Indiana, PA - Indiana County

For sellers, Valentine's Day becomes a run for the roses

by and on February 13, 2014 11:00 AM

As boyfriends and girlfriends, fiances and spouses prepare for Cupid’s favorite holiday on Friday, local flower shops and boutiques are busy preparing, too.

Thousands of red roses are ordered early by local flower vendors in preparation.

“We got 1,250 roses in on Monday, which all have to be de-thorned, cleaned and wired,” said Denise Chresos, owner of the Flower Gallery on Church Street in Indiana.

[PHOTO: Jan Robinson of The Flower Boutique, White Township. (James J. Nestor/Gazette photo)]

Every vendor has stocked up — 2,500 red roses came in this week at the Flower Boutique along Warren Road in White Township. 4,000 roses were ordered by Giant Eagle along Ben Franklin Road, and other shops in the area ordered thousands of the popular Valentine’s Day posy.

Roses, usually sold by the dozen, are in extremely high demand at this time of year, of course. According to the National Retail Federation, 224 million roses are grown for Valentine’s Day, and $1.9 billion is spent on flowers in general.

“Last year we ended up going at 5 a.m. (on Valentine’s Day) to get more roses because we had that many last-minute orders,” Chresos said.

Preparation begins weeks in advance so flowers have time to be delivered to storesand sales can be processed efficiently.

“We start a lot of the prep work at the beginning of the month,” Chresos said, “like folding extra rose boxes and filling in water tubes, making bows.”

According to Indiana Flower Co. on Philadelphia Street in Indiana, the month before the holiday of love, the staff prepares vases and sorts out items.

According to Julie Silvis, of the Flower Boutique, orders for Valentine’s Day gifts, whether they be flowers or other holiday-related items such as balloons, candy and stuffed animals, start coming in the first week of February.

Roses, of course, are the most popular flower to give on Valentine’s Day, but other arrangements are sent as well.

“Lilies, calla lilies, are very popular,”Silvissaid.

Though many area flower vendors offer reduced pricing for flowers for Valentine’s Day, floral prices inevitably go up for the holiday.

“Growers have a lot of prepping to do (for Valentine’s Day),” Silvis said. “They increase the price (of the flowers from the farms), “which makes (shop owners) have to increase the prices at Valentine’s Day.”

Ordering flowers online may be cheaper, Silvis said, but may not necessarily provide your sweetheart a better experience.

“The person receiving flowers will get roses with the thorns around them … they’re not in the vase and you’ll need to give them a fresh cut,” she said.

By buying locally, flowers are properly prepared, cut and watered.

Local shop owners reported that extra staff is brought in for the holiday to help answer phones, create bouquets and make deliveries. Some even have delivery “runners” whose specific job is to run the flowers from the vehicle to the recipient while a driver stays in the car to make the process go more swiftly.

According to Mary Sardone, who owns Flo’s Floral and Gift Shop in Homer City, the number of orders that florists see on Valentine’s Day significantly increases when the holiday falls on a weekday.

“Whenever (the holiday) is on a weekend, sales are down. Everyone goes out to dinner … or they’ll go away for the weekend,” Sardone said. “Having it on a weekday is crazy because everyone wants to send (arrangements) to their special someone at work.”

Flower shops locally, she said, have also seen a drop in sales for the holiday since what she called the “olden days,” about 10 years ago.

“The number has gone down because of the availability elsewhere,” she said. “At one time florists were less concentrated and availability was (limited). Now, there’s grocery stores, pop ups — everyone’s cutting into our industry and trying to make a buck.”

Some shops offer special hours for the holidays. Sardone said she will answer the phone around the clock in case of emergencies.

Some grocery stores and non-floral shops offer deals on roses, such as Valeski’s 4th Street Market’s $19.99 special for a dozen roses and Giant Eagle’s “elite” wrap of roses and organza.

Ellen Matis is the digital media coordinator and a staff writer at The Indiana Gazette. She is the person behind the Gazette's social media. A 2012 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Ellen has a degree in journalism and public relations. Follow her on Twitter, @EllenMatis, or email her at

James J. Nestor is a photographer for The Indiana Gazette.
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