While COVID-19 has affected businesses in a variety of ways, business owners are finding the positives.
“I’m a firm believer that plants make people happy,” said Valerie Sutton of Adel Flowers and Gifts and Harvey’s Greenhouse in Adel. “Plants truly make people happy. It’s just one of those really simple things that can bring a lot of joy to people and I’m excited that people are getting excited about that.”
Local greenhouses are seeing a boom this season as more customers are showing an interest in gardening.
“I would say I consider ourselves blessed a little bit,” said Jason Levan of Perry Greenhouse and Supply in Perry. “Customers I think just needed something to do at home. Gardening with vegetables has seen a huge spike, also just planting flowers and working in yards.”
Sutton said they have seen their regular customers coming in as well as new customers who may be trying to garden for the first time.
“There’s been a lot more people interested in gardening. A lot of times you’ll get customers come in and they’ll want a porch pot planter to sit on their front porch. Now those people are expanding to putting in lots of raised bed gardens and developing an interest in producing their own food,” she said.
Both greenhouses said the season got started early as the weather turned nice at the beginning of April. Vegetables have been a hot seller at both locations. Levan said they have come close to selling out of tomatoes three times while Harvey’s Greenhouse sold out of seed potatoes twice.
“It’s been an exceptional season. I’m starting to feel like the greenhouse is kind of like the grocery store, where some of our shelves are emptying out and that just usually doesn’t happen,” Sutton said.
She added that perennials and even their tropicals are doing well at Harvey’s Greenhouse.
Levan has sold out of a number of items at Perry Greenhouse and Supply, though he said they still have a number of plants and other items available. Some of those items include hanging baskets and planters.
Both locations are also taking extra safety precautions because of COVID-19. Perry Greenhouse has around 12,000 square feet of space inside while Harvey’s Greenhouse has around 40,000 square feet across 10 houses. Sutton said that makes it easier for people to follow social distancing guidelines.
“All the customers have been really respectful of each other and of us. We have hand sanitizer and we have a hand washing sink available,” she said.
The Perry and Adel greenhouses have also seen an increase in the number of customers ordering plants and picking them up curbside.
“We’ve done, I’ve estimated 40 percent of our business is curbside or truely delivery,” Levan said.
Customers can call in their orders and Levan said they can bring items right out to them on the curb. He also installed a doorbell for customers who want to stay at the curb.
Curbside service has been popular at Harvey’s Greenhouse as well. Sutton added that the flower shop has also offered free in-town delivery for Adel customers. Both services are ones Sutton said they will continue even after COVID-19.
“Do not worry about getting your plants to you. We will find a way,” she said.
Sutton and Levan said they appreciate customers and community members supporting them.
“I do think that a lot of the impact that we have seen is our community has really been supportive of the businesses,” Sutton said. “I can’t say that enough, that supporting your local businesses has made a huge impact in Adel alone.”
She has also enjoyed seeing both repeat and first-time customers come into the greenhouse.
“It’s been a really good season for us and more than anything sales wise, we’re just excited to see our community getting excited about gardening,” Sutton said.