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E’s Florals hunkers down

Local florist sees sales drop

SOLON– Elissa Lewis found out about Gov. Kim Reynolds’s decision to close florists in a series of rapid phone calls.
Other panicked businesses were calling her.
“At that point, I had already closed my shop, but was still doing business, either at the curb or making deliveries,” she said. “I guess I was already prepared for it.”
Reynolds had closed restaurants and bars, fitness centers, barbershops and salons, theaters and casinos earlier in the month in response to the community spread of COVID-19.
With other businesses closing and after hearing some people had tested positive in Solon, Lewis was convinced she needed to close the doors of E’s Florals, but still be operational.
By the time Reynolds announced additional nonessential retail closures on March 26, including bookstores, clothing, shoe and jewelry stores, furniture and home furnishing stores and florists, Lewis was already self-isolating at work.
“We’ve had our good days and we’ve had our bad days,” Lewis reported.
She feels fortunate to continue to receive what orders she has for flowers and plants. “It’s been just one day at a time.”
The 2019 novel coronavirus had a huge impact for E’s Florals.
Lewis said sales are down over 50 percent from the previous year.
“It’s just nuts,” she exclaimed.
Families are still wanting flowers for what private funeral services are being held, she said.
“Other than that, it’s not a whole lot.”
People are still ordering flowers and plants for birthdays, anniversaries and thinking-of-you occasions, but weddings have been postponing until later in the summer.
A father-daughter Girl Scouts dance the previous weekend was canceled.
“Really bummed to have missed that,” she said.
Unfortunately, it’s something everyone will have to get used to over the next couple of months, she observed.
At this point, Lewis is trying to make sure E’s Florals has something to sell.
As hard as it’s been on Lewis, it’s been harder on her wholesalers.
“With the lack of ordered flowers, they’re just throwing flowers away,” she said. “It’s just unbelievable. Loads and loads of flowers are just being dumped.”
It’s been heart-wrenching to see pallets of flowers thrown away, and almost as bad not having the need to order, she said.
“So I know there are other people way, way worse off than I am,” Lewis added. “I count myself lucky.”
In the last week, she had to reach out farther than just local wholesalers to find the flowers she wants.
“I can’t find gerbera daisies right now. I’m so sad, they’re such a happy flower,” she said. “They’re just bright and huge and lots of petals, I just love them.”
Many of her wholesalers obtain the daisies out of California, and she was fortunate enough to contact a Los Angeles grower only to learn six buildings on the farm had been emptied of flowers.
“It’s terrifying for me to know that all these beautiful flowers are not going to homes for people to enjoy,” she said. “Just having to make the best of it.”
E’s Florals hasn’t changed its hours, opening at 9 a.m. every day but Sunday. Lewis is trying to be available for anyone who needs something, but the answering machine is always on if she missed a call.
She’s also been active on social media. Connecting with Facebook and Instagram has been a lot of fun and helpful for the business, she noted.
Lewis announced a sale on plant kits over Facebook and ended up with
30 orders in a single day. The kits included a plant and pot, dirt and rock to hopefully keep people busy at home.
It went over well, and it was good to see some smiles, Lewis said.
“It was pretty cool.”
A new website for the full-service florist shop will hopefully be up in mid-April, she said.
Lewis officially opened E’s Florals– formerly Catnip Meadows– on the south edge of Solon 15 years ago.
Raised in Covington and then Cedar Rapids, she received her training while working at a successful floral shop in Marion. In 2001, she and husband John moved to Solon with their daughters Elizabeth and Bailey, and she subsequently started working out of her home.
Lewis first became aware of COVID-19 back in January when the family took a vacation to Las Vegas. People were just hearing about the virus in the U.S., and some people were wearing masks.
“I’m glad we got to go when we went,” she said.
She knows it’s frustrating for people. She totally understands, having turned off some of her lights to cut costs.
“Stay strong. We can get this,” she said. “Just be smart.”

E's Florals
101 Prairie Rose Lane #3
Solon, IA 52333
Facebook: @esflorals
Instagram: @esfloral2005