Holly Tree Florist and Gifts owner Sandy Lance has brought flowers to Agassiz and surrounding communities. Now she needs help as she faces months of recovery time for an upcoming surgery. (Nina Grossman/The Observer)

Agassiz florist asking community for help

Surgery preventing Holly Tree owner Sandy Lance from operating business over summer

Sandy Lance is a private woman who spends most of her time filling orders and arranging bouquets, surrounded by lilies, roses, hydrangeas and peonies.

Lance fulfilled a lifelong dream of owning her own flower shop when she opened Holly Tree Florists and Gifts in Agassiz nearly twenty years ago. The shop – which moved from Cheam Avenue to Pioneer in 2002 – is well-known by locals, as is the aging yellow pickup truck Lance uses to deliver flower orders.

But after nineteen years of bringing floral arrangements and bouquets to her community, the 72-year-old is asking locals for their support.

Right before Mother’s Day, Lance underwent a bilateral femoral endarterectomy surgery – the removal of plaque from the femoral artery. Her recovery time was going to cut into profits during one of the busiest times of the year, so a fellow florist based in Mission, Tami Klassen, started a GoFundMe page to help her.

“The floral industry is something people do because they love it and they’re passionate about it,” said Klassen. “Cash flow isn’t always that great in the [industry.] When good seasons come they will often cover you through to the next event.”

“If you miss out on one event it can really hurt your cash flow for the year.”

Aside from pre-orders, Lance’s business was closed for Mother’s Day – the busiest time of the year for florists. And things got worse before they could get better.

Lance now has to undergo a second surgery in early June, and this one will require nearly three and a half months of recovery time.

“I had to throw out hundreds of dollars worth of flowers,” Lance said of her surgery in May. She said she isn’t ready to consider what could happen if she doesn’t have the funds to make it through the next few months.

“It’s been quite an overwhelming couple of weeks,” she said, holding back tears.

Since she was 16-years-old, Lance knew she wanted to be a florist. Nearly 40 years passed before she made that dream come true in 1999, and she did it completely alone.

“This business has been my life,” she said. “Most florists have a husband in the background…I don’t have a partner, I’ve done this all on my own.”

“It’s so much in my heart.”

Lance is hoping for support to help her and her business through the next few months. Her GoFundMe page can be found at uk.gofundme.com/hollytree.

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