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Navigating Inflation: Jennifer & Dan McClain say their flower shop has suffered as people focus on necessities

 bunch of pink roses
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Dan and Jennifer McClain say inflation and grocery store flowers have hurt business at their store, Garden Gate Florist.

The soft sound of wind chimes fills Garden Gate Florist, a flower and houseplant shop owned and operated for the past five years by Jennifer and Dan McClain. Colorful leaves sprout from every surface, their tendrils unfurling from ceiling shelves and wooden tables.

Business moves along as usual, with customers filtering in and out to choose their arrangements and bouquets. But the couple says it took a while to financially recover from COVID-19 and its dampening of in-person events, as well as the impact of population changes on flower purchasing habits.

“About 60% of our business is funeral work,” Dan said. “The older generation is more traditionally big flower givers for funerals. That population is dwindling.”

And, he said, the trends have shifted toward people saying, “In lieu of flowers, donate to the cancer society."

Meanwhile, inflation has had a more recent impact—not on flower prices, but shipping costs, which in turn affect the shop’s ability to market their blossoms.

“As prices go up, sooner or later you're going to hit a threshold where people are not going to buy things that aren’t a necessity, [like] flowers,” Dan said. “This isn't toilet paper, water, milk, things like that.”

Hear from Jennifer & Dan McClain

The couple has lived in Tyrone for 26 years, and they’ve noticed a drop in the number of “mom and pop” stores around town—even floral shops, of which there used to be three in the area. Now, Jennifer said, the convenience of ordering flowers on Amazon or picking them up at Walmart poses a threat to stores like hers, which focus on customer experience and product quality.

Still, she has no plans to stop anytime soon.

“I love flowers,” Jennifer said. “And I especially love when people come in and… just talk to me about the plants, because I love talking about plants.”

Read the rest of the profiles of Tyrone area residents Navigating Inflation.

Lilly Riddle is a student reporter with the News Lab at Penn State.