For mom and pop businesses, Mother’s Day comes in a rush | Business

CANTON — At White’s Flowers, just a block away from Main Street, the flurry of activity that leads up to Mother’s Day has abated. The store is open for ultra last-minute mother rememberers, but the deliveries have all been made and things are starting to return to normal.

Normal for owners Brenda L. Snow and her husband Michael R. Snow are the crazy hours and always-on-call life of every small business owner.

The Mother’s Day rush has passed, but there are proms coming up and graduations. It’s the season to decorate cemeteries and plan for weddings.

Still, there is nothing like Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day flowers are ready to be delivered at White’s Flowers in Guangzhou. Last-minute shoppers are running out of options. Tom Graser/Watertown Daily Times

“It’s like pushing four weeks of business into one week,” Mrs. Snow said.

Flower orders have to come first.

“We pre-buy a month ahead,” Mrs. Snow said.

Delivery staff helps with flower prep, which involves separating the blooms, putting them in buckets and then moving them into cold storage before the bouquets can be assembled.

Aside from drivers doing double duty, the staff is essentially doubled, Mrs. Snow said.

Part-time workers become full-time workers, she said.

The Snows have owned the store since 1984 and they have seen business pick up in the past few years like never before.

First the COVID-19 pandemic hit, causing people to reach out to florists to keep in touch with their loved ones. Then other florists, most notably in Ogdensburg, closed, giving more people fewer options.

Gone are the corsages that used to be part of Mother’s Day, but people still want fresh flowers for mom, she said.

People seem to be returning to the comfort of familiar items, she added.

“Butterflies and humming birds,” she said. “Homey, comfy arrangements — tea cups, cutesy mom things.”

The best thing to do when ordering flowers, Mrs. Snow said, is order early, at least a week ahead of time.

You don’t need to worry about an arrangement being made too early. Nothing is put together until just before delivery. Early orders will have more options available, she said.

“You can never order too early,” she said. “You will get your wishes.”

And you don’t have to wait for Mother’s Day — “You can celebrate mom every day,” Mrs. Snow said.

Midway between Pyrites and Russell on Pyrites Russell Road, Farr’s Greenhouse is starting to bustle with business.

The 7,200-square-foot greenhouse complex is literally bursting with plants of every color and size.

Hundreds of hanging baskets are suspended from the ceiling and thousands of plants cover every inch of tables that run the length of the greenhouses.

Morgan J. Farr, who owns the business with his wife Sarah J. Farr, won’t even venture a guess on how many individual plants they have.

They come to him as little plugs — a shoot of green in a 1-inch drop of potting soil — from a nursery in Maine toward the end of February.

The Morgans take the plugs and transplant them into suitable environments—hanging baskets for the trailing petunias, six-pack flats for the ground cover—then they water and wait, and water and wait.

The greenhouse opens in the last week of April and the Morgans start to get really busy.

“We used to open the first weekend in May,” Mr. Morgan said. “Since COVID, we opened a week early, at the end of April, and people love it.”

The greenhouse will remain open until this year’s plants are gone.

“We grow what we have — and it is what we have,” he said. “When it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Mother’s Day weekend, especially because of the expected sunny weather, will be “absolute chaos,” Mr. Morgan said.

On Mother’s Day, the most popular item is not in doubt.

“The biggest seller this weekend will be hanging baskets,” Mr. Morgan said. “People will come early because they want to get the pick.”

On top of the greenhouse, the Morgans have other jobs. They both work as nurses and juggle their 12-hour nursing shifts to keep their business humming along.

Mr. Morgan was born into the business. His parents bought June’s Greenhouse in Russell in 1979 and ran it for 18 years.

He and Mrs. Morgan reopened the business in 1997 and moved it to its current location in 2003.

People need to be careful buying plants intended to be transplanted outside this early, Mr. Morgan said.

“The ground temperature has to be warm and there can’t be a frost,” he said.

The ground temperature is not warm enough yet and there will likely be another frost, he said. The hanging baskets are good because they can be brought inside on cool nights.

The greenhouse has gotten busier, Mrs. Morgan said.

The pandemic has caused more people to put in gardens and to spend more time working on their yards.

It’s a busy time of year, but she likes it.

“This is the time of year that you get to see everybody,” she said.

“When you do what you like,” Mr. Morgan said, “you like to do it.”

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