Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and Falls Church flower shop owners are gearing up for the rush of last-minute customers by ordering red roses in bulk. When asked how working during Cupid’s holiday compares to any other day, Carol Beales of Galleria Florist had just one word to describe it — chaos.
“The phone’s ringing, you have people walking in the door, hopefully none of your employees cuts themselves with a knife, there’s water sloshing everywhere, stems are flying and thorns are going everywhere,” said Beales.
Mike Flood of Falls Church Florist, who already had stacks of Valentine’s Day orders sitting in his office, said he usually quadruples his purchase of red roses especially for the occasion, the majority of which come from South America.
“Working Valentine’s Day is probably ten times more difficult because of the volume of work you’re doing in such a short period of time,” said Flood, who noted the floral industry hasn’t been excluded from the effects of the recession. “It’s taken a good hit.”
Locals can do their part to stimulate local businesses by ordering directly from their florist instead of a large online floral provider. What many customers don’t realize is that even though their order is often wired to a Falls Church supplier, the buyer’s tax dollars spent on the purchase are fed back into the state where the large corporation is based.
“Even if someone wants to send flowers to California they can keep their tax dollars in Falls Church because I’m going to ring it up at my shop,” said Beales.
While a dozen roses bought in Washington, D.C. can run buyers up to $100, Beales has lowered the cost of her dozen by $5 this year to help customers out in hard times. Remaining optimistic, she hopes to sell out of stems.
“Then maybe I can make a profit because there’s no way I can mark up my roses to cover the increase I pay on them,” said Beales.
Both her and Flood agreed that since Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, with the following Monday being President’s Day, they are prepared to see a mediocre sales turnout in comparison to when the holiday occurs during the week. There’s less of a chance for floral deliveries to be involved with many lovebirds taking advantage of the three-day weekend.
“The women aren’t at the office Saturday. Couples are going skiing or staying at a bed and breakfast, which if I wasn’t working, that’s what I’d be doing,” said Beales with a laugh.
Though, she expects Friday, Feb. 13 to be a busy delivery day for husbands and boyfriends wanting to make the look-what-I-did statement to their wives and girlfriends’ co-workers.
“That’s a big deal for the gentlemen. They want their significant other to get flowers at work so they look like the big man on campus — it’s all about testosterone,” joked Beales, who said the Sunday following Valentine’s Day could also become busy with absent-minded customers buying bundles of blossoms to get themselves out of the doghouse.
“The day after can be just as hectic because you’re trying to help everyone who’s in trouble with their wife or girlfriend,” she said.
For the studs who do remember the details, Beales said 50 percent of her customers in the past have been males coming into her shop as late as 7 p.m. on Feb. 14. She’s prepared to stay open as late as 9 p.m. this Saturday, but unfortunately won’t be open Sunday for the belated senders.
Beales, however, said she doesn’t have to worry about such afterthoughts in her own marriage, who recalled coming home one Valentine’s Day after staying open for the latecomers to be greeted with a special treat.
“I walked in the door beat and starving and my husband had gone to my favorite restaurant and had the food set up with candles and wine. It was so romantic,” gushed Beales, who actually received the shop itself as a Valentine’s Day present from her husband years ago.
Most ladies may not land their own business this holiday, but for the lucky few who get roses sent to their doorstep, Flood advised to keep them away from indoor heat vents which will cause the heads to dry out. At the first sight of wilting, the rose’s stem should be re-cut and submerged in a sink of warm water.
“It will usually revive itself,” said Beales.
Roses aren’t the flower turning heads this Valentine’s Day. Many customers are opting for daisies or lilies according to Flood, while Beales said those sending arrangements to their non-romantic relatives usually go for variety.
“Orchids are popular as well. We sell a lot of chocolates, balloons or plants because if a customer is buying for their grandmother, they don’t want the typical dozen of red roses,” said Beales.
A single rose to symbolize “I love you” also hasn’t gone out of style, often serving as the eye-catching centerpiece in a mixed bouquet. However, with all of the alternatives out there, the red rose undoubtedly remains the holiday’s number-one seller.
“Valentine’s Day is for passion,” said Beales. “And that’s what giving a red rose is all about.”