Florist Helena solves supply chain problems

HELENA — With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, millions of people are turning to classic chocolates and flowers as a gift for their significant other. But with so many shortages in the supply chain, even industries such as florists are feeling the pinch.

The Floral Cottage off N Sanders St. is in full swing for the holiday rush. In this busy time of the year, keeping track of orders and satisfying every customer is a full-time job.

Owner Pamela Lee tells me that once the pandemic started, it became increasingly difficult to get flowers from local vendors in California, Washington, Canada and Mexico. Getting flowers from normal sellers has become almost impossible. Prices from their suppliers were rising due to lost profits and specialty flowers were hard to come by.

After browsing flower pages on Facebook, Pamela was able to find an Ecuadorian dealer who could supply her with the flowers she needed. Thanks to this connection, the flowers became much easier to obtain. But specialty flowers such as peonies and cow lilies are always hard to come by, but overall she was able to keep plenty of flowers in stock.

But things you don’t expect like baskets, vases and delivery drivers are rare, Pamela tells me.

“Durable goods are tougher. Like vases, baskets, things like that, there’s a shortage in the industry for those, so we don’t have as big of a selection as we used to,” says Lee.

But Pamela’s style is ingenious. She reuses the boxes in which the flowers are delivered. She also has a vase recycling program where she will donate to local dog rescue groups in exchange for vases brought in by customers to be reused. Although struggles persist, Pamela has a much better idea of ​​the challenges presented by the current state of supply shortages and how to manage business within these parameters.

“This season, this year with Valentine’s Day, we have three other major holidays that we’ve been through, so a lot of us are more comfortable. We know what to expect. We know what we can get, what we can’t get,” says Lee.

As we have seen throughout the pandemic, ingenuity and ingenuity have been required to avoid the impacts of COVID. Lee sees the current situation as the new normal and that we will not see a return to the current situation, at least in the floral industry.

“There is a new normal and I don’t think that will change. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to our industry, I don’t think we’ll ever go back to what it was four years ago,” Lee says.

If you still haven’t received your Valentine’s Day flowers, you might want to consider visiting your local florist today.

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