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Perfect arrangement
Florists deal with ordered chaos that is Valentine’s Day
By Tom Smith - TNValleyNow.com
Jim Hannon
Janice Green gathers blossoms from the cooler at Kaleidoscope Florist and Gifts in Florence to make fresh floral arrangements for Valentine’s Day orders.

Millions of people today will be giving their loved one the perfect romantic card, special heart-shaped boxes of candy and, of course, red roses.

It sounds pretty simple, and it is for the givers, but not so much for the florists who worked throughout the night and rushed to get the roses delivered today.

“It doesn’t just happen overnight,” said Joey Kimbrough, owner of Kaleidoscope Florist in Florence and Muscle Shoals. “The average person just wants the flowers delivered or ready when they arrive to pick them up. They would be amazed what goes into getting ready for today.”

Diane Rowell, owner of Something Ele’Gant in Florence, said Valentine’s Day is unlike any other day.

“It’s not normal, it gets crazy,” Rowell said laughing, between taking orders.

Stephanie Wood, owner of Blossom Shop in Russellville, began planning for Valentine’s Day right after Christmas.

“Things have to be ordered in advance,” Wood said.

Wood said she uses the volume of arrangements and flowers sold the previous year to calculate the order for the upcoming year.

“And still you wonder if you have it right,” she said.

Kimbrough said some of the calculations involve guesswork.

“There’s a lot of guessing that goes into it,” Kimbrough said. “I based my orders for this year on last year’s volume and then I add 20 percent, just in case.”

Wood said she prepared for today all week by getting vases out and cleaned and preparing the flowers.

“(The flowers) don’t just come in and are put in the arrangements,” Wood said.

Most of the florists get their fresh-cut flowers from local wholesalers. The flowers come to the wholesalers from South America and California.

Kimbrough said most florists have been getting their flowers in for the past few days.

“The flowers have been chilled (before they get to us) and once they get here they have to be unloaded, unpacked and then hydrated in buckets of water mixed with feed,” Kimbrough said. “Plus, every stem has to be cut at an angle and then placed in the water and then they go into coolers to keep them fresh.”

Because of the large volume of orders, most florists rely on more help during the days leading up to Valentine’s Day.

“I’ve got a large family and they are in here helping to prep, answer phones taking orders and they will also deliver,” Wood said.

Kimbrough has 13 employees between his two stores on normal occasions.

“But through Valentine’s we’ll push that number to 42,” he said. “We have to bring in more people to process the flowers, take phone calls, process the orders, design the orders and deliver.”

Last year, he said he did more than 1,400 orders on Valentine’s Day at the two stores. He is expecting 1,800 orders this year.

Kimbrough said he brings in 16 extra designers to work in the two stores for the Valentine’s rush.

Rowell, like most florists, started receiving orders last week.

“It was constant throughout the week leading up to (today),” she said.

It was the same for Wood.

“We opened early (today) and we’ll stay late,” Wood added.

Kimbrough said lines started forming this week.

“Monday was crazy, we had people coming in, standing in line and calling all day,” Kimbrough said. “And it got worse. That was the beginning of the chaos.”

Kimbrough said he opens his business at 7 a.m. on Valentine’s Day. “We have people waiting when we open.”

Floral designers started putting arrangements together Wednesday.

“(Starting on Wednesday) puts us under the gun, but we’ll work around the clock to get everything done,” Wood said.

Rowell said design is the fun part for her.

“I love when the driver comes back and says the customer was excited or happy with the flowers,” she said.

Wood said she is a people pleaser. “When people tell me they are pleased with the arrangements it makes it all worthwhile.”

Wood said red roses still are the No. 1 flower for Valentine’s Day, but there are some who want different selections.

Rowell said she does a lot of mixed-flower bouquets and tulips.

The cost, in general, of a Valentine’s Day arrangement is $70-$100, depending on what kind of flowers and designs are ordered, according to local florists.

So does the craziness end tonight?

“No, it never fails, someone will forget and they will rush in here the day after and we’ll put something together for them,” Rowell said. “But that’s just part of it, because Valentine’s Day is the big day for florists.”

Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.

Valentine’s Day fun facts

There will be 198 million roses produced for Valentine’s Day.

Roses are considered the flower of love because the color red stands for strong romantic feelings.

73 percent of all Valentine’s Day flowers will be bought by men.

The average consumer will spend more than $110 on Valentine’s Day.

Candy, flowers and cards are the most popular Valentine’s gifts.

Red roses comprise 51 percent of flowers purchased on Valentine’s Day.

15 percent of U.S. women send themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day.

More than 35 million heart-shaped boxes of candy will be sold Valentine’s Day.

More than $1 billion worth of chocolate is purchased for Valentine’s Day.

It’s estimated that one billion Valentine cards are sent worldwide.

Sources: sheknows.com and aboutflowers.com.

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