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All the economy needs is love
by Nathan Orme
Feb 11, 2010 | 1572 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<a href= mailto:dreid@dailysparkstribune.com>Tribune/Debra Reid</a> - Chocolate Walrus Boutique employee Alexis Jensen models a Burleska corset, J. Valentine skirt and Naughty Lola garter belt. The store was busy on Thursday as customers purchased intimate suprises for Valentine's Day.
Tribune/Debra Reid - Chocolate Walrus Boutique employee Alexis Jensen models a Burleska corset, J. Valentine skirt and Naughty Lola garter belt. The store was busy on Thursday as customers purchased intimate suprises for Valentine's Day.
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SPARKS — With Valentine’s Day upon us, Americans — particularly American men — will be digging into their pockets and making hurried last-minute trips to florists, candy shops, jewelers and other stores for romance-related purchases.

While many men might not be very good at planning for the holiday, Frank Lawrence of Amy’s Flowers at 1349 Baring Blvd. in Sparks is one man who spends a lot of time thinking ahead about Cupid’s yearly visit.

“Plan, plan and plan is the biggest thing,” he said. “We are prepared for it by bringing in extra staff. A lot of people we’ve used many, many years. We have hundreds of years of experience here.”

The old tale of the florist that runs out of flowers on Valentine’s Day only happens to businesses that have poor planning, Lawrence said. He estimates that the volume at his store grows by 10 to 15 times in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day. To be ready, he expands his normal staff of about four people to about 15 workers. Extra hands are needed in all areas of the business, he said, from customer service to preparing bouquets to making deliveries. Despite the financial slow-down in business that has affected everyone throughout periods of recession, Lawrence said he is still planning on the February uptick in traffic.

“One of reasons we’re able to be here is holidays like Valentine’s Day,” said Lawrence, who has owned Amy’s for 17 years. “It takes years to learn to deal with that.”

Celebrating 50 years in business this year is Sparks Florist. Director of internal operations Suzanne Shepherd said the florist, which has two retail stores and a large warehouse in Sparks, said the volume of business at this time is “substantial.”

“Obviously it’s a very good time for us,” Shepherd said. “It’s generally our busiest week of the year, this week and, of course, Mother’s Day are our two busiest. We work really hard to get ready for this week.”

Sparks Florist has expanded its fleet of delivery drivers, from its normal four vans to 32 for the Valentines Day weekend to accommodate between 3,500 and 4,000 deliveries. Shepherd said Sparks Florist started receiving a lot of its extra inventory of flowers in January, including 15,000 roses alone and lots of extra vases, balloons, stuffed animals, candy, even those little plastic picks to hold a sentimental card.

Speaking of cards, Sarah Kotell from the public relations department at Hallmark said Valentine’s Day will see 152 million cards exchanged nationwide (a distant second to 1.8 billion cards at Christmas), not counting the little valentines given by children in classrooms. Kotell said industry studies have shown a trend away from purely romantic cards toward greetings that express affection towards numerous people in life.

“We’re hearing that in addition to recognizing a significant other, people also want to slip a card in their child’s backpack or tell mom they love them,” Kotell said. “As a consequence we’re seeing a lot of cards that are upbeat and genuine in tone ... things that really say, ‘I love you and I’m glad you’re in my life.’ ”

Nevadans are expected to spend about $103 each on their Valentines this year, according to Bryan Wachter, director of government affairs for the Retail Association of Nevada. That will amount to about $109 million in retail spending in the Silver State, Wachter said, a slight increase of $1 million over last year. This data comes from a survey by the National Retail Federation for the week of Jan. 10-17, broken down by Nevada’s over-18 population of 1.9 million.

Unfortunately for the gentler sex, men are spending less on their women this year, according to Wachter, though they’re still generally spending about double what the ladies spend: $140 each compared to about $70.

Restaurants are the biggest winners, Wachter continued, though the fact that Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday this year means good things for romantic travel, since it offers more chances for getaways over the weekend.

Lawrence and Shepherd both commented that the weekend plays a big role in the business of Valentine’s Day. Shepherd said she is seeing a huge spike in deliveries to businesses set for today and is anticipating a lot of walk-in traffic as couples head out for the night on Saturday or Sunday.

“We’re predicting a little bit of an increase over last year,” Shepherd said of her outlook for Valentine’s Day overall. “This year we have noticed an uptick in business in general over the last three or four months, maybe like 5 to 10 percent. A lot of it, too, depends what day of the week it falls on. I’m thinking Sunday is going to be a good one. We have the whole work week where we’ll have deliveries to businesses and we have additional days after that.”

Some people like to make their romance more engaging either with a ring or with something risque. Patty Ince, whose husband is the namesake of Robert Ince Jewelers at 550 W. Plumb Lane in Reno, said a lot of people like to get engaged on Valentine’s Day and will spend anywhere from $1,200 to $30,000 on a ring.

“There’s a little bit of a pop but not huge,” Ince said of February business. “It can be and it has been in the last couple of years, I’d say. Last year we did a great Valentine’s Day and I think this year will end up being nice.”

When Valentine’s Day turns into a romantic night, that’s where stores like the Chocolate Walrus at 1278 S. Virginia St. in Reno come in. Store manager Suzie Chandara said her store recently had to hire one new employee to handle good business and that they double up on most items for Valentine’s, particularly lingerie (mostly red, white and pink with hearts), couple’s games and adult toys. Chocolate-covered strawberries made by sister company Sierra Nevada Chocolate Co. are also big right now, she said. But although this time of year is busy, the busiest for the store is Halloween.

“It’s been hard at times but it depends on the day,” Chandara said of business overall. “It picks up and it goes down. We’re still doing good, still going strong.”
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