Published in The Ararat Advocate, Ararat's weekly newspaper published by West Vic News Pty Ltd.
CUPID’S loveless arrow has hit local florists hard at a time when they are usually capitalising on the Valentine’s Day rush.
The snap circuit-breaker lockdown announced by Premier Daniel Andrews last Friday, just hours before it came into effect, has been a major blow to the businesses.
Orders were flowing in at Bec McDougall’s Three Blooms Florist mid-week, in what was fast becoming a large response from local romantics.
“We don’t get heaps of orders but this year around Wednesday, orders were coming in thick and fast - up to 50 for Friday, Saturday and Sunday - so we instantly knew that it was going to be a bigger one than last year,” she said.
Mrs McDougall’s positivity turned to a desperate panic on Friday afternoon when forced to deal with the sudden lockdown announced.
“When we heard it was to be all of Victoria, I instantly felt sick and my phone started ringing off the hook,” she said.
“Usually, Dan makes it Sunday 11:59pm but when we heard Friday 11:59pm, I went into panic mode and stopped all orders to make sure we could get the ones out first we had already taken.”
With flower orders made a month in advance, and a wedding and 21st function booked in, it was a stressful few day for Mrs McDougall.
“Thankfully, the wedding practice run [on Friday] turned into the actual wedding,” she said.
“We couldn’t have our door open to welcome people in, it was just such a shame as we had big plans and big displays. People don’t want to window shop and have to choose.
“I will be forever grateful for the people who just came down asking what I needed to sell so they could help out. A lady wished to buy the whole table of flowers which made me so emotional.”
She is still hoping for some sort of government support that recognises the compromises businesses are making to keep their doors open in between lockdowns.
“As a sole trader, god I hope so. I worked my butt off last time and continued to work from home, whilst also homeschooling my children, yet for every grant or funding I was knocked back,” Mrs McDougall said.
She is thankful that her business has been able to continue contactless delivery, rather than nothing at all.