customers (on) how to order online, versus before they can just come in and buy,” says Nguyen. But the shop has been conducting weekly Instagram Live videos to inform customers of the plants they have in store in order to curb the challenges that they have been facing, and also allow the customers to look at the plants virtually. The interactivity that it possesses has been a way to get both parties more involved and interested in what the plant shop has to offer.
With Plantasia being a homegrown business, most of the interaction and transactions happen online. “I advertise on Facebook Marketplace as well as on my website,” says Gainer. Her experience using social media has been fruitful, as she says that it is easier to communicate with her customers if they need help or have any questions regarding their purchase plants. “I like it because with shops people may feel hesitant to contact them but because I communicate so much over Facebook Messenger, it is very easy to troubleshoot,” says Gainer.
Images courtesy of Botaniful.