Blomidon Nurseries

Written by the Symplicity team

Maritime Resilience is a series of stories on how local organizations are adapting to COVID-19.

Pandemic prompts Blomidon Nurseries to fast-track retail improvements, build online business.

Not all organizations suffered setbacks when the COVID-19 virus hit Canada. For Wolfville-based Blomidon Nurseries, one of the best-known nurseries in the Maritime region, the pandemic was an opportunity to build up their online consumer business and pursue new ways to reach customers in more markets.

When the pandemic started, the team at Blomidon Nurseries weren’t sure what to expect. The seasonal business had not yet started, but they were in full production mode, growing the 40,000+ annuals and more than 700 varieties of perennials, plus shrubs and trees and ordering the yard and garden tools, materials and other products they would need for their wholesale and consumer customers. As public health restrictions came into effect, general manager Andrew Palmer worried about how business restrictions would affect revenue.

“We had already started investing heavily in our production processes. When the state of emergency was declared, the Province deemed agriculture an essential business, so Blomidon was able to continue operating as usual. That was a huge relief, but it presented some new challenges,” Palmer said.

The first priority was to adapt the work environment to keep employees safe. Palmer says Blomidon introduced new sanitation processes and established social distancing rules right away. The 35-person team received training and there were regular check-ins to ensure processes were running smoothly.

As the retail season kicked off in April, Blomidon Nurseries saw a lot more interest from customers looking to plant their own flower and vegetable gardens. They couldn’t keep up with the constant stream of information requests via social media and phone. 

The team also realized they had no way to deliver the products to customers who could no longer travel to the nursery. Customer demand was high, but the walk-in store was no longer the best retail option.

“We realized we had to do a better job of communicating with our retail customers on all platforms – online, social media, phone and delivery,” Palmer explained. “The demand was there but we had to find new channels to serve customers and get products into their hands.”
Blomidon improved its website to offer online inquiries and orders, then created a staffed order desk to field calls and process online orders. They also worked to build a retail delivery system to complement the existing wholesale delivery program. 

Since the website launched the team at Blomidon has been able to keep up with the steady stream of retail inquiries and orders. Deliveries are happening all over the region. Palmer says they’re adapting as they go to make improvements to better serve customers and streamline their systems.

All the things we as a team had discussed or contemplated in the past, we were able to implement quickly in response to the pandemic,” Palmer said. “If there’s one lesson we’ve learned it’s do not wait for a crisis to improve your operations. Continually plan for improvements, then when a crisis hits, you’ll be ready.”
Palmer reflects that the pandemic brought his team together to work toward a common goal. It’s that alignment that enabled them to make quick decisions, implement improvements effectively and work toward the desired result, a happy customer.

Blomidon Nurseries has experts at the ready for gardening advice, online orders, delivery and more.

Visit their website or social media to see what they have to offer.

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