Online orchid orders for Mother’s Day explode

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Jakki Nelson, helping Neill and Fely Sams at Orchid Alley in Kapa‘a, prepares to pack a live, flowering orchid for safe delivery Monday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Fely Sams of Orchid Alley double-checks the shipping labels of live plants being shipped Monday from Kapa‘a.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Javier Cal finds a live orchid for his mother, Emma Cal of Texas, Monday at Orchid Alley in Kapa‘a.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    UPS agent Kalapaki Ellis loads up a portion of live orchids going out Monday as Dionisia Tuscano verifies shipping labels at Orchid Alley in Kapa‘a.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    From left, Jakki Nelson, Fely Sams, Neill Sams and Dionisia Tuscano of Orchid Alley ‘ohana take a break while waiting on the arrival of the United Parcel Service pickup Monday afternoon in Kapa‘a.

Mother’s Day has traditionally been one of the busiest days for shipping live flowering orchids to the mainland, said Neill Sams of Orchid Alley.

Monday, Sams saw that number skyrocket due to the internet and email.

“This is crazy,” Sams said. “We have more orders than we’ve ever had. And the orders don’t stop. The internet is blowing up with orders.”

Monday was the first day to ship live, flowering orchids to the mainland to arrive in time for Mother’s Day this Sunday.

“The email is exploding,” said Fely Sams while juggling orders with customers walking in to order and customers who are worried about getting flowers delivered locally.

“Monday and Tuesday are for orders to the mainland. Monday orders are for the East Coast, Tuesday is for the West Coast and some neighbor islands. Wednesday is the final day for shipping to get there in time for Mother’s Day.”

But it doesn’t end there, because from Thursday, the Sams worry about getting deliveries out locally for Mother’s Day.

Neill Sams said the more-popular requests this year are for orchids that have fragrances.

“The orchids with the chocolate fragrance is already sold out,” Neill Sams said. “It doesn’t help when the supply is not that plentiful, too. The second popular choice is the orchid that feature the fragrance of coconut.”

Fely Sams pointed out that, this year, they have a coconut-fragrance orchid that was developed by local orchid grower Alan Yamada.

“It even has his name on the identifying plate,” Fely Sams said. “It’s different because the color is on the yellow side compared with the rust color of the original coconut orchid. But in addition to the orchids with fragrances, there are a lot of the phalaenopsis (they are very durable in terms of shelf life), and there are some nice nobiles available, too. There’re a lot to choose from, just not enough time — especially if you’re attempting to get it to the mainland by Mother’s Day.”

The demand for orchids for Mother’s Day has always been there.

“I don’t know if it’s the COVID-19 or not,” Fely Sams said. “But it appears that everyone is doing a lot more shopping online, which explains why the email and internet is going crazy. But we’ll get through this, just like we’ve done all these years.”

To accommodate the added volume, Fely and Neill Sams brought in volunteers Jakki Nelson and Fely’s sister, Dionisia Tuscano, of California, to help pack and process orders.

“Dionisia was planning on retiring next year,” Fely Sams said. “But they closed the building where she worked. That means she had to adjust her plan and retire a year earlier. At least she can come and help.”

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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