Shop Local: How a Dagenham florist shop opened during the recession is surviving the pandemic

Bespoke Flowers owner Kim Ratcliff. Picture: Bespoke Flowers

Bespoke Flowers owner Kim Ratcliff. Picture: Bespoke Flowers - Credit: Archant

Bespoke Flowers grew from the recession 12 years ago and its owners believe the Dagenham florist can blossom again after the pandemic.

Bespoke Flowers at 628 Rainham Road South, Dagenham. Picture: Bespoke Flowers

Bespoke Flowers at 628 Rainham Road South, Dagenham. Picture: Bespoke Flowers - Credit: Archant

Oliver and Kim Ratcliff – who live above the Rainham Road South shop they opened in 2008 – have had to “say no to more people” as they scaled down in response to the challenges of lockdowns, Covid-19 restrictions and Kim needing to shield.

Oliver estimated about 60pc of their sales are from walk-in customers – with many of them coming in from the West and Coe funeral directors next door.

However, funerals and weddings have had far fewer attendees this year.

Now, lockdown means sales are limited to delivery orders again.

A recent selection of bouquets at Bespoke Flowers, which is closed during the lockdown but accepting delivery orders. Picture...

A recent selection of bouquets at Bespoke Flowers, which is closed during the lockdown but accepting delivery orders. Picture: Bespoke Flowers - Credit: Archant


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The couple had two employees until the first lockdown, but with Kim classed as vulnerable, they weren’t able to continue working in the shop.

Oliver said Mother’s Day, around that time, was “the worst we’ve had” in almost 13 years.

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With the pandemic looming, they decided to only take orders, so didn’t have many other flowers in the shop on the day.

Oliver said: “This Christmas we just can’t offer the same as we have done for the last 12 years because it will only be Kim and me.

Shop Local

Shop Local - Credit: Archant

“Even if I’m out delivering, there’s usually three people here.”

He added the shop will likely close over Valentine’s Day, too, unless Kim can get the Covid-19 vaccine, as they won’t cope with demand.

“For Valentine’s Day, we probably work 15-hour days a week before and we can’t do that with just two people,” Oliver said.

They’ve also contended with supply shortages – leading to higher wholesale prices – after some growers stopped producing during the first lockdown.

Before the pandemic, Oliver said the shop was so busy it could buy fresh stock most days, but now many flowers are wasted because those that are surplus to orders don’t get sold.

“I think we’ve thrown more flowers away this month than we have done in the last year, on a consistent basis, unfortunately, because it just doesn’t get used,” he said. “You have to buy them in fives, 10s or 20 – that’s how it comes.”

Check out what Bespoke Flowers has to offer on its website and social media pages on Facebook and Instagram.

Orders should be placed by phone on 020 8984 7557.

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