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A flower shortage is driving up costs for a Mother's Day of post-COVID-19 reunions

Haley Smith, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Dwindling supply levels became such an issue this year that Saeed Babaeean, owner of the Empty Vase Florist in West Hollywood, said he had to stop taking orders Tuesday after several shipments arrived late and others didn’t arrive at all.

Babaeean said it’s a comparatively good problem to have after last year’s challenges, which included having to lay off most of his staff after the initial shutdown. He’s been able to gradually bring the team back in recent months, and he expects this year’s Mother’s Day to go toe-to-toe with his other busiest day of the year, Valentine’s Day.

Inside the Flower Market on Friday, one could almost forget the empty halls of 2020.

“It’s fantastic!” FleuraMetz Manager Hans Boer said of the crowds. “Last year was a pain. People weren’t allowed in the building. Now we’re busy.”

Boer said prices for some of his flowers, including roses, climbed 30% to 40% this week. But unlike Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day affords more options for shoppers: Those looking for deals can try sunflowers, geraniums or tulips, he said.

Robert Rahon, 31, stood with an armful of tulips — along with peonies, eucalyptus branches and a kumquat plant — as he waited for his girlfriend, Jenna Barazsu, 29, to finish scanning the aisles.

 

“Roses are $30 a color, which is kind of insane,” Rahon said.

Still, he was glad for what the flowers represented. The couple were shopping for Mother’s Day and for a relative’s bridal shower, which is being held nearly a year after the wedding was postponed by COVID-19.

Rahon was also preparing to visit his 95-year-old grandmother at her nursing home in Fresno for the first time since before the pandemic, he said.

That people have so much to celebrate was a welcome change for many vendors. During the pandemic, sadder occasions often filled the places left by canceled birthdays, weddings, quinceañeras and other floral-centric events.

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