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Bloom or bust: One industry’s struggle with coronavirus

Bloom or bust: One industry’s struggle with coronavirus

Challenges for florists similar to other small businesses nationwide One of the last arrangements waiting to be delivered at Stein’s Flowers in Shillington, Pa. The shop was among the “non-essential” businesses that recently closed in the state to reduce the spread of coronavirus. (MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images) The new coronavirus had just barely arrived in Sedgwick County, home to Wichita, Kansas’ largest city. Only one case was reported as of last week. But florist Jennifer Barnard felt its effects all the same. The lifeblood of the flower industry dried up as event after event evaporated from Barnard’s calendar. State governments shrunk the number of people allowed to congregate. Schools canceled proms. Couples delayed their weddings. Businesses with regular flower orders shuttered. Supply chain issues plagued Barnard as well. Her flowers come from all over the world, from the Netherlands to Ecuador to California. But breaks in the chain mean flowers are no longer arriving. The flower industry is only one of many across the country facing daunting prospects as the American and world economies stagnate because of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Even in areas that haven’t seen many cases of COVID-19, measures to curtail the virus taken in other places touch communities of every size and geography. The floral industry’s obstacles aren’t identical to other struggling sectors such as food service, entertainment and tourism. But small businesses nationwide face similar questions as they grapple with decimated revenue and fixed expenses. Many will look to aid packages and stimulus bills from the federal government as a lifeline to carry them through the economic downturn. But they are uncertain whether they will get help, whether it will be enough and whether it will arrive in time. White House and Senate leaders agreed on a coronavirus stimulus package […]

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