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Holiday Hustle: Shops prepare for early Valentine’s Day business

With Valentine's Day just a day away, local businesses are hustling to prepare for one of the biggest retail holidays on the calendar. Orders for flowers and chocolates have been coming in for weeks ahead of the most romantic day of the year, bus...

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Press Photo by Naday Faulx Bake My Day owner Shannon Vaughn frosts a Valentine’s Day cookie Wednesday at her bakery in downtown Dickinson. Local shops have been working for weeks to prepare for Saturday’s holiday.

With Valentine’s Day just a day away, local businesses are hustling to prepare for one of the biggest retail holidays on the calendar.
Orders for flowers and chocolates have been coming in for weeks ahead of the most romantic day of the year, business owners say, and with the holiday falling on a Saturday this year, shops are working overtime to get deliveries out early.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Robin Becker, co-owner of Simply Flowers and Gifts on State Avenue. “When it falls on Saturday, it’s a little different. It was important for some people to have it sent to that person at work.”
Becker said her shop has made deliveries to schools and businesses as early as Monday of this week, with more expected today and Saturday. Orders for gifts began coming in weeks ago, she said, from “a few of those early birds that knew what they wanted, and knew from experience to prepare.”
The shop delivers to as far away as New England and Killdeer - even to Dunn Center, on occasion - and while Valentine’s Day business has stayed steady from previous years, Becker said she has been seeing more orders coming in from out of state - mostly from wives sending chocolate, balloons and even flowers to husbands working in the Bakken.
“One gentleman at an oil company was just thrilled about his roses,” she said.
That out-of-town demand has meant Simply Flowers and Gifts has had to expand its advertising reach to new avenues, especially in a town where three flower shops - including Gaffaney’s Floral and Third Avenue Floral and Greenhouse - have a hold on the market.
“It’s a different world that you’re working in,” Becker said, noting that she’s advertised on her website, Facebook and the radio.
Gaffaney’s began “early-bird advertising” the first week of February, said new co-owner Jason Degele, who took over the shop with his wife, Julie, in July. With roughly 300 orders for delivery and in-store pickup, he said notes from the previous owners have come in handy for how to deal with the busy holiday (Valentine’s Day makes up roughly 20 percent of annual floral shop transactions, according to a 2005 survey posted on aboutflowers.com, and an estimated 257 million roses were produced for Valentine’s Day last year).
Degele said his team has been working “as much as they need to” in order to process orders as they come in, in addition to stocking the shop’s cooler for last-minute shoppers on Saturday.
“It’s staying with what the records are,” he said. “Everything is flowing according to the notes.”
But where Gaffaney’s has a guide, some newer shops are navigating Valentine’s Day for the first time.
“We’ve been getting lots of extra calls,” said Shannon Vaughn, owner of the Bake My Day bakery in downtown Dickinson, which opened in July.
Business has been “smooth so far,” she said, though she and assistant CaSandra Heinrichs aren’t sure what to expect this weekend.
“The first time, we just have to take a leap of faith and prepare for being swamped,” Heinrichs said.
The shop normally takes orders a month out, and began receiving orders for special Valentine’s goods late last month. Vaughn estimates cakes and cupcakes have been the top draws, with chocolate-covered strawberries a close second. She couldn’t say exactly how many sweets she’s expecting to have ready for Saturday, but noted that many cupcakes the shop stocks on a normal day will be doubled for the weekend - like Degele and Becker, Vaughn said she’s expecting plenty of last-minute traffic to her shop.
“We hope we sell out of everything,” she said. “We’re hoping to be slammed.”
She and Heinrichs began preparing early, setting the menu and baking as much as possible ahead of time “to make it as painless as possible,” Heinrichs said, but the two bakers admit there’s only so much work they can do ahead of time.
“We’ll just come in really early on Friday and Saturday,” Vaughn said.
Despite the whirlwind of business leading up to - and on - Valentine’s Day, Becker, an 11-year veteran of the floral business, said she still enjoys the holiday.
“It’s been a great Valentine’s to us,” she said.

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