Fans of Capogna Flowers in Kingsville may be disappointed after the producer shut down its gardening centre to the public.
Owner, Andrew Capogna told BlackburnNews.com government rules during the pandemic are throttling his means to sell the millions of dollars worth of flowers and plants he has been growing the past few months.
Capogna Flowers had been allowing the public inside its facility starting May 1. While numerous measures were in place to ensure social distancing, including a limit on how many customers could be in the greenhouse, complaints to the Ontario Provincial Police prompted him to shut the doors after just three days.
"We're getting different responses from different levels of government," Capogna attempted to explain. "We're just trying to figure it out all out ourselves. We definitely did not get shut down because we did anything wrong in terms of social distancing. It was more a case of should we be open."
(Photo of the inside of the greenhouse at Capogna Flowers in Kingsville, via Facebook)
Entry and exit from the 30,000 square foot operation were limited. Hand sanitizer was available to staff and patrons. Markings were put on the floor to encourage six feet distance between patrons and keep traffic through the aisles moving in one direction.
He said he has been growing his stock for the past couple of months in anticipation of selling it.
"They've deemed our growing operation essential from day one," said Capogna. "If we can not sell what we grow, what was the point of all that?"
When the province announced it would allow garden centres to reopen, it was for curbside service and online sales only. However, Capogna said those sales would not be enough to cover his expenses or deplete the hundreds of thousands of plants he has nurtured.
"We have probably 5,000 varieties of plants on our farm," he said. "People over the course of 100 years have bought plants by seeing them, touching them, smelling them. Very hard to satisfy demand online. People are very particular. It's not sustainable."
Capogna estimates his business earns 75 per cent of its revenues in May and fears unless he can sell his crop, he will lose millions of dollars.
In addition to the online business and curbside, Capogna Flowers also supplies several grocery store chains.