It was a normal business day on Nov. 12 for Andrew Price and the team at Langdon’s Flowers, a well-known Ottawa store that opened in 1975. They closed the shop that night, leaving with a warm goodbye.
“It is a quiet and easy-going job,” said Price, who has been working at the shop for a year and a half.
The next day, Price arrived around 8:30 a.m., expecting to have a regular working day, but he found the two front doors’ glass windows shattered, paint smeared on the floor, walls sprayed with paint, and jars of jam smashed. Cash, iPads, and other items were stolen. The neat flower shop was turned upside down.
“It was clear that they took some time to really make a mess. We never understood why,” said Pavel Bogdanov, the owner of Langdon’s Flowers and other flower and gifting companies.
“We are a flower shop. We do not have enemies. Our primary goal is to help people on their occasions.”
The shop closed for three weeks for repairs. It reopened on Dec. 4. The total cost of revenue lost, repairs, salaries, and rent reached about $110,000, Bogdanov said.
Ottawa Police said in a statement that the shop has close ties to the Jewish communities, but there is no indication that the incident was hate-motivated.
Bogdanov is not Jewish, nor engaged in politics. He said he has many loyal customers, including Jewish ones, but he doubts the store was targeted for that reason.
“Vandals are either a bunch of kids who want to have fun, or somebody tried to leave a mark,” he said.
Last week, Bogdanov received an email from a detective notifying him the case is closed with no leads.
When Bogdanov took over the shop from the Langdon family in May 2022, he made it the centre of a multi-vendor business named Givopoly, where customers can find a variety of gifting products from 50 different local businesses in one place.
“I always love the idea of being able to be part of the community, give back to the community, and grow with the community,” Bogdanov said. But when the incident happened, he carried the whole loss.
“I buy directly from the in-store vendors. Whatever was damaged during the break-in I had to swallow it,” he said.
“For example, one company brought me 50 jars of jam, I bought that upfront.”
Some vendors put their products in the shop, and others have them online.
Bogdanov said the idea of having a collective business model for a local community is to stay strong during hardship, taking a lesson from the impact of the pandemic on small businesses. He aims to promote the business to a national model in 2024, but his optimism comes with caution.
“The cost of operation is higher, the cost of labour is higher, and the cost of production is higher. At the same time, the consumers have less disposable income,” he said. “Add to that the cost of living and cost of groceries.”
Canada’s annual inflation rate fell to 3.1 per cent in October from 3.8 per cent in September, according to Statistics Canada, but it is still up from the Bank of Canada’s two per cent target.
Small businesses, those with 1 to 99 employees, are considered to be major contributors to the Canadian economy. In 2022, businesses comprised 98% of all employer businesses in Canada.
Bogdanov said he plans to add 30 local vendors to his platforms in the next four months.
“I believe, in 2024, the key to success will be building up a tight community relationship so local businesses could thrive together, grow together, and share our experiences to have a better result.”
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