GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — “We were selling tulips and hand-tied bouquets from our homes.”
Co-owners Renee Koops and Missie Polakovich seem to enjoy telling the tale of how they opened their dream business, Southside Flower Market, in December 2019, only to be shut down in March by the pandemic.
“We still had bills to pay,” Missie explains. “We bought tulips at our wholesaler, and we just sold them off our porches. And the community in the neighborhood was amazing.”
“We had a cooler full of thousands of dollars of flowers,” Koops remembers. “We had the flowers outside, and they would come and grab and go and put money in a jar.”
The partners gave away flowers, too.
“Missie stood outside the D&W and was passing out flowers,” Koops adds. “We wanted to make people feel better, you know, with COVID.”
“Our third business partner, Tracy, we just all teamed together and rallied, and we had community huge support while helping us get through that.”
The shop is back open, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
“We love to have grab-and-go flowers [and] you get to come in and pick an assortment of stems in the cooler and build your own bouquets,” notes Koops, explaining that Southwest Flower Market is a " fresh flower market European style.”
The changes brought by the pandemic are still a part of their business every day.
“We pivoted to do curbside pickup and deliveries in the beginning,” says Koops. “And then we've just been adjusting, and we just keep pivoting because weddings have changed. Dances don't really exist with the schools anymore. So, we just have had to pivot and readjust ourselves with funerals and weddings and events. So, it's been challenging.”
“We do a very safe COVID-safe delivery where we call to make sure they're home,” adds Missie. “We tell them what time or deliveries are leaving here. And then we ring the doorbell, and we step off their porch and step back ... We still do curbside for people who are not interested in coming in the store.”