Buchanan florist weathers mandates, looks to weddings

BUCHANAN — Florist Anna Gordon has now weathered four years in business at Flowers by Anna and a global pandemic.

Gordon was forced to cancel her four-year anniversary open house at the beginning of April. This last weekend, the shop was able to open for more curbside and delivery business as mandates restricting non-essential businesses were relaxed in Michigan.

Gordon has worked to adapt her business through the COVID-19 mandates, even prior to being able to offer curbside delivery, delivery and pickup outside of her shop.

“It’s been very heartbreaking,” Gordon said. “One day, I’m feeling great and coming up with new ideas, and feeling positive about it, and one day I’m really stressed.”

Flowers by Anna usually takes on around 100 weddings through a year, according to Gordon. April marks the official start to the traditional wedding season, and having brides calling to cancel or postpone their nuptials and the flowers that come with them has been difficult.

“It gets you down, but we’re trying to stay positive through it,” Gordon said. “Trying to do the best we can.”

As Gordon has not been able to open her brick and mortar business’ doors to the public just yet, she has been working on other ways to connect with her customers. Using the Flowers by Anna website to feature floral arrangements for ordering is just one of the ways she has continued to connect with customers.

“Right when this kind of started, when we had to be closed, I came up with the idea of an online shopping experience page,” Gordon said.

She created a Facebook group, “Flowers by Anna Online Shopping Experience,” where she features photographs of products she retails in the store, ranging from gifts, home décor, live plants and flower arrangements.

Gordon has also found ways to film videos of inside the store to feature different items, and show them in a way that allows the size and detail to be judged by potential buyers.

Still, the biggest hurdle has been to the shop’s wedding business.

“We had three weddings in April, all had to postpone, and one had to cancel,” Gordon said. “Postponing means that they’re choosing fall dates, which I am already pretty booked up for. I’m telling them I’m going to make it work no matter what, but sometimes, I won’t be able to deliver and set up because I am already committed to other weddings.”

With no clear answers on the future of weddings planned through the rest of the year, in relation to what mandates and precautions will be recommended going forward through the COVID-19 pandemic, Gordon is working to remain flexible.

“We don’t have answers yet,” Gordon said. “Even if [the governor] lifts the ‘Stay-At-Home’ order, weddings are 250 people.”

Gordon has between 40 to 50 weddings booked before then.

In the meantime, Gordon has turned her focus to the local market in Buchanan with Mother’s Day approaching. Working with other local, small businesses like Pure Rituals, Natural Instinct Massage Therapy, Union Coffee House and Café, Off the Wahl Photography and River Saint Joe brewing company, they have created a gift basket to bring business and support to the area when they can reopen.

“What a better way to promote them than to provide this basket for customers to buy for Mom,” Gordon said, of other small Buchanan businesses that have faced challenges like her own.

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