In these challenging times, every retailer has a story… it may be one of struggle, confusion, anxiety, compromise, resolve, triumph, defeat, or if we are being honest, a combination of these experiences. For Lilium, the past few months have brought unprecedented challenges, highs and lows. We are still navigating this ever-changing business climate, but if there is one thing we can be sure of, it is that we would not still be standing without the support of our loyal customer base.
After surviving four years of highway construction in front of Lilium, where our entrances were often completely blocked, we were well-positioned for a banner year in 2020. Our recent building expansion was complete, and we were enjoying brisk sales in January and February. On March 9, we received a phone call from a standing account saying that they needed to cancel their weekly services. Losses mounted as those calls continued over the following four days.
There was tremendous confusion from federal, state and local governments as to proper protocol. Disinfect surfaces? Wear masks? What was essential business? Ultimately, florists were deemed “critical infrastructure” by the state of Texas, and florists were allowed to operate. Not only was this important in preserving jobs for our staff, we recognized the opportunity to make a positive impact on our community during discouraging times.
supply chain break
Our supply chain literally broke overnight. Every single local wholesaler closed. Farmers from all over the world were desperately trying to find a way to get their product to market. Trucking capacity dropped, flights were cancelled. Fortunately, we have fostered great relationships with the growers, and they agreed to sell directly to us. We had to completely change our purchasing model, but in the end, we were able to obtain the same high quality product that our customers expect and enjoy.
when life gives you lemons…
As you might imagine, the loss of standing accounts, cancelled events, postponed weddings, no proms or graduation celebrations hit us hard. However, occasions that would typically be reasons to gather became occasions to send flowers. When families couldn’t be together for Easter, they sent flowers. With many working from home, business executives couldn’t take their administrative staff to lunch for Administrative Professionals Day. They sent flowers.
For the same reason, we anticipated that Mother’s Day was going to be busier than normal. So many were not able to honor their moms in person, but wanted to make her day special. Because of the disrupted supply chain, we were not able to create a Mother’s Day menu as we have in the past. We were receiving beautiful product, but couldn’t select specific stems as we normally would. Without missing a beat, we were able to deliver double the number of Mother’s Day arrangements over last year.
Again, we would not have survived the past few months without the tremendous support of our customers and community. The local community really rallied behind local businesses. The City of Colleyville twice issued postcards with a $35 value to be used at local businesses. Many of our loyal customers called to ask how they could help. They increased their purchase frequency, which boosted our day-to-day sales and kept us going.
The challenges of this pandemic have forced us out of our comfort zone in many ways. We had to get creative and find new opportunities as former ones disappeared. We have risen to the challenge, and our customer base has actually grown out of this adversity. Lilium is proud to have kept our full-time staff working, and to have served our customers and community well. Our commitment remains to serve you with high quality, beautiful floral designs and top-notch customer service. Most importantly, we THANK YOU for your continuing loyal support.