Florists say they are cut out for the rush

Local petal pushers bring in thousands of roses, additional help to meet demand

Posted: Monday, February 13, 2006

By some estimates, more than 156 million roses will be sold today, and roses only make up half of cut flowers during Valentine’s Day.

This can be a lot of work on everyone from the growers to the shippers and the florists that sell and deliver them.

The latter say they are ready for the flower-powered holiday.

“We’re ready, but just by the skin of our teeth,” said Mike Patterson, who just six weeks ago became the new owner of at the “Y” in Soldotna.

Patterson said Valentine’s Day in undeniably the busiest time of year for florists.

“Throughout the year we have our staples, such as flower sales to the average consumer and what we provide to restaurants and for organizations and special events,” he said.

Patterson added that weddings, funerals and school events like proms and dances also provide business throughout the year. None of these events compare to the sheer volume of flowers sold during Valentine’s, though.

“It’s a real challenge. We’ve already had 12,000 roses come in, not to mention other flowers,” he said.

Loretta Moore of the Flower House in Kenai shared similar sentiments.

“This is it. This and Mother’s Day are our two biggest holidays,” she said.

Moore said this year in particular everyone seems to be in a holiday mood.

“We’re already doing some big orders — three dozens roses at a time. We’ve got 100 preorders already and if this year is anything like years past, we’re only seeing a quarter of what we’ll do on the day of as men come in at the last minute and after work,” she said.

Despite all the business and flower costs that can rise on the holiday, Patterson said it’s a big misconception that florists are making money hand over fist. In fact, he said he’s known florists that have gone out of business as a result of spending more than they take in during Valentine’s Day.

“Flower prices may go up, but it’s because it takes a lot of additional resources,” he said.

Patterson said growers in South America, California and Florida may have to grow 10 times their normal amount for supply to meet the demand on Valentine’s Day.

Then there is the cooler space required to keep flowers fresh, the shipping costs incurred from getting them to Alaska and paying for all the labor to provide all of these services.

“From growing, to shipping, to storage — it takes a lot to bring fresh flowers to the consumer for this day,” he said.

Moore said, as opposed to the two floral designers and one driver normally employed during the year, the Flower House has had to add five more helpers and four drivers.

“We’ve got family, friends, everyone we can coming in,” she said.

Despite all the long hours of hard work, Patterson said he really enjoys the holiday business.

“It’s exciting and fun to help someone trying to do something nice for their wife, girlfriend or a loved one. It’s so fast-paced that it’s kind of a let down when it’s over,” he said.

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