Highs, lows and a new perspective
Steve and Susan Dalton, shown here with their grandsons, Lincoln and Bowen, have been in business for over 30 years. Steve and Susan Dalton have seen a thing or two after more than three decades in business.
The couple opened their flower shop in Altavista in 1986. Since then they’ve celebrated when their children and grandchildren were born, and despaired when a fire destroyed their original business. Though the store now faces a global pandemic, Steve Dalton said business has been relatively steady during the past few months thanks to online sales.
“You just have to adapt and do what you can do,” Dalton said.
Though the store has relied mostly on online sales, the Daltons still welcome the occasional in person visit. Susan Dalton said holidays like Mother’s Day were even busy for the store.
“People couldn’t visit their moms so they sent flowers,” Dalton said.
Certain flowers have been harder to come by than others, and at one point a supplier of artificial flowers stopped delivering completely. The Daltons said another supplier in Lynchburg recently went out of business. Despite hiccups from suppliers, the Daltons said they can offer just about any flower they normally would be able to between Monday and Friday, provided it’s in season.
Even when the Daltons may not have access to certain flowers because of issues with suppliers, Susan Dalton said most customers have been understanding.
“They’ll say ‘I like this and this’ and then they’re willing to change,” Dalton said.
Other things are different in small ways. Steve Dalton said when he delivers flowers, most want him to simply leave them on the porch rather than having him bring them inside or greeting him at the door.
The Daltons also said nursing homes present a challenge, as deliveries usually have to wait outside until staff can retrieve them.
Steve Dalton said a weak wedding season has taken a slight toll, and that business has depended largely on funerals and random orders of late. Still, Dalton said a summer slump is not unusual for florists.
“Even though business is slower, we just have to try to adapt the way we work,” Dalton said. “When we’re slow, we work on things to get ahead.”
Steve Dalton said dealing with the pandemic and the usual summer slump hasn’t been nearly as bad as dealing with the fire that burned he and his wife’s business to the ground in 2007.“The fire was probably the worst thing I’ve ever lived through,” Dalton said.It’s what forced the Daltons to move from their former location on Broad Street to their current location in what used to be a doctor’s office at 507 Seventh Street.Little in the carefully arranged flowers or colorful toys stashed around the store for the Dalton’s two young grandsons, Bowen and Lincoln, would betray all that the store and its owners have been through.“I guess after you’ve gone through rough times, it makes you look at things from a different perspective,” Dalton said.Susan Dalton said she’s grateful to be open.“We’ve been very blessed,” Dalton said.