ELIZABETHTOWN — Though things have come a long way from the days of mix tapes and on-air declarations of love on the Delilah Show, one thing hasn’t changed — the desire to publicly attest undying love for a significant other.
Around Bladen County, businesses have been preparing for the one-day onslaught of affection.
“This is definitely our biggest single day of the year,” said Whimsical Florist owner Maurice Williams.
Two years ago, things got so busy at Williams’ store that he ended up doing what only a dedicated businessman would do when things get hectic — spending the night in the flower shop.
“I got to the shop at about 7:30 in the morning the day before Valentine’s Day, and after my wife dropped my daughter off at school, she came in, too,” recalled Williams. “We started working on orders, and things just kept multiplying, and before we knew it, it was six the next morning.
“My sister-in-law took my daughter to school, and all day on Valentine’s Day, things were still wide open,” he added. “We ended up finishing all the orders around eight that night. I’m hoping I won’t have to do anything like that again.”
To spread out the responsibilities, Williams will have extra drivers, floral designers, and customer attendants on staff, and he’s ordered extra flowers this year to stave off the selling out that occurred last year.
Like the flower business, the jewelry industry sees its fair share of traffic around Valentine’s Day, although not for what one might initially think.
“Not as many people get engaged around Valentine’s Day as they used to,” said Tina Merrit-Smith, owner of Fowler Jewelry in Elizabethtown. “It doesn’t have to be a special holiday for engagements any more, but it’s spread out throughout the year.”
She added, joking, “I think girls realized they wanted more than one holiday — they’re going to get something on Valentine’s Day anyway, so they might as well have another day to celebrate.”
If so, they’re really cashing in. Merritt-Smith said the average amount spent by customers around the February holiday is in the vicinity of $150, excluding engagement rings.
Shoppers yet to buy can still do so. Merritt-Smith and Williams both said though they don’t recommend waiting until the last minute, since Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year, they’ll be getting inventory in at the last minute. Hot items in the flower shop, as always, are red roses, as well as gifts in balloons. Jewelry-wise, infinities, dancing diamonds, and chocolate diamonds are big sellers this year for women, and, for men, watches and silicone bands top the list.
And for those looking for that je ne sais quoi to really top off the gift-giving and send a special message, two words: Mix. Tape.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.