A gift of spring's beauty

Sayles Livingston Design creates, gives away over 3,000 bouquets in midst of pandemic

Kristen Ray
Posted 4/9/20

For those lucky enough to be driving past Sayles Livingston Design in Tiverton over the last two weeks, they would have stumbled upon the impressive floral display showcased outside its storefront. …

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A gift of spring's beauty

Sayles Livingston Design creates, gives away over 3,000 bouquets in midst of pandemic

Posted

For those lucky enough to be driving past Sayles Livingston Design in Tiverton over the last two weeks, they would have stumbled upon the impressive floral display showcased outside its storefront. Dozens of roses and lilies, chrysanthemums and Gerber daisies were seen poking out of buckets spread out across the front lawn. Perched on a tabletop was a small, folding chalkboard encouraging people to take a flower and give a flower – to ‘share the love,’ as the sign read.

The pop-up event came in the days following Gov. Charlie Baker’s March 23 announcement that all non-essential businesses in Massachusetts would have to close, the latest effort to curtail spread of the coronavirus. That same day, owner Sayles Livingston got a call from one of their partners, Fall River Florist, asking them to please take and do something with some of their stock. Two truckloads later, Ms. Livingston had enough flowers for her and her staff to create over 3,000 bouquets.

A week later, they had all been given away.

“So many people were so incredibly grateful and sort of spreading flowers all over the area,” Ms. Livingston said.

It was in the midst of hosting that pop-up that Gov. Gina Raimondo issued a similar order in Rhode Island, asking all non-critical retail businesses to shut down their physical establishments, effective March 30.

“In Rhode Island, florists are at the top of that list,” Ms. Livingston said.

Even before that announcement was made, Sayles had already been significantly impacted by the pandemic, as all of their events were canceled through May, some even trickling into June. Now with this new order, Ms. Livingston is prevented from even allowing Sayles to be open for deliveries.

“I feel like, if the governor is saying ‘we really want people to just stay home unless it’s essential to come to work,’ it’s pretty impossible to ask your employees to come in to do flowers,” Ms. Livingston said.

That being said, Ms. Livingston said she hopes to bring her staff back soon as she works to “ramp up the retail side of the business.” But it will be interesting to see the overall impact the pandemic will have on all the local seasonal businesses, many of whom were already without an income for several months and were just about to kick-off their seasons once again.

“In this area, that’s going to put so many people out of work, permanently,” Ms. Livingston said.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.