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Florists give away flowers from canceled gatherings

by Cary Jenkins | April 5, 2020 at 1:57 a.m.
Wedding reception flowers from a featured High Profile wedding in 2013 (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Cary Jenkins) Guest table centerpieces

Beautiful floral arrangements can set the scene and mood for any event, from soft romantic rose bouquets at weddings to over-the-top centerpieces with an explosion of colorful flowers at galas. But what happens when an event is canceled or, in this case, when practically a whole social season is canceled?

Several Little Rock florists and their clients decided to share the joy that flowers can bring.

"We order flowers for weddings and events weeks in advance to allow them to ship both domestic and internationally. Once we claim so many cuts at the farm it is difficult to cancel them," says Tanarah Haynie, owner of Tanarah Luxe Florals. "A lot of our events -- going into the pandemic -- made decisions in the 11th hour due to the information given by the CDC. I have never experienced anything like this in my 20 years of business -- so to say we were all just 'playing it by ear' was the honest truth."

Catherine Brewington, marketing director with Tipton and Hurst, says they had already ordered flowers for several weddings, the Evolve Gala, Little Rock Go Red for Women Luncheon and the Arkansas State Gymnastics Championships. "We gave customers the option to either get a refund or allocate the deposit to their new event dates. So far, we have issued more than 300 refunds."

"Covid-19 has been extremely stressful for our customers," Brewington says, "particularly for those with upcoming spring weddings and other large-scale events. They shouldn't have to pay for flowers they aren't able to use. As studies show -- and we know firsthand -- flowers help alleviate people's anxiety and improve their moods. We wanted to use our abundance of flowers to provide comfort and joy to those who need it most."

So Tipton & Hurst has donated many arrangements to nonprofit organizations. "We've delivered more than 1,500 stems of flowers to local charities, including pre-made bouquets to help spread cheer among residents at these organizations."

Haynie and a wedding client helped to spread joy by giving flowers to the public. "Giving the flowers away was my client's decision. I also had clients who came and picked up their flowers to enjoy at home. Either way, the flowers are not mine to use but are the property of the clients and they decide how they will be used."

She says that the flowers from the rescheduled wedding were single stem, not yet made into arrangements. "We decided, along with our rescheduled bride, that giving flowers by the stem would protect everyone involved."

"The people loved it," she says. "We put them out by the Clinton Library in case they wanted to drive by and pick them up and we placed them by The Heights Corner Market so that people could grab them as they were leaving the store."

Another way that Haynie's business is sharing the flowers from their weekly stock and canceled nonprofit events is through social media. "We are sending arrangements out daily from our own floral stock based on call to action posts on social media in the form of a giveaway," she says.

"I feel that this community has done so much to help [Tanarah Luxe Florals] that I want to bring awareness to other local business owners by getting dialogues started about their businesses. If one of our audience members gives a great answer to a question about that local business, they win an arrangement from us. It really is about a community.

"My goal in all of this is to keep people happy with pretty flowers and to build awareness and to help my fellow local small businesses which are the backbone of our community. Now, more than ever, we need the support."

Nonprofits with resident programs like Our House, Ronald McDonald House and Women & Children First have benefited from Tipton & Hurst's floral overflow.

Janell Mason, executive director of Ronald McDonald House of Central Arkansas, says that Tipton & Hurst surprised them with an arrangement for each family staying at the house.

"I was in the lobby when [a patient's] family -- who has called Ronald McDonald House their home away from home for several months -- returned to the house. Mom's smile said it all when she received one of the spring bouquets for their suite," Mason says. "With so much anxiety, this kindness speaks volumes about Tipton & Hurst and their staff. It illustrates the best of humanity and local florists -- brightening the days of families while they are enduring their darkest hours."

But it also seems to be a day brightener for the givers.

"Between covid-19 and the near-constant rainfall, it's been a dreary couple of weeks. Everyone was so happy and appreciative to receive the flowers 'just because,'" Brewington says. "It was an immediate mood booster -- for the recipients and for us."

High Profile on 04/05/2020

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