Plenty of residents have left signs or posts in their front windows during the pandemic to passersby. Some thank frontline workers for their efforts, others remind people to keep practising safe social distancing protocols, while a handful simply let strangers know they are not alone.
In the lead-up to an unusual Valentine’s Day, the front window of Jade Garden in Vankleek Hill has been plastered with messages of love and gratitude from members of the community. Staff asked residents to send in their messages, either signed or anonymous, then wrote them down on heart-shaped pieces of paper and stuck them to the inside window.
Jade Garden owner Erin Dawson said the messages also gave the flower and gift shop the opportunity to thank the community for their support during a challenging year. “I know it’s corny to say, but it’s such a nice town,” she said. “Everybody shops local. I can’t even tell you the number of people who’ve called to say, ‘I want to send flowers to my mom’, or ‘I want to send flowers to a teacher’, and ‘I want to support local’.”
Dawson expected a rush of last-minute requests for flowers and gifts in the lead-up to February 14, but had already received interest online. She said the province’s lockdown had made the logistics more challenging than usual, but said demand remained strong.
“We’ll be busy with line-ups, because that’s the way it goes every year,” she said. “We have a lot of Galentine’s, a lot of girls buying for their friends, so that’s very driven online. We don’t have a lot of pre-orders, but we typically don’t for Valentine’s Day, that’s more Christmas and Mother’s Day.”
Supply chain disruptions were another hurdle for florists ahead of Valentine’s Day. Flowers for Valentine’s Day were ordered before Christmas to ensure on-time delivery, while prices rose. “I haven’t changed my pricing, because I don’t want to do that to people in a pandemic, but we do pay a little more because they’re a little more difficult to get,” Dawson said. “All of our roses are from Colombia and Ecuador, so that’s tougher to get, though they have been better since Mother’s Day.”
Despite the pandemic, Jade Garden remained in a relatively stable position thanks to strong Mother’s Day and Christmas sales. Mother’s Day stock began to run out last year, but Dawson ensured gifts for elderly residents were accepted. “A lot of them have been in lockdown for so long, and can’t see anyone at all, so we try to get to them first,” she said.