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Operation Valentine's Day
Day for lovers is 'Black Friday' for florists
020915 COLONIAL HOUSE FLOWERSWeb
Colonial House of Flowers chief designer Barry Beasley readies a whole lot of roses for Valentine's Day on Saturday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Valentine's Day is Saturday, and many businesses have offered ways to please your significant other for weeks now. But one group of merchandisers experiences a rush around Feb. 14 unlike other trades — the floral business.

 "It's by far the biggest holiday," said Jackie Hane, floral designer and owner of The Flower Girl, located downtown at 25 S. Main St. "It's our ‘Black Friday.'"

Most local florists tend to hire additional, temporary help during the Valentine's season to accommodate passionate patrons, specifically on Valentine's Day itself. And though Hane plans to do so, she said she's pondered how things will pan out this year, as the 14th falls on a Saturday.

Hane thinks her busiest Valentine activity will take place on Friday, the day before Valentine's Day.

 "Everybody wants the ‘show,' the flowers delivered at work," Hane said.

She's even booked a wedding for the 14th, assuming that day will be less busy than the 13th.

"Normally it's just me in the shop," she said. "During Valentine's, I have to hire extra help for customer service and deliveries."

To decide what to offer her customers, Hane said she looked through the past two years of ordering to see what worked and what didn't sell well.

"Guys stay typical — simple and basic. They know the ladies like roses and if that will get them love and smiles, that's what they want."

Hane is partnering this year with Cake bakery owner Shannon Ward to offer packages.

"We're delivering flowers with chocolate-covered strawberries, homemade truffles, fancy macaroons," she said. "And she's offering roses in her store."

The Flower Girl owner plans to have a variety of choices, from arrangements available in the store from $10 and up to flowers by the stem to premade packages or arrangements made to order.

Colonial House of Flowers

Christie Hulsey, creative director and owner of Colonial House of Flowers, located at 100 Brampton Ave., near the hospital, plans for a huge holiday as well.

One of Colonial's floral experts, Barry Beasley, said: "We tried to look at past sales and trends for the coming year to guestimate the number of sales that we'll have. We overprepare. Better to overprepare than be shorthanded."

Beasley said in seeking additional help for flower deliveries, they encourage college students to apply who want temporary work, but creatively, they also encourage off-duty firefighters, police officers, postal service workers, those who know the streets or new volunteer firefighters who need to learn the streets.

 "It helps them but also helps us," Beasley said.

Colonial House also needs extra help inside the store, people who have worked retail.

"They might not know about designing flowers, but we can handle the arranging," Beasley said. "We get them in early and prepare them about what we'll be selling."

When asked about trends or hot sellers this year, Beasley answered: "Roses. Roses. Roses. It never fails, roses are always our number one seller."

However, Colonial House will have other offerings, too, like packages that include candles or chocolate-covered strawberries.

Special to this year, Colonial House has packages available based on the lyrics of a new, popular song, "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran.

"It's such a big hit, so romantic, all about love. Men and women can relate," Beasley said.

The Florist

The Florist, located at 300 E. Main St. and owned by Cindy Rountree, seeks additional deliverers, customer service help and workers to answer phones.

"But temporary designers are not easy to find," said Todd Branyon, an employee and floral designer.

Branyon said most of the offerings of wire services like Teleflora and FTD show more traditional Valentine's flowers than in some of the previous years, but that locally, The Florist's arrangements contain roses with a mix of other flowers. He said they do a lot more mixed vases than just roses, but roses are still the most popular.

Branyon explained that patrons from out of town who want to give flowers to someone local will sometimes order online, through a wire service, and then a local florist will prepare the design.

However, Branyon warns customers to beware when buying over the Internet.

"Online's gotten to be the easy way to do it, but be careful," he said. "You can go on the Internet and look, but flowers are regionally different, so florists might not have what you see."

Branyon encourages buyers to shop locally.

"Pick up the phone and call us," he said. "We can help you. Customers need to be educated to get a much better product. Call in plenty of time and talk to someone local."

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