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The Little Flower Shop that Could, Needs Help

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Hi, my name is Sara and I own Sweetpea's, a flower shop, in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood of Toronto.

We have been in business since 2010, carefully and lovingly creating custom floral arrangements for our customers. Our dedication and hard work has earned us the reputation of being one of Toronto’s Best Florists. This is one of the proudest achievements in my life.

We are an eco and socially responsible florist, and a Living Wage employer providing above market wages and health benefits to our team. We have been active members in our community since we opened, supporting Roncy in every way we could.

We have a beautiful location, that brings colour, life and a sense of community to Roncesvalles. Sadly, our lease has not been renewed and we are being forced to leave the place we consider home.

We had only a few months’ notice, which is not enough time to find a new commercial location in this competitive and high-priced market; especially when this was unexpected and unplanned for.

Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to secure a long-term solution. Between the short timeline and rising commercial rents, we struggled to get something that fit our needs and budget. We have been able to find a new temporary location, with only weeks left before we have to move. Although not ideal, we are relieved to find shelter from the storm.

Like any small business, the last few years have been hard. We managed to get through COVID, the lockdowns, supply shortages and all the other struggles, but just as we thought we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, my dad became very ill with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). He went from a strong, independent man, to a quadriplegic, in the ICU on a ventilator within days. Our family was brought to their knees.

Over the last year, we have sold our family home, my sister had to leave her career of 18 years and I nearly lost the shop I had spent the last twelve years building. I took out a significant loan in the late Spring, in effort to keep Sweetpea’s operating, while we took the time to focus on family. All of this was done to ensure my dad was able to recover. Our family has done our best to remain positive and work on rebuilding. My father has regained limited use of his legs, but his arms and hands have not returned. We are facing the reality that life will never return to what it once was. We continue to support each other as best we can. My sister has started working with me at the shop, as we start our own rehabilitation, of sorts. We are rebuilding, the same as my father is.

When we got notice that our lease was not going to be renewed, we simply never saw this coming. We have been good tenants and cared for the building like it was our own. Anyone who walked by would know this by the colourful murals, lush garden, and signature rainbow stairs that had become a staple of the Roncesvalles landscape.

I am doing my best to make the best of things, but the daunting task of relocating has been overwhelming; after an already challenging and tiring journey.

I drained my savings getting through the pandemic, refinanced my home, and exhausted any and all financial support from the government and conventional lenders. That was simply me surviving, let alone having to purchase a cooler, set up a new studio and going through the expense of first/last rent, plus a security deposit for a one year lease. Not only do we have to go through this now, we will again, this time next year. It feels like climbing a mountain, only to see another in the distance.

For decades I have supported community programs, school fairs, local fundraisers, fostered kittens at the shop, helped various charities, supported neighbourhood initiatives and provided everything I can, to give back to the beautiful neighbourhood we call home. I truly believe that Roncy is as special as it is, because of the small businesses on our main street, and the people who support us. Never have I seen an area so willing to stand by the entrepreneurs who risked everything to open restaurants, retail shops, and provide services to their community. It makes Roncy what it is; a small town in the heart of Toronto’s west end.

I am coming to this same community, hat in hand, asking for help.

I can’t survive this move financially. I have gone back and forth on how to make this work, and the sad reality is, I have exhausted my options.

We have found a studio location, but we need to outfit it with a walk-in cooler, sinks and basic shelving for supplies. Knowing this location will be temporary doesn’t make these expenses any smaller or easier to handle. We are repurposing as much as we can from our current space, but there are some things we have to build again.

Please know how torn I have been about this. As a business owner, I don’t know how this will be received, but my hope is, people will know how hard this is, and that the last thing I wanted to do was come to you for help.

If you are able, every bit helps and we are beyond grateful. If you are not comfortable donating here, please support us through ordering flowers, and sharing our story.

Thank you.


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Fundraising team (2)

Sara Jameson
Toronto, ON
Rachel Beattie
Team member

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