Published Together: The benefits of flowers for Michiganders' quality of life

Bing and Jean Goei are owners of Eastern Floral and the Goei Center. Both are children of immigrants. They are blessed with five children and 17 grandchildren. Bing has been an entrepreneur all of his life. He has started several businesses and is currently the CEO of Eastern Floral. Bing is actively involved as a Board Member of the West Michigan Asian American Association and is the Chairperson of the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce. This essay is his own and does not reflect the views of Rapid Growth Media or its parent company, Issue Media Group.
After more than three decades of living here in West Michigan, one of the more fascinating aspects is that if you make yourself available to the community via the many community-level projects happening here you will meet others who, like you, share a passion for the betterment of our community.

And what always mystifies my friends in other cities is how our locals who, while standing firm within their political party lines, do roll up their sleeves to join alongside others, thus allowing us time to talk as we align our talents to serve our community.

One such person in my life is Bing Goei of Eastern Floral who over the years (and many breakfasts) has shared much of his personal path to becoming the person he is today. Bing has not just been sharing his journey through West Michigan, he also has been listening, too. 

So today for our latest "Published Together" series that Rapid Growth started under COVID-19, we decided to check in with Bing as his beloved local floral shops (along with many other businesses) were shuttered under the first two executive orders. 
Our goal here is not to debate our Governor, who I believe we should be able to agree is facing one of the greatest challenges ever to our state as a silent and very deadly virus runs primarily unchecked due to a lack of testing throughout our state.

Rather, we seek via this guest op-ed to shine a light on how one of our local business leaders through their association with others within their industry, has banded together to create solutions under the health guidelines set forth by our government and scientists to create safe ways to open their workplaces. 

On Saturday, their association will meet to discuss a four-point plan that Bing believes will ensure their goals of the safety of their workers as well as our city's residents and in a way is smart, too. 

One last item, I want to single out the Michigan Senate for creating a website where voices from our business owners as well as employees can be captured via their easy-to-use “Safe Behavior for Safe Workplaces” survey. This approach of welcoming voices to the table via its bipartisan Senate workgroup gives me hope that the rancor of Federal and State can be diminished within this public emergency moment as we, who have labored locally together at the city and county levels, can share insights and hopefully see what many of us have enjoyed locally when we have people willing to set aside differences to hear each other's story of their journey. 

At this moment and given the complexities of our economy, we need to keep listening to our members whether they are the employers or the laborers who often are our front lines people that we so desperately need to remain healthy as well as safely protected by our leaders. 

The Future Needs All of Us,

Tommy Allen, Publisher 

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The Benefits of Flowers For the Quality of Life of Michiganders

A great deal of discussion has occurred about the sustainability of the retail floral industry and its more than 500-plus florists across our wonderful state during the COVID-19 crisis. Florists want to join other businesses, large and small, in this fight. As small businesses, we can do so effectively when we are able to operate our businesses. To sell and deliver the same products that big businesses are permitted to sell and deliver, no more, no less.

Florists across Michigan want to be able to sell and deliver our flowers, our bedding plants, our hanging baskets, our vegetable plants, our garden center products and our blooming plants. We are aware that national floral companies, such as Pro-Flowers, are shipping floral products into Michigan because they are being delivered by FedEx and Amazon. As your 500-plus professional retail florists, we only ask to be treated equitably.

One area of discussion that has been left out of our discussion are the benefits flowers can bring to our mental health. 
Dr. Jeannette Haviland-Jones, PhD, Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University and lead researcher on The Emotional Impact of Flowers Study has found that “nature provides us with a simple way to improve emotional health – flowers.” She continued,

“The presence of flowers triggers happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction and affects social behavior in a positive manner far beyond what is normally believed.”

The team of researchers also determined from this study, which took ten months, that flowers have an immediate impact on happiness. Specifically, participants reported feeling less depressed, anxious, and agitated after receiving flowers, and demonstrated a higher sense of enjoyment and life satisfaction.

The research also showed that all participants, in every age group, expressed excitement when receiving flowers. Reactions included surprise, genuine happiness and gratitude.

During this difficult time, we must seek every solution which will help our Michigan residents overcome their stresses and anxieties. We should trust our researchers and scientists and not dismiss their scientific studies that could help Michigan residents during these stressful times. The scientific evidence is here – FLOWERS have an immediate impact on our happiness and positively affect our social behavior. Persons receiving flowers feel less anxious, agitated and depressed according to this study and others.

Based on recent statements from the Governor, she is allowing for the sale of “plants and flowers” from businesses that have less than 50,000 sq.ft. Eastern Floral matches those requirements and will have hanging baskets, patio pots, and other varieties of plants and flowers available for curbside pickups and non-contact deliveries starting May 1.

In its commitment to support the fight against the coronavirus, the Great Lakes Floral Association (GLFA) will submit to the Michigan Senate Bi-Partisan work group, MIsafeworkplaces, a business plan that is Low Risk and safe to its employees and its customers. A few important steps that GLFA is committed to doing are:
  • Flower shops will only accept orders online or via telephone.
  • All deliveries will be made as a non-contact delivery. Deliveries will be left at the front door/porch and the recipient will be asked to come and pick up the arrangement.
  • All shops will remain close to the general public until further notice.
At Eastern Floral, we have taken additional steps to ensure the safety of our employees and the wellbeing of our important customers. I will be bringing these recommendations to GLFA members on a ZOOM Town Hall Meeting to be held this Saturday.
 At Eastern Floral, we are adding the following safety measures:
  • All employees will be required to answer three questions
    1. Are you experiencing shortness of breath?
    2. Are you experiencing coughing spells?
    3. Is your temperature over 100 degrees?
A “Yes” answer to any of these three questions, the employee will be asked to go home and call their doctor.
  • All employees will be required to have their temperature taken before clocking in and after their shift ends. 
  • All employees will be provided with a mask, gloves, and hand sanitizers.
  • Eastern Floral will discourage but not eliminate curbside pickups.
  • Eastern Floral believes that it is safer to have one of its drivers deliver 20 orders versus having 20 individuals driving to pick up their individual orders. This delivery process will also meet one of the goals set by Governor Whitmer of reducing the number of drivers on Michigan roads.
We believe that these steps will create a Low Risk business model that can be duplicated in other small businesses and allow some of our businesses to provide necessary products to Michiganders. 

As your Professional Florists of Michigan, we are ready to serve you and deliver genuine happiness with beautiful professionally designed arrangements and we can do this in a safe and responsible manner with minimal risk.

Bing Goei, Eastern Floral, Grand Rapids
Jerome Raska, Blumz…by JR Designs, Detroit / Ferndale
Paul Viviano , Viviano Flowers, St.Clair Shores
Rod Crittenden, Great Lakes Floral, Association Lansing
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