Valdosta State's small business center helps Twin Creek Flowers rebound

Posted at 5:36 PM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 17:36:59-04

HAHIRA, Ga. (WTXL) — In south Georgia, a resource for small businesses is giving them the opportunity, encouragement, and the tools they need to Rebound.

The fields at Twin Creek Flowers in Hahira were alive and blooming in March with snapdragons, larkspur, and sunflowers.

Then the pandemic hit.

"We shredded flowers by the thousands," said Vicki Cooper, a co-owner of Twin Creek Flowers. "It was just heartbreaking."

Everything shut down.

"All the florists closed up and they were our only income stream," said John Cooper, a co-owner of Twin Creek Flowers.

"The numbers didn't look good for small businesses," said Alyssa Foskey, a business consultant with the Small Business Development Center at Valdosta State University.

Twin Creek Flowers nearly lost their business due to COVID-19-related closures. Co-owners Vicki and John Cooper knew they needed to reinvent their business model to survive.

They turned to the Small Business Development Center at Valdosta State University.

"We talk about the industry," Foskey said. "What are you doing now? What's working, and what do you want to do?"

"From the information we gained from the small business development center, we knew the options out there," said Vicki Cooper.

Options like pivoting from the business-to-business market to the business-to-consumer market.

"We knew we could grow the flowers," Vicki Cooper said. "We just didn't know how to get them out there."

"Part of what we got from SBDC was a printout of a 50-mile radius of all the florists and event planners in the region," said John Cooper. "We started mapping that out to do cold calls and mailing."

They also created an online presence, different ways for customers to pay, new signage, and started selling directly to consumers at the Farmers Market.

The result was an improved business plan that is allowing them to not only survive, but thrive during these changing times.

"We went through a window before and now we're going through a big old door," Vicki Cooper said.

The Coopers say they'll never put all their flowers in one basket again when it comes to income streams and that working with the small business development center helped them overcome their fears, gain confidence, and Rebound.

The Small Business Development Center has 17 locations in Georgia and is completely confidential.

They'll answer questions and provide data and assistance to small businesses free of charge.