Penang florists toy with idea of selling blooms online

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 04 Aug 2020

Floral delight: Basheer showing a flower garland to friends Yeap Jia Ee (centre) and Lee Mei Chin at the stall in George Town.

GEORGE TOWN: Florists along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling here are toying with the idea of selling fresh flowers and garlands online as a backup plan after being forced to close for about three months due to the movement control order (MCO).

Basheer Ameer Sultan, 41, whose grandfather, the late S.P. Abdul Razak, started the business more than 60 years ago, said the florists at the row of shops did not generate any income as they were closed during the MCO.

“We are now thinking of going online as we want to have some income in the event of another MCO.

“We realised that a lot of businesses switched to selling their products online during the MCO and they had some income at least during those trying times, ” he said.

Basheer said some of his customers were receptive to the idea as they could avoid being stuck in traffic jams and the hot weather by going to town to buy flowers and garlands.

He said some of the florists were also planning to go wholesale to further boost their business.

Believed to be one of the longest surviving florist shops in Penang, Basheer said his late grandfather started the flower shop after arriving here from India.

“He started the shop since there is a temple nearby.

“I have been helping out at the shop since I was seven years old.

“Our customers are made up of tourists and locals of all races.

“Besides selling fresh flowers, we also make garlands and bouquets for weddings, housewarming and other occasions.

“Most people buy garlands to offer to deities for prayers and sometimes during weddings as headbands or hand bouquets, ” he said at the stall on Sunday.

Basheer said that flowers sold at his shop were sourced from Cameron Highlands.

The scent of fragrant flowers lingers when one visits or passes by the row of florist shops with multicoloured roses, chrysanthemums, carnations, baby’s breath, jasmine and pom-poms displayed in pails on the shelves for customers to choose from.

“It takes about 15 minutes to make a pom-pom garland depending on its size.

“As for the small jasmine ring, it usually takes less than a minute to complete, ” he said.

Spotted buying flowers at Basheer’s shop was 27-year-old event planner Kavi Shallhini.

“My parents have been buying fresh flowers from the stall since I was young.

“We come here almost every week to get flowers for prayers at home, ” she said.

Garlands and fresh flowers are normally offered at temple shrines and household altars; and traditional garland making is a skill brought to Penang by Indian immigrants.

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