Valentine's Day sparks businesses
Flowers, bears, candy and balloons will be decorating homes and offices today as lovers, families and friends express their feelings through Valentine's Day gifts.
Local floral shops and other businesses such as Jennie's Hallmark have been experiencing an influx of gift-buyers this week. The closer to Valentine's Day, the more customers those businesses have seen.
Linda Conner, part-owner of Country Floral and Keepsakes, said Valentine's Day will undoubtedly be the busiest day of the year at the store.
"The biggest day used to be Mother's Day, but it's changed," she said. "Valentine's Day is just really a special day to tell someone you love them. I believe in buying flowers for yourself too, because you never know how long you'll be on this earth."
Conner said the most popular gift from her store has been roses. From long-stemmed roses to roses with naturally grown tipped edges, the flowers have been requested nonstop during the past few days, Conner said. Country Floral and Keepsakes also sells a rose called Nicole, which has a cream-tipped edge with a purplish-colored interior.
To prepare for the big day, several local stores have brought in extra help. Country Floral and Keepsakes, Marshall Floral and Gift and Missouri Valley Greenhouse and Flower Shop, for example, are relying on part-time help or family members, in addition to their regular staff, to help fill everyone's valentine orders and make gift deliveries.
Ann Proctor, a part-time deliverer for Marshall Floral, said she has worked throughout the week to help the shop get a head start on Valentine's Day requests. Marshall Floral has been so busy that the owner had no time to comment about business.
Predicting that today will bring in even more customers, with last-minute gift-buyers finally making their purchases, store owners have been working long hours.
"(On Valentine's Day) you won't even be able to step in that door, there will be so many men in here, because they like to wait until the very last minute," Conner said.
Judy Merrick, who assumed ownership of the Missouri Valley Greenhouse and Flower Shop last April, is experiencing her first Valentine's Day at the shop. While her husband, Mike, has been filling balloons with helium, she has been creating candle and flower bouquets and other Valentine's Day specials. She has begun work as much as three or four hours earlier than usual in order to keep up with business.
"It's a fun time," she said. "Everything I do, I do thinking 'This will be special for someone.' I try to get to know my customers and get a feel for what the person is like that they're buying something for, because everyone is unique and every flower is unique."
Similar to the flower shops, Jennie's Hallmark has also noticed a heavier stream of customers this week.
"The husband cards have been pretty picked over but the guys will be in (today) to get the wife cards," said Manager Christie Morrow. "The guys who have already been in tell us they were beating the crowd, getting ahead of the rush."
Although the most popular items, the Hallmark kiss-kiss bears, have been sold out at the local Hallmark location, Morrow said cards have been "flying out of the store like crazy."
"It's a very big holiday," she said. "It ranks close to Christmas."
Because Valentine's Day has become such a big day, businesses have been making special efforts to fill their customers' requests and offer the finest services and gifts.
For example, Country Floral and Keepsakes has three men who serve as "cupids" and deliver valentines. Each wears a white tuxedo with a red vest to enhance the occasion of receiving a valentine.
"It's really nice to be able to deliver flowers to people on such a special day and, if at all possible, I try to give it right to the person because when we're all dressed up it adds a little more to it," said Dennis Conner, a delivery "cupid" and part-owner of the store.
Addressing the importance of the word, and action, "love," Linda Conner always encourages customers to sign their cards with love, because she believes the purpose of Valentine's Day is to make an expression of love.