Florist says shops are in ‘survival season’ due to virus


Nico Bella sells flowers near Pioneer Courthouse Square at her shop, Spellbound Flowers

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The first death in Oregon from the coronavirus came last night. In response to local and federal health officials, people are avoiding public spaces and staying at home.

There were a lot of empty public spaces on Sunday across Portland as discussions on the best way to slow the spread of the new virus continue. KOIN 6 News spoke with one business owner who said that during this dark time, she’s brightening people’s day one flower at a time.

Nico Bella, owner of Spellbound Flowers in Portland. March 15, 2020 (KOIN)

Nico Bella sells flowers near Pioneer Courthouse Square at her shop, Spellbound Flowers.

“It’s jarring to us. We need things to feel stable and all of a sudden it doesn’t feel stable and it’s very unnerving,” said Bella. “We haven’t really seen a huge amount of impact yet. In fact, I’ve had more people stopping to buy themselves small.”

She suspects that’s because people want something to lighten the mood in troubling times.

“This becomes a bar to a certain extent, people want to talk and be heard and so everybody is stopping by and getting a flower, but also I’m hearing a lot of concerns,” said Bella. “It’s like pouring a shot for somebody, but instead it’s a long-stem rose.”

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Others like Tom Campbell have watched as parks clear out and gatherings get canceled. Even his small writing group pulled the plug.

“Only five people and that was canceled,” said Campbell. “I can see canceling large numbers of people.”

He said he feels there may be some over-reaction happening, but still sees the reasoning behind it. Campbell said he’s most worried about the impact the virus will have on the US and global economy.

“You can already see it with the Dow Jones, you can see it with businesses being canceled—all sporting events—there’s all kinds of income and revenue that are going on that are simply going to be wiped out,” said Campbell.

Flowers for sale at Spellbound Flowers. March 15, 2020 (KOIN)

Bella said the floral industry has taken a hit ever since gatherings were restricted to 250 people.

“A lot of weddings are being put off and my friends who work in the music industry are being heavily impacted too with venue cancelations,” said Bella.

She said she’s lucky because she runs a small business with minimal overhead. She plans to focus more on growing her Spellbound Flowers website and delivery service in the weeks ahead.

“We were hoping to be in a growing season, but it’s going to be a survival season, so we do what we can,” said Bella.

Bella said the situation has also made her aware of how much she touches money on a regular basis. She said she’s taking the precautions everyone is doing, such as washing her hands and using hand sanitizer.

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