Samoa’s Market Florists Happy to be Back in Business

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Taamaletoa Vaitoelau Patea is Samoa's oldest and possibly fittest, florist.

 

Samoa’s informal sector florists who had taken a hit during the first 10 weeks of Samoa’s Covid-19 State of Emergency period are happy to have their Saturday trading almost back to pre-lockdown levels with the opening of Sunday church services.

The row of florists along the front of the Savalalo market were seen back in full swing on Saturday; their clients being those assigned to “teu falesa” or church cleaning and flower duties.

Taamaletoa Vaitoelau Patea from Falealili is happy to be back in business

Amongst the florists at Savalalo market is 87 year old Taamaletoa Vaitoelau of Piu, seen happily cutting his flowers for an order that was placed by one of his regular clients.

“People come in on Friday and place their orders. They pre-pay and tell us what they want and what their color theme is..then just pick up on Saturday”.

His daughter and his wife work alongside him at the market flower stall and say Taamaletoa keeps fit and healthy by working the land and putting together flower arrangements.

Taamaletoa’s daughter works alongside her father in the family business.

When first asked how old Taamaletoa was, his daughter responded, 75, but the father of 10 leans in and says, “No that’s not my real age… I was made to bring my age down when documentations were prepared for my trip to New Zealand in 1970…but I was born in April 1933”.

“O a’u sa faalaikiki o’u kausaga e fai ai ou pepa mo Giu Sila, ae o lo’u kausaga fagau o Apelila 1933”.

All florist stall owners along their designated row at the front corner of Savalalo Market shared their joy at the bounce back of economic activity.

Their arrangements were mostly a standardised market economy $20 tala, that could be negotiated down to $15 if you purchased more tha one. The largest arrangements were between $50 and $60 tala.

The larger arrangements are sold for $50 tala each.

“It was hard during lockdown but we are so glad to be back; the flow has been steady since Mother’s  Day weekend”.

Small Micro Enterprise (SMEs) florists grow all their flowers locally and fall under the informal sector exemption that is applied to all who are able to earn a living off the land and ocean.

“It’s been steady since Mother’s Day weekend”.

Another florist added, “The return of Sunday worship has made a big difference. It’s so good to be busy again, it was getting really boring because of how slow it was”.

Taamaletoa Vaitoelau Patea is Samoa’s oldest and possibly fittest, florist.

Sina Retzlaff