LONG ISLAND, NY — The coronavirus crisis has hurt many local businesses across Long Island. However Hometown Flower Co., Long Island’s first and only mobile flower truck, seems to have been made for a situation like this and is looking to support other businesses in the process.
Long Island native Jaclyn Rutigliano, whose grandparents and parents were both florists, and her husband, Marc Iervolino started the business last year. The two, who are the only employees working for their company, buy flowers from local farmers and deliver them all across Long Island. Instead of a storefront, the two run their business out of a 1976 Ford f100 pick up truck nicknamed “Baby Blue.”
Photo taken in April 2019 by Priscila Korb
Their business also consisted of people renting out the truck for events, so with people cancelling or postponing upcoming summer events, this means the business has been taking a bit of a hit in that area.
“That was difficult in the beginning,” Rutigliano said. “Last year, a lot of business was coming through people booking through weddings or renting to trucks or other events, so we were anticipating moving away from the retail side of things based on how the first season went.”
However the coronavirus, their spring season starting earlier this week will mean that the business will be focusing on deliveries and their subscription service. Rutigliano said that “things are insane” this week due to the fact many people are looking to support small businesses now more than ever.
“As soon as COVID hit we immediately crossed our fingers and hoped that people would find us,” she said. “We communicated that our local flower farmers are growing and they need support. We’re doing really well because we’re set up exactly for this. We hand deliver everything with mask and gloves and we source everything locally it’s pretty easy for people.”
In fact, Rutigliano says that they have even received orders from towns they have never been able to “break through” in before.
“For some reason, last year we resonated very well with the South Shore/Suffolk towns and not really anything in Nassau or the North Shore, but we are seeking orders come through from all over long island and the the sentiment is ‘I want to support local business, I love that you guys work with local farmers,'” she said. “There’s really this vibe of wanting to support local.”
With Mother’s Day approaching, Hometown Flower Co.has already received many orders for deliveries during the holiday weekend between May 8 and May 10. In fact, Rutigliano says they have received five times more orders than they did the same time last year.
Photo courtesy of Hometown Flower Co.
“At a time when people are really tightening their belts because of the economy and everyone is out of work, flowers are something that is relatively inexpensive compared to taking mom out for an expensive dinner or gifting jewelry, flowers are quick and easy and bring a little bit of sunshine,” she said.
So what’s the secret to keeping this small business afloat? Rutigliano, who actually previously worked in marketing and public relations, advises other business owners not to underestimate the power of social media as well as partnering with other local businesses.
Hometown Flower Co. has recently partnered with Sail Away Coffee to offer a special bundle for Mother’s Day. She also partnered with North Fork Doughnut Co, Bango Bowls and Coastal Kitchen and Cocktail in Bay Shore for a Mother’s Day Brunch package.
“There’s strength in partnering with like-minded businesses,” Rutigliano said.
Rutigliano says she wants people to know they are still open and ready to serve the community. While weddings have been cancelled, Rutigliano said she still has delivered small bouquets and boutonniere for people who chose to have smaller “quarantine” or “social-distancing” weddings during this time. The business is also booking events for the fall and next year, with the hope that the flower truck season will start sooner rather than later.
“Stay strong, hang in there, we’re here for you to bring a little bit of joy during these times and we’re all in this together and we all have to support each other and the more we can look after our small businesses and help out our community the better,” she said.
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