Norma Nugent and Loretta Moore work on floral arrangements Saturday afternoon at the Flower House in Kenai. "Its been real steady," Moore said. "With (Valentine's Day) being on a Monday, we're anticipating it being real busy at the last minute."
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Finding the right Valentine's Day gift can be one the most difficult shopping experiences in any man's life.
The nature of the gift cannot only reflect how much a person cares or doesn't care about their significant other, but it also can convey the seriousness of the relationship as a whole.
Luckily, the central Kenai Peninsula abounds with stores specializing in romantic-themed gifts for the occasion.
"Most men know a rose is the symbol of the day," said Tammy Pokrandt, owner of Tammy's Flowers and Gifts in Soldotna.
"We see a lot more men around Valentine's Day. As much as 60 percent of our business will be men, but women come in, too," she said.
Pokrandt said although some folks come seeking mixed flower bouquets or tropical arrangements, the rose is by far the most popular purchase. She carries Ecuadorian roses known for their large size.
"A typical purchase can be anything from a three-bud vase on up to a full dozen," she said.
Of course, there's also the color of the rose to consider, and Pokrandt said it's not as simple as just walking in and ordering roses of red.
"We've got seven different reds, and a lot of other unusual colors. We've got lavender, two-toned, red with pink stripes and a lot of others. There's some cool roses out there, since they're always producing new ones, but red is still the most popular," she said.
Almost as traditional as flowers is the gift of candy, and the Candy Bouquet in Soldotna is prepared for the big day.
"I feel it's very true that a lot of people give candy on Valentine's Day, especially when flowers and candy can be combined into one gift," said Kathy Waterbury, owner of the Candy Bouquet.
She said her store carries traditional gift boxes of chocolate, wrapped and unwrapped gourmet chocolate and that they specialize in floral arrangements made from chocolate.
"Our chocolate roses look just like the real thing. They come in different sizes and shapes and are arranged in a vase. We have pre-made bouquets and can make special ones with enough time," Waterbury said.
However, she pointed out not everyone plans that far ahead.
"Some people always procrastinate or forget, so we're always busy on Valentine's Day with people coming in at the last minute," she said.
For those looking to add a special message to go with their flowers and sweets, Mallard's Party Tricks and Things in Soldotna claims to have just the thing.
"We have 45 different valentine balloons to go with other gifts and are good gifts themselves," said Terri Wenger, the store's owner.
The messages on the balloon are varied. Some are quite to the point with slogans like "I love you," while others take a more creative approach with statements like "You turn me on," on a light bulb-shaped balloon, and "There's a spot in my heart for you" on a puppy-shaped balloon.
"We have balloons for any stage of a relationship, from one week to 50 years," Wenger said.
They also can custom make photo balloons for customers who bring in pictures, and they will put any message desired on the helium filled float.
Wenger added that the store carries holiday-themed wrapping paper, streamers and candles for everything from personalizing an office cubicle to decorating for a full-blown holiday party.
Jewelry is another classic gift idea, and Fred Meyer Jewelers in Soldotna said business has picked up as usual in preparation for the holiday.
"This is a busy time of year. Jewelry is a common romantic gift. It's surprising how many people buy jewelry at this time, but after all, diamonds are a girl's best friend," said Petie Maslowski, assistant manager.
She said bracelets, rings, necklaces and pendants with heart symbols are what most people purchase.
"We also have a high percentage of wedding proposals on Valentine's Day, so we sell a lot of engagement rings, too," Maslowski added.
At Passions Too in the Peninsula Center Mall, gifts of a more intimate nature can be purchased, and owner Nuson Smith said he's decided to extend the store's hours to keep up with business.
"Business has been steadily increasing," he said.
Unlike many of the other retail stores, women shoppers outnumbered the men, according to Smith.
"It's mostly women buying lingerie. It's a gift that will keep on giving and also men tend to stay away from buying women's clothes because of the size issues," he said.
However, in regard to other products, Smith said the gender hasn't made much of a difference.
"We've had both men and women buying a lot of lotions and oil, love aids and Kama Sutra products," he said.
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