During the past 15 years, Alyssa Von Guilder (pictured) has built Apotheca into a successful multi-faceted business with a floral shop that specializes in designing flower arrangements for weddings, a cafe and gift shop—all of which faced significant challenges when COVID-19 arrived last spring.
“Early on, we brainstormed ideas how we could create ways that we could still build that connection and still celebrate our customers even though they are not coming into our space,” says Von Guilder, founder and CEO. She quickly changed her business model.
One major challenge for Apotheca, which is housed inside the transformed Goffstown Train Station and employs 15 people, is weddings have become its largest source of income, bringing in $350,000 per year. When the pandemic hit, weddings were rescheduled. But to Von Guilder’s surprise, Apotheca actually saw an increase in weddings and events this year, though on a much smaller scale.
“I had to start thinking about how I could replace that revenue. We started experimenting with shipping flowers, and after many trials and errors, we figured out the right relationships to make shipping flowers possible,” Von Guilder says.
Apotheca now ships flowers nationwide.
Apotheca introduced curbside pick-ups and outdoor sales during the lockdown. “The very first one, I cried off-and-on all day because we had a line of customers that just did not dwindle for three hours. And it was hot out, and people stood in line in the heat. I sent someone to get ice cream pops and bottles of seltzer to give to people as they were waiting in line,” Von Guilder says.
“We tried to celebrate connection and brighten days when we could no longer invite them in,” she says. “We have customers that stayed connected with us and that actively purchased consistently, especially when we were in lockdown, when businesses were not open. On a weekly basis, customers would place orders with us, and I know it was intentional, because they wanted to support us.”
It is such support from its customers that has carried Apotheca through the pandemic so far. “We’re a million-dollar business, and because of what we have been able to replace revenue streams with, we should still be very close if not surpassing [in 2020] what we did [in 2019], even with COVID.”
For more information, visit apothecaflowershoppe.com.
By Lillian Noble of the Young Reporters Project, a partnership between Business NH Magazine and University of NH at Manchester.