As the first month of the new year draws to a close, so will the doors of a longtime Bayfield business. Fantasy Floral will close for the last time at the end January, a casualty of the anemic economy.
It hurts when the love of your life isnt making it, said Alma Evans, owner of the 20-year-old floral shop in Bayfield.
Shes not alone, her suppliers and advertising partners have told her repeatedly this month as she cancelled her shops contracts. Evans said some popular floral wire services, such as FTD and Teleflora, indicated her contract cancelation is among tens of thousands similar to ones theyre getting from around the country right now.
The floral-design and delivery business, once thought to be recession-proof, has failed to live up to its reputation during the current slowdown taking a toll on small mom-and-pop shops around the nation.
Birthdays, special flower-driven holidays and funerals occur in good and bad times, but people dont have the expendable cash to share their thoughts with a bouquet of colorful blooms these days, Evans and many other shop owners say.
News reports about the industrys declines offer conflicting explanations of the key culprit. Some experts blame consumers tighter pocketbooks. Florists Review last year cited the recession as causing an industrywide overall reduction in business and a drop in per-transaction prices for flower shops. Other news outlets have questioned whether a do-it-yourself attitude, helped with the likes of television personalities such as Martha Stewart, is playing a role. And still more industry counterparts have said a shift in the way people buy flowers, with a growing number of people getting their table bouquets and blooming gifts in grocery stores and online, is biting into business for people such as Evans.
One wholesaler with shops scattered throughout the country, David Dahlson of Mayesh Wholesale Florist, wrote in a blog recently that the floral industry is facing upheaval.
Today, as we survey the scene, it is fairly obvious that the cut-flower marketplace is in a state of reorganization, Dahlson wrote. Lets face it: The products we sell are not necessities by any stretch of the imagination.
The recession, rising freight costs, climate change and increasingly common weather events that kill off the beautiful contents of filled nurseries all are playing a role in pinching the flower business, Dahlson says.
Shes watched her local ranching and farming customers struggle to survive. Many of her oil, gas and construction-industry customers have left the area to find work. Those wire services that send orders from cities and towns elsewhere, they often dont calculate the additional cost she bears in delivering to remote La Plata County homes and businesses. Its nearly impossible to compete with the prices being offered by grocery-store chains in the area, she said.
Last Mothers Day, Evans made only a fraction of what she once did at her shop.
Even for funerals and weddings, people are skipping the flowers or placing much smaller orders, Evans said.
She shed many tears in the decision to shut the shop, Evans said. And with a husband whose work in the building industry also has trickled to a stop, many more tears are likely, she admits.
But its OK. I love our community, and people here are supportive. They understand, Evans said. It has been a long, hard struggle and the joy of my life. Sometimes you just have to know when its time to quit. I have faith theres something out there for me. Its all I can do.