Reopening California: Mother's Day confusion for florists, consumers thanks to shelter-in-place guidelines

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As we approach Mother's Day, the biggest holiday for florists, there has been some confusion for shop owners and customers on how flowers can be purchased.

At San Francisco's Flower Mart, it might be their busiest week in their nearly 65 year history.

"Part of it is because restaurants aren't open this year for Mother's Day and if you were going to do something for mom, people are sending them flowers," says Jeanne Boes, general manager of the San Francisco Flower Mart.

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But along with the satisfaction of being busy, after weeks of being closed there is confusion on how those flowers can get to the consumer.

Earlier this week, Governor Newsom announced retail stores, including florists, were on the list of businesses that could start curbside pickup Friday, even asking Californians to support their local florist in a briefing on Friday.

So the news of six counties in the Bay Area deciding on Thursday to maintain shelter-in-place orders, allowing for flower deliveries only, was a blow.

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One woman at the Flower Mart called it "devastating" while Miriam Lara was shocked to hear she couldn't allow direct store sales to customers.

"I didn't know that! that's horrible!" exclaims Miriam , the third generation florist who owns Miriam's Floral Boutique in San Leandro. Miriam is a mother of 5 who says she depends on the orders to stay afloat.
"I do have pickup orders tomorrow... I gotta do what I gotta do."

At Not Just Flowers in the Castro, drivers patiently wait for their deliveries. And owners Lisa and Andrei have noticed some confused customers too.

RELATED: Berkeley florist changes mind about reopening Friday in defiance of Alameda County health order

They've had to turn some away in the early morning who showed up hoping to make a direct purchase. Those customers were directed to call and have orders delivered.

Several blocks away, the Bi-Rite market was swarming with customers who lined up beside rows of flowers for sale. Since markets are classified as an essential business selling groceries, flower sales are allowed.

But despite the boom in sales leading up to Mother's Day, florists are still hurting, trying to recover from canceled weddings and everything else during the pandemic.

"We don't know what the summer is going too look like. We really have no idea what's going to happen and how fast things will turn around." says Jeanne at the Flower Mart. She just encourages consumers to buy flowers whenever they can, from whoever they can to support the industry.

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