Bed of Roses?: Florists prepare for most profitable – and stressful – day of the year

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Most equate Valentine’s Day with candy, cards and Cupid.

Florists equate Valentine’s Day with stress, strain and strife.

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“That’s what you’re in it for, right?” says Tabatha Osborne, owner of Valley Grande Florist and Gifts on Highway 22. “(Valentine’s Day) is a good thing, but it’s very stressful.”

With Valentine’s Day exactly one week away, Osborne will spend this week custom designing gift baskets and bath sets before she checks in a large shipment on Saturday. Valley Grande Florist and Gifts now employs two people. For Valentine’s Day, Osborne doubles her workforce to five.

“There’s just so much going on,” Osborne said.

Feb. 14 is the most profitable day of the year for florists, according to statistics. Last year an estimated 189 million roses were produced for Valentine’s Day. The insatiable demand for flowers and gift baskets forces florists to plan well in advance.

“We start as soon as Christmas is packed up, which is usually the second week of January,” says Vicky Wilkerson, owner of The Flower Basket on Citizens Parkway. “As soon as you can get started the better. It’s better to have all your ducks in a row.”

The Flower Basket has withstood 29 Valentine’s Days since opening its doors in 1978. Red roses are the perennial pick for one’s sweetheart, but Wilkerson has noticed a distinct trend in the past few years.

“People want things they can keep,” she said. “People want silk flowers, green plants, hydrangeas and azaleas to plant in the yard. We sell a good variety of things. There’s enough stuff for anybody’s taste.”

The “stuff,” Wilkerson adds, must be delivered promptly. Like Osborne, Wilkerson almost doubles her workforce from six to 11 for Valentine’s Day. She also rents two extra delivery vans to guarantee prompt deliveries.

“If you’re open from eight to five for business, you have eight to nine hours to get every Valentine’s order out which means you got to have them ready before the doors open at eight,” Wilkerson said. “It’s stressful but it’s okay though. It only happens one day a year.”

Bill, Albritton, owner of Albritton’s Flowers on West Highland Avenue is all too familiar with the Valentine’s rush, having served the Selma community for over 20 years. With a regular staff of five, Albritton will recruit another five bodies for Valentine’s deliveries next week.

“You’re working with perishable goods and you’ve got to take care of them,” Albritton said. “There’s a lot of work and everybody has to work together, but we all survive and get along. The hardest part is trying to get (the orders) all out in the time frame that you’ve got.”

Albritton preps for Valentine’s Day two weeks in advance. He estimates the holiday brings in “about a month’s business in a couple of days.”

“There’s always a mad influx Valentine’s morning – people that have procrastinated,” said Albritton, who suggests customers place their Valentine’s order today.

“Everybody needs to buy their sweetheart something,” said Wilkerson. “Even if it’s a simple card.”

Rose Care Tips

If your roses arrived in plastic water tubes, remove them before arranging.

Remove any leaves that will be under water, taking care not to cut through or scrape the green bark.

Recut stems by removing one to two inches with a sharp knife.

Immediately after cutting, place roses in a clean, deep vase of water containing a flower food provided by your florist.

Check the flower food solution daily and make sure to keep it full, clean, and fresh. If the solution becomes cloudy, replace it entirely.

Keep your roses in a cool place, out of direct sun and drafts.