JoAnn Chumley

JoAnn Chumley

Click here for Chumley’s Your Story from earlier in the pandemic.

“We were in the process of selling the business, but we had to take it off the market to basically keep it alive during the pandemic.”

“I was very blessed. We eventually got to work out of the back because we were deemed essential since we service funerals. We have a gift store in front, everything from clothing to candles to jewelry, home decor things. We were closed for a while during the pandemic since people couldn’t come to the store.”

“But I ordered my flowers, and we were still able to deliver. We just made do with what we had.”

“The first year was quiet. One of the biggest things for us was losing the funerals. People didn’t have the visitations or the ceremonies anymore because they would just do it privately.”

“Sales definitely weren’t as high as before we closed. No one could really do much for Easter or Christmas, either.”

“We didn’t buy or sell much that first Christmas. I had a lot in storage, so it worked out. A lot of the churches cut their flower orders back for Easter baskets. I feel for them. We tried to work with so many people and help them out. I even lowered the price a little bit for good customers. That’s our business.”

“The government didn’t help us much other than making you apply for grants. The money that we lost, you can never get that back. It’s a tough line because some say there are going to be cost, but who pays?”

“We could have applied for more grants, but I don’t know. We’re not that type of people. I did once at the very beginning, but the second time we didn’t. Some stores in town closed during COVID, but eventually opened again.”

“When they were closed during the pandemic, the owners pushed people to buy gift certificates at restaurants since they were all dead. That was a good initiative from the Chamber that helped. The beauty shop in the nail shop, they had to close but they came back and opened again.”

“People don’t realize but it’s a domino effect. We do work special events for some of the local schools for prom and graduation. Schools had to cut back because of losses. I didn’t have prom sales coming in at all two years ago.”

“Then the next year, the school couldn’t do it, but a bunch of parents ended up throwing one. The students couldn’t dress up like they would normally but that was great.”

“I started bringing employees back one-by-one. We have about nine employees. I mean their hours are not like before. But, I try to get them working as much as I can.”

“Now there are people downtown wearing masks and those people shop.”

“We’ve also had a couple of new places so that’s good for downtown.”

“The shutdowns definitely hurt the city in taxes. When people don’t spend money at local businesses, towns are losing money that would have been taxable.”

“I tried to buy silk flowers and gift items for this past Christmas, but they were on boats stuck out in the Pacific Ocean, and I couldn’t get them. If I need flowers for Christmas, they’re no good arriving in February. I had to cancel more orders.”

“However, Valentine’s Day was great this year, too. We were surprised. We’re well-known, but we got a lot of phone orders. People were willing to spend money. That was good.”

“My husband and I had got COVID. He had the shots, but he got it anyway on Dec. 19. It was touch-and-go for the first five days. He’s home now so we were lucky.”

“I realized I need to retire to enjoy time with my husband. Now I have the business back up on the market. I think it’s finally in good enough shape that I could sell it.”

JoAnn Chumley
Owner, All Occasions Flowers & Gifts
Jacksonville, Illinois

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