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Flower power: Florists and flower farmers hopeful during pandemic

Flower power: Florists and flower farmers hopeful during pandemic

While the COVID-19 pandemic has curbed consumer spending and kept people at home instead of in stores, some people in the floral industry say they’re staying afloat because flowers bring people together.

Evergreen Florist of Appleton just moved into their new location on Mason Street and even got a socially-distant visit from Appleton Mayor Jake Woodford a few days after their grand opening. While the pandemic’s economic effects caused Evergreen to open a few months later than intended, they’ve gotten good business so far because of their outdoor space.

"I think people are realizing the power of flowers and plants to bring people together and lighten moods," said Spencer Seim, who works for Evergreen. "We could all definitely use a moment to stop and smell the flowers in the midst of this pandemic."

Seim said the store is only open by appointment right now for funerals and weddings, but they’ve already had successful pop-up shops in their outdoor garden, including the one that kicked off their grand opening. The store also does delivery and curbside pickup and orders can be placed online or over the phone.

Evergreen buys and resells wholesale flowers and plants, but Seim said they’re also looking into selling homegrown plants too. He said that while many flowers in the US are imported, he wants to help shorten the supply chain and keep things local, all while reducing their carbon footprint. Seim added that his store is working to reduce single-use plastics too – for instance, instead of using plastic skewers for putting cards in flower arrangements, they now use wooden skewers that are biodegradable.

"We’re very much a neighborhood florist," Seim said. "For us, (the season) has been going pretty good. I would say from our perspective as retailers, all of our regular farms have actually been able to get pretty good product and it’s been up to our quality."

Seim said sunflowers are popular summer picks right now, especially less-common varieties like white, crimson and bi-color sunflowers. He also said you can’t go wrong with roses and daisies because they never go out of style and look good in most floral arrangements. He said despite weathering the pandemic, the flower industry did really well on Mother’s Day this year and continues to stay afloat in Wisconsin.

Evergreen buys some of their product from Karthauser & Sons of Germantown, which offers potted plants, herbs and some cut flowers. Owner Brian Karthauser said the weather has been good for his plants this year, grown in a 180,000 square-foot greenhouse. He also grows hardy mums on just over 2 acres outside.

"The weather’s been pretty good for hardy mums – if you have cool evenings, that can trigger them into blooming, but this year … we had warmer evenings," Karthauser said. "We had a hot stretch there, yeah, but you always get that in the summertime."

Karthauser said this year’s Easter holidays were devastating because they are usually a significant event for flower sales, but with church services canceled and many staying inside, a lack of […]

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