By Curt Yeomans and Jason Smith
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Jonesboro resident, Bill Marshall, always goes to Morrow Florist and Gifts for Valentine's Day flowers.
He comes into the shop a week or two before Valentine's Day, every year, to place an order for flowers for his wife. This year was no different, as he strode into a nearly empty flower shop on Friday to place his order.
Marshall likes coming to Morrow Florist and Gifts at 1250 Mount Zion Road, because "they take care of me." He comes in before the week of Valentine's Day for a more practical reason.
"Next week, there's probably a line going out the door," Marshall said. "It's going to be so packed, you might not be able to get in."
Business at local floral shops picks up during the week leading up to Valentine's Day, according to local florists. Tim Hendricks, the manager at Morrow Florist and Gifts, is expecting up to 500 orders by Feb. 14. The shop will have as many as nine delivery trucks on the roads on Valentine's Day, he added.
"Most nights, we'll probably be here until midnight," Hendricks said. "We'll leave here at midnight on Feb. 13, and then be back at 6 a.m., on the 14th.
As Bill Marshall had his floral order rung up by Mac McCall, an employee at Morrow Florist and Gifts, he was reminded Valentine's Day means mostly non-stop business as spouses and "significant-others" scramble to find last-minute gifts.
"Valentine's Day is crazy," McCall said. "[Bill Marshall] is right, there probably will be a line going out the door. Occasionally, you'll get about 10 minutes of calm where there are no customers, but then it suddenly picks up again. You don't get many of those 10-minute breaks, though."
Store manager Hendricks said people who want to pre-order a floral display for a Valentine's Day gift need to do so by Feb. 12. Florists need time to prepare vases and flowers, and to plan delivery routes for Valentine's Day, he said.
A rose is still a rose in Clayton or Henry county
Stacy West, manager of McDonough Flowers and Gifts at 162 Keys Ferry Road., says when it comes to buying gifts for Valentine's Day, many of her patrons opt for the classics, but dress up their choices in unique ways.
"Most [Valentine's customers] want roses, or are interested in our holiday specials, because they're in some type of keepsake container," she explained.
Other choices for shoppers, who want something that stands out, West said, are calla lillies, rose petals and candles. Cala lillies, she said, make "high-style arrangements," while rose petals and candles add an element of romance to Valentine's Day.
West said the week of Valentine's Day typically brings a 300 percent increase in sales, compared to a normal week of business. Five delivery trucks are in operation in preparation for the holiday, as opposed to the usual one or two vehicles.
Hendrick said there are always years where a certain type of flower, such as tulips or lillies, are more popular than it is in other years. Customers also buy Valentine's Day cards, some candy and a stuffed animal or two, he added. It is the rose that always remains the "definite" favorite among customers, though, he said.
Will you marry me?
West said Feb. 14 is often chosen as an ideal date for wedding proposals. However, she said men who anticipate popping the question are often not prepared for the occasion as one might suspect.
"Sometimes, flowers may be the last thing you think of," she said. "You're worried about the ring, or something like that."
Still, she said Valentine's shoppers - and particularly those in brand-new relationships - normally have a "good attitude" when they enter her store.
"They're caught up in the emotion, and they want to make a good impression," she said.
In addition, West said many of the gifts in her store, prior to Valentine's Day, are purchased by women.
"It seems more common nowadays to send men gifts from a flower shop," she said.
The flower shop, according to owner Karon Barnes, is currently participating in a promotion through Teleflora, in which customers can register to win a $50,000 pair of earrings, or a diamond necklace. With the purchase of a "diamonds and roses" bouquet, patrons receive a game piece and pin number, which can be entered at www.diamondsandroses.com. The promotion ends at 11:59 p.m., Feb. 29.