With no biz, cost of maintenance crushed them
Plant nurseries in Bengaluru are struggling to revive from pandemic-inflicted losses. The losses were huge and prompted many to leave the business, say nursery owners.
Puttaswamy, the owner of Garden Care nursery, informed The Observer: “During the pandemic, like any other business, we suffered too. But for us, it was even worse because there is no way we could have reached our customers. There was no business at all for nearly five months. Many small nursery owners had to leave the business. Speaking of my business, it somehow survived.”
Sales are better than they were during the lockdown, he added, but are nowhere near the pre-pandemic levels. “The sales are 50 percent less than what we had before the pandemic.”
M. Devappa, who owns M. Devappa and Sons nursery, said that due to recurring losses, he had to lay off some of his employees. “Things were very bad for a few months. I started to think of alternative business options. I had to cut salaries and even ask some of my employees to leave.”
Sales have picked up as the city has few Covid cases and people have started going back to old habits like gardening. “ Although sales are not very good and nowhere near the pre-pandemic level, we are still hoping that they will increase post this rainy season,” he added.
Bibdipla Das, who runs The Green Grower nursery, said nurseries had to bear more losses because they had to maintain and keep the plants alive. “Sales were a part of the reason why we were facing losses; but on top of that, we had to pay rent to store the plants. We survived mainly on our savings. Many of our plants were damaged during the lockdown. Taking care of the plants was a challenge. We paid rent of the shop, but there was no business for more than three months,” he shared.
They even tried to take up online orders and deliver goods, but that was of no help. “Towards the latter half of the pandemic, however, we had some orders for landscaping services.”
Owing to massive losses, nurseries were forced to either lay off their employees or reduce their salaries.
Jasmine Kavya, 25, who works in My Dream Garden is one such worker. “The nursery I work for faced a lot of losses. They did find a way to provide services online and through doorstep delivery, but sales weren’t the same as pre-pandemic levels. Our salaries were cut as a result, and we faced a hard time, but now sales are better and our salaries are back to normal,” she said.
Archana Lal, 45, who loves gardening and keeps a variety of plants, said: “The pandemic was a difficult time for every business. I buy a lot of plants, but during the pandemic, it was the last thing on my mind. I took care of my plants and mainly ordered pesticides online. Going to nurseries or hiring gardening services was not safe at that time.”
Many people found gardening therapeutic and started it during the lockdowns. Most purchases were made on the Web, and online nurseries saw an increase in sales. According to a report published by the Deccan Herald, some people turned towards gardening during the extended lockdown. Some nurseries were able to revive because of this.