Heaven and Earth Florist in South Bend has a new owner. The business was deemed nonessential so it’s owner has gotten creative in finding a way to stay open. The business now anticipates to reopen on Wednesday. Dani Graf bought Heaven and Earth Florist less than a year ago and now her business was deemed non-essential during the coronavirus pandemic. Graf is working with a modified schedule and making adjustments to help her business during this time. Graf, 28, purchased the long-established Heaven and Earth Florist shop from previous owner Cathy Catanzarite in June 2019. Since then, she’s filled her first wedding, birthday and Valentine’s Day orders. She’s also experienced the effect of her first pandemic.

Heaven and Earth (considered a non-essential business) started losing money when businesses began shuttering because of the governor’s stay-at-order in March.

“This COVID-19 has changed everything and I am working with a business that has been around for 45 years and I only have nine months of resources,” Graf said. “There was not a lot of time to prepare for a crisis and everything is a new experience for me, so throwing this pandemic in has been a wild ride.”

As events like weddings began getting called off, Graf had to refund money for floral orders that would not be filled, as well as deal with new orders that wouldn’t be coming in. In March, she shut down all operations at her shop at 143 S. Dixie Way in South Bend, going in only a few times during the week to water house plants and greenery.

But like many other business owners during this time, the pandemic sparked a new level of creativity in Graf about how to make things work.

Instead of leaning on flowers that often had to be imported from other countries, she has started to depend on local suppliers selling local flowers. And since customers could not walk into the store and place orders and buy gifts, Graf relied more on a talented floral designer and employees who had worked for Catanzarite in the past and have stayed on with Graf. During this time, the business has begun offering “designers choice” bouquets where flowers and designs are created at the discretion of the floral designer, creating a unique and personal option.

According to the National Retail Federation, 86% of surveyed people are planning to celebrate Mother’s Day this year, whether it be virtually, sending a greeting card or ordering in a special carryout brunch from a local restaurant. Mother’s Day is also one of the most profitable weekends for floral shops like Heaven and Earth and the NRF predicts 64% of people will get flowers for Mom. That number is only slightly down from last year’s 67%.

In light of the news, Graf plans to reopen the store for in person sales on Wednesday, just in time for Mother’s Day. With the reopening, she will also unveil a new layout and image for the business, which she created during the downtime. And for customers that still […]