Florist feels rootless amid COVID-19 outbreak

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Tricia Chamberlain, 32, a former member of the now-defunct Lansing stand-up trio Comedy Coven, took over her family’s flower shop — Angel’s Floral Creations — when her mother retired. Since then, she has happily provided floral arrangements for weddings in Lansing and around the state. For someone in her line of business, a ban on large gatherings was a death sentence.

“We made the decision to close all of our operations when the governor issued the stay-at-home order,” explained Chamberlain. “We’re not an essential business. It didn’t feel right to do deliveries knowing that I could potentially be a carrier of the virus.”

The money that Chamberlain would have used to pay for rent, utilities and payroll disappeared as folks started canceling events and collecting refunds on their flowers. Still, she said that she has been able to provide her three employees a small stipend. “Right now, we’re selling gift cards to keep our bills paid. There’s not a lot of money left over to pay myself,” said Chamberlain.

To stay afloat, Chamberlain applied for $10,000 small business loan from the government. “I applied a couple of weeks ago, got a confirmation number and haven’t heard anything since then.” She also hasn’t heard any news on whether she’ll be getting a personal stimulus check. It feels like being in limbo, she said.

While Chamberlain can’t take any new inquiries until the shop reopens, she has still been staying in touch with brides-to-be who placed orders before the pandemic. The main thing on their minds: rescheduling. “That’s my highest priority right now,” said Chamberlain.

Working toward keeping the business alive has been a useful distraction for Chamberlain in these distressing times. “It’s hard not to feel depressed, but I hope there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “I hope people will still want to celebrate the big occasions in their lives. And we’ll be there for them.”

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