The state of Michigan is the only state with a strict order for garden centers to remain closed after Minnesota lifted its order. The lack of thought put into what Governor Gretchen Whitmer is doing is evident. Common sense about restrictions is missing in Michigan, and it’s killing small and large businesses ordered to stay shut down.
Even worse, stores like Walmart and Target are having to block off the garden sections so no one buys garden supplies like seeds. Yes, seeds are an item prohibited by this order from Whitmer.
The window of profit for the Michigan greenhouses is six weeks so this stay at home order is cutting into the profits for the businesses who will most likely go out of business after just a few weeks of the shutdown.
One grower had to throw out $125k of Easter lilies because they couldn’t be sold. The next big flower day is Mother’s Day and that’s not looking like it will be a day of profit because the ban hasn’t been lifted.
Executive Director of the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association Amy Upton told Brownfield Ag News: “Mother’s Day is another big time of year for us, and then with annuals, and if we are not able to sell those, we will see a lot of greenhouses go out of businesses.”
One of the businesses that is suffering was featured in Michigan Farm News:
Chad Christians of Christians Greenhouses began in 1972:
At Christians Greenhouse in Williamston, safety is top of mind, and brothers Jeremy and Chad Christians want to keep their customers and employees safe. However, the window to sell their annual crop of plants is quickly closing up fast. For Christians, the month of May sees 70-80% of their annual sales.
The brothers were hoping Governor Whitmer would allow greenhouses and garden centers to open up similar to EOs in Ohio, Illinois, New York, and North Carolina, where the retail sale of plants has been deemed essential infrastructure. Under a new section of the EO, Whitmer imposed new restrictions Thursday, saying, “large stores must also close areas of the store that are dedicated to carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries, or paint.”
“As residents continue dealing with impacts of Coronavirus on their lives, many would turn to gardening to cope with stress, no different than those who turn to puzzles, reading or music for similar benefits,” said MFB’s horticulture specialist, Audrey Sebolt. “If we can’t get flowers, vegetable plants, or nursery stock into their hands, they, unfortunately, lose an avenue and outlet to help them handle our current situation.”
Sebolt indicated the retail value is estimated between 580-700 million and employs over 9,000 people in Michigan. “We are different than a lot of retailers because we are not just losing 4-6 weeks of income; we are losing an entire year. The repercussions of this could be catastrophic to the greenhouse industry”, said Chad Christians.
Michigan’s Farm Bureau has been trying to work with Whitmer to open the garden centers back up but so far no luck.
Prohibiting garden centers and plant nurseries from operating at their peak time is as bad as other items banned by Whitmer: Her order also prohibits the sale of carpeting, flooring, furniture, and paint. It also blocks Michiganders from using motorboats and vacation properties.