Nick Zannis is thankful his greenhouse established online sales five years ago, now that the retail world has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The doors of Golden Acre Home and Garden in Calgary are allowed to be open as an essential service in Alberta, but there are ample warnings about social distancing.
A steady stream of customers, many of them wearing face masks, walk through the store even though spring bedding plants aren’t ready and the selection of seeds and flowers is somewhat limited.
Zannis said having an online presence puts his greenhouse on less shaky ground than many others.
The business has sent products to as far away as Nunavut and Nova Scotia in recent years but will be focusing primarily on the Calgary market now.
Online orders are up by 2,000 per cent from a year ago, Zannis said. But it’s not a gold mine.
“It’s very expensive to operate. Now you have to pay somebody to go and do the shopping,” he said.
“But the online store has kind of kept us afloat … We’re just trying to survive, honestly. I just want to survive this year.”
In addition to Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia and Quebec have designated garden centres as an essential service. Other provinces, including Ontario, have forced them to keep their doors closed.
Peak gardening season begins in three weeks to a month. Vanderwerf said products will be spread out on benches and into the parking lot at his site.
Still, Vanderwerf is expecting a financial hit. He’s already losing business in flower baskets for hotels and restaurants.
“We’ll be down a bit. But I feel fortunate that I’m not owning a restaurant or a pub, because they’re hurting.”
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