Amy Muckey’s main goal in life is to make people smile.
She does that by creating beautiful flower arrangements for birthdays, holidays, proms and any other special occasion.
When Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 19, her flower shop — Steins Flowers in Shillington — did not make the cut. Muckey knew it was going to hurt. She did not realize it was going to hurt so much.
“I was really bummed,” Muckey said. “I don't think I could have mentally handled riding it out.”
Muckey applied for a waiver to reopen her business through the Department of Community and Economic Development, but she was denied.
“I was mad,” she said. “So, I reapplied and I was accepted.”
She received her waiver the Thursday before Easter. In her case to the state, Muckey said she viewed flower shops as essential because they bring joy and happiness to people in their time of need.
She also added that her store would be closed to the public, she would be the only one in the store, vases and baskets would be sanitized and she would do contactless pickup and delivery.
“I’m happy to be back and sort of functioning,” Muckey said. “It’s really quiet besides funeral work, which is really sad.”
What surprised Muckey was that she received several orders for administrative professionals day on Wednesday, even though a majority of people are working from home.
“It’s great,” Muckey said. “(Wednesday) is my busiest day this week because of admin day. It’s crazy. I’m so happy. I feel like I'm back to normal.”
While it felt like the same old grind on Tuesday and Wednesday, Muckey did not expect it to last.
“If I come in here and have three or four deliveries, I'm happy,” she said. “It’s more than when I was closed for three weeks.”
The thought to stay closed and ride out the pandemic never crossed Muckey’s mind. She would have applied for the waiver a third time if she needed to.
“I missed the interaction with my customers,” Muckey said. “I missed making people happy. It’s so fun when the phone rings, people are so excited, they get so happy.”
She is glad to be back and enjoys the social-distance chats in the alley behind her shop.
“It’s so cute,” Muckey said. “People pull up and I have my door open and they stop and talk.
“I had so many customers call and leave messages on my answering machine. I get the most wonderful messages of encouragement.”
Muckey knew her business was going to take a big hit when the COVID-19 pandemic started to sweep across the state.
Right now is the time when her business is typically thriving as Easter, proms, Mother’s Day, graduations and weddings dominate April and May.
Most of those events have been canceled as well as the weekly church services where she provides flowers.
Muckey applied for and was approved for the federal government’s paycheck protection program. A small business loan, that if used to pay wages for employees, does not have to be paid back.
Muckey said the money will help pay her employee, rent and utilities for two months.
“It won’t help with everything, but it’ll ease the burden,” said. “It made me breathe a sigh of relief.
“We will see what’s in store for Mother's Day,” she said.