Radebaugh – Three Flats of Pansies, Two Bags of Soil, and a Bottle of Whiskey
Radebaugh Florist & Greenhouses has been serving the Baltimore community since 1924, providing arrangements for weddings, funerals, graduations, and holidays alike. Like many other small, locally owned businesses, their operations have been impacted greatly by the COVID-19 pandemic that hit the U.S. in early spring. Radebaugh has been a long-time client of PSA, and recently, we had the opportunity to speak with fourth generation family owner, Kaitlin Radebaugh, about how they have adapted and remained operational in these trying times. Their flexibility, adaptability, and creativity are an inspiration, and embody the grit and dedication small business owners and employees apply to their craft and keeping our local economies strong. Want to take a page from their book? Read on for lessons learned during their COVID-19 business journey.
Adaptability is key
Once the pandemic hit the U.S., Radebaugh’s florist shop in Towson, Maryland closed entirely, and the greenhouse closed to all walk-in traffic, leaving them with online capabilities only. While the floral side of the business was already set up for online ordering and delivery, getting all of the greenhouse items up on the website was a big, time-consuming task and learning curve.
In late April, the greenhouse also began providing curbside pickup, which involved building new infrastructures for success, such as a dedicated phone number for pickups and numbered parking spaces.
With everyone being at home, there was a big desire for gardening. If Kaitlin and her team hadn’t been willing to organize and execute a new sales strategy for their greenhouse items via online and curbside platforms, the sales for in-demand items vital to keeping the business open, such as mulch and spring annuals, would have been lost.
Last summer, Radebaugh received their liquor license—a process that took about two years from start to finish. Kaitlin shared, “We knew this was something we needed to do as far as growth, and it’s provided a new avenue for us and a better gifting experience for customers.” Her foresight and investment in her business’ growth during stable times allowed Radebaugh to expand deliveries to gift crates with wine, beer, and gourmet foods in addition to flowers. With the stay-at-home order in effect during spring holidays, Radebaugh saw an uptick in customers sending gifts such as their crates in lieu of in-person visits.
As for those folks who wanted to test their green thumb while staying at home, Kaitlin shared that many of the orders for deliveries in March and April looked something like three flats of pansies, two bags of soil, and a bottle of whiskey!
Get your hands dirty and be creative
Radebaugh’s Mother’s Day sales blew their successful Easter sales numbers out of the water, which meant they were going through their inventory extremely quickly with a small staff. With the arrangements they advertised sold out, they had to quickly pull things down from the website, make new arrangements on the fly, and post those instead in order to keep up.
All of Radebaugh’s arrangements are made by hand, and right now, there is a small group working together six days a week. Kaitlin shared that as a result of working with a minimal staff, she has been included on the design floor—a job she does not usually execute. “I learned more by being in the mix and answering more sales calls than I have in years. It was like being an undercover boss. I feel closer to my employees than I ever have been,” she stated. In an attempt to boost morale and break up the monotony on the floor, Kaitlin introduced theme days for her team, which have been successful in adding fun and humor into the workplace at a time when so many things are uncertain.
Now, with the partial reopening of many business in Maryland, Kaitlin and her team are focused on navigating each day as it comes. Radebaugh is forging ahead with the small staff they are able to safely maintain in their small work environment. With their positive attitudes, hard work, and creative solutions, the Radebaugh team is coming out on the other side of this crisis stronger than before, both in their operational capabilities and in their company culture. At this point, they have been able to open both the florist shop and the greenhouse for walk-in traffic at a limited capacity and are continuing to work through the challenges presented with the safety guidelines surrounding a full re-opening.
PSA is proud to partner with and support our small business clients, and in turn, our community. Stay safe, stay strong, and support your local economy. For resources regarding reopening your business in light of COVID-19 and other information, check out our COVID-19 Business Resources.