After storm local retailers brace for love rush on Valentine’s Day

dworthington@heraldonline.comFebruary 13, 2014 

  • Did you wait until the last minute?

    Florists in the region are prepared for walk-in customers today. Their one word of warning, however, is to be patient, it make take a few minutes to assemble an arrangement. Most of the premade arrangements are for customers who had preordered. Knowing the likes and favorite colors of the recipient can help florists find the right combination.

If you don’t have a Valentine’s Day gift today don’t blame those who work to make the day special.

Florists, bakers, chocolate makers and others were at work Thursday after two days of snow and icy roads, filling orders, delivering flowers and making sure everything is on track for one of their busiest days of the year.

Their one fear is a lack of Friday sunshine needed to melt the ice on the roads, especially the secondary and neighborhood roads.

“I want sunshine so big it’s like summer,” said Terri Hunter, owner of Hunter’s Creative Florist in Chester. Nine inches of snow plus ice kept her patrons at home on Thursday. “Because of the weather, they can’t get to us and we can’t get to them,” she said.

Hunter has two full coolers of flowers, about 8,000 roses waiting for customers.

She and other florists are hoping that changes Friday.

On Thursday, many florists had a backlog of flowers to deliver. They also were verifying delivery addresses as many prefer to send flowers to a business which may not be open today. Some customers opted to cancel flowers intended to be sent to loved ones at work, said Fredda Smith of By the Bunch of Fort Mill.

At Ribald Farms on Herlong Avenue in Rock Hill, owner Shawna Turner was a flurry of activity, working on three arrangements at once. Nearby a worker used a band saw to to cut the stems of roses from Ecuador. It was the quickest and most efficient way to even the stems.

The boxes held hundreds of roses which went quickly into arrangements.

The roses came in a variety of colors but Turner was partial to the Freedom rose with its deep red hue. The rose has a full head of pedals, 36 to the rose, more than the bright red Charlotte rose that is a staple of Valentine’s Day and weddings.

“We’re working hard,” she said. Workers were gathering roses in dozen and two-dozen bunches. They were also making arrangements of roses with other flowers.

The combination of roses with other flowers such as Gerbera daisies, tulips and orchids represent a good value and they tend to last longer, said Linda Myers, owner of the Palmetto House in Clover. Such arrangements are the specialty of Smith at By the Bunch.

At the Chocolate Boutique at Fort Mill’s Baxter Village, truffles and chocolate-covered strawberries are the preferred gift, sand Andrea Van Welsen. Business was quiet Thursday morning but reached a hectic pace in the afternoon as the sun turned many of the main roads into a drivable mess of slush. “It’s absolutely nuts,” she said.

A box of truffles is $35 and a dozen covered strawberries is $25. Florists said they have arrangements starting at $30 and up, some reaching $200. Linda Myers of the Palmetto House in Clover reported she even had orders for three dozen roses.

The weather’s impact on Valentine’s Day remains to be determined but the National Retail Federation recently reported January sales were flat.

“Harsh winter weather is masking the performance of the broader economy,” National Retail Federation chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Extreme temperatures and severe ice and snow are making it increasingly difficult to assess if the retail sales slowdown is temporary or a telling sign of a longer lasting weakness in the consumer-fueled economy. No one can jump to any solid conclusion until we shovel out of the snow.”

The federation estimated that the average male Valentine Day’s customer will spent about $130.

Still, local retailers remain optimistic.

“Hopefully, we will still make people happy and I’m expecting a sellout,” said Cindy Yarborough of Cindy’s Flowers and Gifts of Rock Hill.

Don Worthington •  803-329-4066

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