We’re spotlighting a couple of small businesses throughout the district, struggling in the wake of COVID-19, that are hopeful they can reopen with appropriate social distancing in May.
Garden’s Gate Garden Center and Landscaping Incorporated
Business Type: Garden Center and Landscaping
Owner/Operator: Stephanie Stacy & Dave Stacy
Location: Ottawa, IL
Years in Business: 10
Family Owned: Yes
Have you had to stop all operations, or have you been able to offer delivery or curbside pickup? Our garden center is offering curbside pickup and delivery, as well as individual appointments with customers to visit the garden center. We are able to sell landscape materials and perform landscaping, but with May, our biggest month of the year, days away, we are very concerned that we may not be able to fully open, which will devastate our garden center sales and likely end up shutting us down.
Have you had to lay off or furlough staff? Yes, we have some staff that still have not returned to work since our normal winter layoff either due to lack of business or simply being too scared to return to work.
Are businesses that offer the same or similar services considered essential and allowed to operate while your business is not? Yes, most big box stores are still selling plants to customers.
What has been your biggest struggle? Trying to plan for May! The governor isn’t giving us any direction on where we will be in May. We have tens of thousands of plants growing for Mother’s Day, if we can’t allow customers on our site to shop, how are we going to sell them? The state needs to tell business owners what they are planning instead of dragging it out until the last minute.
Are there any ways you’ve seen the community rally around your business? Our community is amazing. We have customers almost daily, supporting us on social media and telling us they are buying from us to keep it local! Ottawa truly is one supportive community, and we are trying to pay it forward.
Is there anything else you want to share? Yes! Most of our product is outdoors, why can’t we be open if we utilize social distancing and precautions? Gardens, whether they be for food or flowers, are therapeutic and essential for moral. Trying to shut independent garden centers down for literally their biggest selling month of the year will cripple our industry. We don’t get a make-up month like other businesses for us it’s practically sell in May or don’t sell at all. There is no valid reason garden centers shouldn’t be allowed to be open if most of their product is located outside, the number of guests indoors is limited based on square footage, and social distancing is used.