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Love is in the air and florists are busy

By Leanne Fullerlfuller@paducahsun.com

Valentine's Day is one of the two busiest holidays for florists - the other being Mothers Day - and can require preparation well in advance.

"On Valentine's Day we probably deliver around 500 orders, and that's not counting pickups," Abbey Shelton said.

Shelton, who manages Rose Garden Florist, Inc. in Paducah, said the number is closer to 600 or 700 including flowers picked up in the store. On a busy non-holiday, she said ,the shop will sell 50 or 60 arrangements.

Marilyn Travis, who co-owns Cherry Tree Florist and Gifts in Murray, and Pam Rose, owner of Woods Florist in Benton, each said Valentine's Day is one of her store's busiest days, but the florists don't only see increased business on the day itself.

Shelton said Wednesday that Rose Garden Florist had already received 50 or 60 orders for Valentine's Day arrangements.

People started placing orders Jan. 1, and the store's website usually sees an increase in traffic beginning two weeks before the holiday.

Travis said Cherry Tree Florist and Gifts places its Valentine's Day orders on pin boards. On Wednesday the store had one board filled, and that was only the beginning.

"We have several of those, and they will be covered. All of them," Travis said. 

While Rose said her Valentine's Day customers began making orders in the last week of January, every day has been fairly busy for her store and expected to be even busier beginning Monday, in her experience many people wait until the last minute.

"We try to accommodate everybody but, you know, you can only do so much in a day's time," Rose said.

"These men need to plan a little better," Rose joked.

Travis said when it comes to ordering Valentine's Day flowers, the sooner the better.

"We've had to cut orders off before, which we hate doing, but you just get so many and you want to fill what you have before you promise any more," Travis said.

A lot goes into making sure people get their Valentine's flowers.

Rose said she orders the flowers for Valentine's Day arrangements in December. This year, she said, she ordered about 1,200 roses, as well as a variety of lilies, carnations, hydrangeas and irises, as well as filler flowers and greenery.

Shelton said her store orders Valentine's Day flowers about a month in advance if not more. She said the store has about 4,000 roses coming in this year and more than 1,000 carnations.

Each store also requires extra hands on deck each year to help with the increase in business.

Shelton said Rose Garden Florist hires 10 to 12 additional drivers to work around the holiday, as well as four or five additional designers to help make the arrangements, bringing to total to about 10.

Cherry Tree Florist usually brings in 10 or 12 seasonal employees to help its usual team of about eight.

Rose generally handles all designing and deliveries herself, but usually hires four seasonal employees - two drivers and two designers - to help meet the higher demand.

To handle walk-in orders on Valentine's Day or the day before, Travis said Cherry Tree Florist and Gifts tries to have several arrangements pre-made for customers to choose from, and had already begun making those during that past few days.

Each of the florists said arrangements of one dozen roses are the most popular among Valentine's Day shoppers.

Rose said her preference, however, is a mixed bouquet.

"Every now and then it's nice to be surprised with something besides roses," Rose said.

"I love stargazer lilies and irises together," she added. "I think that's so pretty."

Travis said while roses are the most popular, arrangements of tulips or gerbera daisies are also popular choices, and her store also sells fruit baskets and candy baskets, and can add stuffed animals and chocolates to floral arrangements.

The florists each said she hopes western Kentucky will get a break from the snowy, icy conditions it has faced off and on this winter, because icy roads can make deliveries more difficult.

"If you can't deliver the stuff, you can't sell it," Shelton said.

While Rose said he hoped it wouldn't snow on Valentine's Day, she appreciates the cold weather because it flowers are preserved better in cold weather than in hot weather.

Regardless of concerns about the weather, Travis said she and her crew are looking forward to Valentine's Day.

"Seeing the smiles on the faces of the people we deliver to, it's priceless," Travis said.

Contact Leanne Fuller, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.

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