Labor, supply shortages impacting Omaha floral businesses

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 5:55 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Businesses across the country and world have been impacted by labor and supply shortages as a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Omaha’s floral businesses are just one of many.

“A lot of floral designers are experiencing shortages among specialty flowers, the flowers that brides are looking for, what our special event clients are looking for and with that, we’ve seen higher prices, it’s been a little bit more challenging to get the flowers in, in good quality,” says independent Floral Designer John Fox, owner of John Fox Design.

Fox says the issue lies with growers and suppliers from around the world who are struggling with worker shortages. Along with Fox, Omaha wholesalers say shipments from places like Ecuador and Chile have been getting delayed.

“The everyday floral like carnations, daisies, some of those readily available flowers have not been as affected as greatly as specialty flowers,” Fox says. “It’s more expensive to grow them, it takes more time, and the quality it requires more attention.”

Fox says tropical floral and things like dahlias and ranunculus flowers have been harder to come by lately, and when shipments arrive, the quality isn’t always perfect.

“A lot of time, you know, we’re just so lucky when things do come in the way that they have lately, but again that’s just a lot of pre-ordering, and a lot of preparations and connections to make that happen.”

Fox has found success by doing just that: planning ahead, pre-ordering, and working with new suppliers.

“I’ve tried to use growers right here in the Midwest, some around Omaha to get some of my specialty product in to make sure we have good quality product and specialty items that my clients are looking for,” he says.

Before working with clients, he asks them to be patient and keep an open mind. If they’re fixated on a certain product that isn’t available, his design skills kick in to give clients a similar look with more readily available items.

He says the most important thing he and his clients can do, is to think ahead and place orders way ahead of time.

“If you’re planning a wedding, you should be in touch with your designer way in advance, and if it’s an event, definitely be in touch months in advance. Before, it could’ve been a few weeks, but now I’m just telling everyone to get in and have those conversations early.”

And with the holiday season around the corner, Fox says he’s prepared. Although he’s paying more to ensure variety and high quality on specialty items, that price increase won’t impact his customers, he says.

He’s hoping the industry and supply chain shortages will return to normal by the upcoming Valentine’s Day.

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