City allows San Francisco Flower Market to reopen its doors following coronavirus closure
Opened in 1912, the San Francisco Flower Market (SFFM) has never closed its doors. Not once, not even during the 1989 San Francisco earthquakes, according to Jeanne Boes, the market’s general manager.
“That earthquake happened around 5 p.m., and our doors still opened the following morning,” she said.
But the SFFM’s longevity was no match for the onslaught of COVID-19 and the ensuing global pandemic. The thriving floral distributor at Sixth and Brannan Streets – one of California’s largest – was forced to cease all operations in early March, dump close to $1 million in product and layoff 90 percent of its 350+ workforce.
“Because we had to dump everything so quickly, we didn’t have time to reach out and donate it,” Boes said. “It was heartbreaking.”
Boes and others in the floral industry recognized that losing such a vital link in the supply chain between growers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers could mean long-term or even permanent disaster for the floral industry at large.
“I love this industry and all of the people in it,” Boes said. “We started thinking, ‘What can we do to salvage it before it all goes away?’”
Boes and others, like Patrick Dahlson, CEO of Mayesh Wholesale Florist, appealed to the city of San Francisco to reopen the SFFM, stating that it’s an essential part of keeping the floral industry going.
“We watch Amazon trucks deliver nonessential items all over the Bay Area. Restaurants remain open for takeout and delivery; people want to support small business and keep the restaurant industry alive. We are confident that the SF Flower Market can safely reopen for the distribution of wholesale flowers in the Bay Area and help keep the floral industry alive,” Dahlson wrote in his plea to Aaron Peskin, member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and Anne Taupier of SF’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.
And city officials agreed. SFFM was allowed to reopen on April 22. However, it will be far from business as usual. The SFFM is reopening in phases – the first phase only to wholesale customers with pre-ordered drive-through pickups, according to Boes.
“We’re hoping to get customers back in the building, but for the foreseeable future, we will be enforcing strict social distancing guidelines similar to what supermarkets are doing – lots of heavy signage, markings on the floor to keep people 6 feet apart, etc…” Boes said.
She added that this isn’t the first time the city has fought to help this historic market survive and now, thanks to San Francisco’s support, there is hope blooming once more for the floral industry – just in time for Mother’s Day.