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Merchants ready for Valentine's Day
Rose, chocolates will be in demand
Val WEB 1
Ronnie McCormick, owner of Lanierland Florist, works on an arrangement in his shop. McCormick and other local retailers are preparing for a busy Valentine’s Day weekend. - photo by Autumn Vetter

Roses, chocolates and jewelry will top many Valentine’s Day shopping lists.

According to a survey from the National Retail Federation, the average American is expected to spend some $126 on their sweetheart and for other holiday-related items this year.

That’s up nearly 9 percent over last year’s Valentine’s Day spending of $116, and is the highest in the survey’s 10-year history.

Forsyth merchants are hoping to benefit.

Cris Willis, owner of Parsons in Lakeland Plaza, said the romantic holiday makes for a busy few days.

“We’re really gearing up for this weekend,” she said. “Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday will all be really busy.”

While the holiday isn’t one of the biggest of the year for the store, Willis called it “a wonderful little blip on the radar.”

The store specializes in gifts, collectibles and jewelry, which all make nice Valentine’s Day gifts, she said.

There’s also a candy counter, where customers can buy fudge and chocolates.

“We figure every woman needs jewelry and chocolate, or a handbag and chocolate for Valentine’s Day,” Willis said.

Many women will also find themselves receiving flowers on the holiday.

That’s good for Ronnie McCormick, the second generation owner of Lanierland Florist on Highway 20, which has been providing flowers to the area for nearly 50 years.

“We start preparing for it definitely in early February,” McCormick said. “We get a lot of business with the sweetheart dances at the schools, but basically it’s a one-day boom.”

McCormick said his shop usually sells several thousand roses for the day.

“For Valentine’s Day, it’s predominantly red roses. That’s traditionally the No. 1 selling product,” he said.

While the day may be a “blip” for Willis, for McCormick it’s one of the two busiest for most florists.

“As far as arrangements, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are pretty close to the same,” he said. “They’re the busiest days of the year for us.”

He said Valentine’s Day is probably second to Mother’s Day in flower sales.

“Everybody might not have a sweetheart, but everybody has a mother,” McCormick said.

But Valentine’s has its share of supporters, even in some unexpected corners.

Kirk McConnell, owner of Donut Connection on Keith Bridge Road, said the day is good for business.

He said the shop — which daily produces some 25 varieties of doughnuts, as well as several types of bagels and muffins — creates several specialty holiday doughnuts and coffee drinks for the holiday.

“We start selling the Valentine’s doughnuts about two weeks before,” he said. “They’re always a little different every year.”

Added doughnut baker Linda Worley: “It’s just whatever we’re in the mood for that year.”

This year the designs figure a lot of pink and white frosting in various heart patterns. Many of the doughnuts are topped with sprinkles and Valentine’s candy.

“Valentine’s week is one of the busiest of the year for us,” McConnell said. “The special doughnuts are big sellers, especially anything with sprinkles.”

He said on the holiday itself, the store will sell “15 to 25 dozen of the Valentine’s Day designs.”

“And that’s on top of the 20 to 30 dozen we normally sell every day,” he said. “People get them for their boyfriends, sweethearts, girlfriends and their offices.”

Whether it’s doughnuts, candy, flowers or other gifts, many men in particular will probably wait until the last minute to get their Valentine’s Day offerings.

McCormick said most flower orders are placed in advance, but often there are those last-minute customers.

“Sometimes we see folks right up to closing time that day,” he said. “We’ll have men running up saying, ‘I have to get something for my wife.’”

Willis said she’ll have similar scenarios on Tuesday.

“It’s one of the few times of year we have a lot of men in here,” she said. “The women will be in getting gifts for their kids or husbands this weekend, but the men will all be in here Monday and Tuesday.”