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A holiday merchants can love
Rebecca Gomes displays an orchid arrangement Tuesday at Funky Mountain Flowers. Local retailers expect to be busy leading up to Valentine’s Day, which this year falls on Monday. - photo by Autumn McBride

Whether it’s flowers, cards, sweets or treats, Valentine’s Day means big sales for many retailers.

According to a report from the National Retail Federation, the average American plans to spend about $116 on Valentine’s merchandise this year. That’s 11 percent higher than 2010’s $103.

Total holiday spending is expected to reach $15.7 billion, the report states, and local businesses are hoping to reap their fair share.

Ann Hayes, an employee of Parsons in Lakeland Plaza, said the gift and collectibles store doesn’t carry many Valentine-specific items, but will have its fair share of holiday shoppers.

“We will be busy this week,” said Hayes, noting that many of the store’s most popular items make good Valentine’s gifts for women.

“We put our main emphasis on ladies’ accessories. It used to be collectibles, but now it’s all about ladies’ accessories.”

While Parsons does carry “some Valentine’s candies and things,” she said their biggest sellers are Vera Bradley cloth handbags, totes and wallets, and Pandora and Brighton jewelry.

“We’ll have lots of men in here buying those Pandora bracelets. All ladies seem to love those Pandora bracelets.”

They also seem to love flowers, leading men to buy plenty of those for the holiday as well.

Brenda Dickey, owner of Funky Mountain Flowers on Bethelview Road, even called Valentine’s Day “a man’s holiday,” since they seem to do most of the purchasing.

The National Retail Federation’s survey indicated the same.

According to its findings, men are expected to spend at least $158 on their loved ones, more than twice as much as women, who are projected to spend about $76.

But the problem with that, Dickey said, is many men procrastinate, which leads to the majority of Valentine’s business taking place “within three days” of the 14th.

“They never remember until the last minute and they don’t plan ahead,” she said. “I [had] two Valentine’s orders [Monday], but within three days before, I’ll have hundreds.”

Cinda Holzwart, a sales associate at Mina’s Hallmark Store in Lakeland Plaza, agreed.

“[Valentine’s sales] started last week and they’ve been picking up steam every day,” she said. “Monday will be the busiest day since men typically wait till the last minute.”

To help them out, Dickey’s shop will offer what she called “emergency flowers” Saturday through Monday.

“We’ll have a tent set up in front of our shop and the men can just drive through and the girls will hand them their flowers,” Dickey said. “They won’t even have to figure the taxes, it’ll just be a set fee.”

In preparation for the big weekend, Dickey said she ordered 3,000 roses. But the store will also offer specials on orchids.

“We’re trying to change men’s minds that a dozen red roses isn’t always what [women] want,” she said. “Orchids last two to three weeks longer for about the same price.”

Like flowers, many shoppers turn to greeting cards for the romantic day.

Holzwart of the Hallmark store said Valentine’s is the “second highest card-sending occasion after Christmas.” But the store also offers other items for Valentine’s shoppers.

“The bulk of our business this week is cards, but going out with most of those cards is at least one or two stuffed animals and maybe some candy,” she said.

Sweet treats are making up Cinda Reid’s Valentine’s business.

The owner of Ice Cream Social, also on Bethelview Road, said in addition to handmade ice cream the shop features a variety of specialty cakes, cookies and cupcakes.

Reid said she’s making a variety of Valentine’s Day baked goods for special events this week.

“On Feb. 12, we’re doing a mother/daughter tea party and we’re also doing a father/daughter dance at Sawnee Elementary School on Feb. 11,” she said.

Among the goodies are heart-shaped cakes, brownies and cookies. The shop will also offer “some Valentine-themed flavors” of ice cream, which Reid said she was still working on.

“I’ll come up with some fun names first and then figure out the flavors,” she said.