Then, there is the floral industry’s Valentine’s Day.
“The unique thing about Valentine’s Day compared to any other business is that you are looking at taking a normal amount of business and multiplying it 20 to 30 times a normal day,” said Frank Lawrence, co-owner of Amy’s Flowers in Sparks. “If Walmart had 30 times the normal amount of people come in on any day what would that look like?”
Amy’s Flowers has been in business at Baring Village across from Reed High School for more than 25 years, and Frank and Anna Lawrence have owned the shop since 1993. The couple has about 30 years of experience in the floral industry having done everything from delivery to bouquet design to sweeping and cleaning the flower shop, and they said Valentine’s Day behind the scenes of their business is “organized pandemonium.”
“It’s our single biggest day of the year, and really it lasts the whole week and a couple days after,” Anna said one week before Valentine’s Day. “And this year it’s on a Friday, which is the busiest possible day it could be on. We have been through enough Valentine’s Days to be able to compare the days it falls on and we know Friday is the busiest.”
Frank echoed those thoughts and said the key to successfully managing a Valentine’s Day comes down to preparation both physically and mentally.
“For us, personally, we just prepare,” Frank said. “We know it’s a big week and week we are not home very much. It’s physically challenging, but it’s what we do and we have done it 30-plus Valentine’s Days each. We know what to expect and we know what we can offer with the customers and come through with that. We don’t extend ourselves beyond what we can do.”
Frank said the majority of the business’ flower orders will be at the store’s refrigerated storage unit by Tuesday and hundreds of deliveries will be done between Thursday and Friday. He said all florists have a difficult task to manage the floral arrangements during Valentine’s Day given that not much work can be done until about two days before the delivery.
“With roses, and flowers in general, you are limited where you can’t prepare things a month ahead of time,” Frank said. “The steady flow of people will start to build up about five days before. That’s when people will really start thinking about it. That day itself is pretty much non-stop.
“We want the flowers in the best condition and quality before they leave here so we know they will be perfect when they get to the houses. If you pick out something beautiful here and we deliver it poorly, then no one wins.”
The Lawrence's said some people in the flower business fear Valentine’s Day and simply hope to “survive” it. Frank said Amy’s Flowers cannot operate in that frame of mind because it leads to mistakes and disservice to their customers.
“It’s frustrating, it’s long hours, it’s hard work but in the end when you walk out of here on Valentine’s Day evening and know everyone was taken care of,” Frank said. “That makes us feel great and I think everyone feels great. The numbers are the numbers, and if we are up 10 percent that’s great, but if you know that every customer who walked in or called or ordered online was satisfied then that is our number one goal.
“I don’t feel rested until usually a day or two following. We will still be doing our regular business when the Valentine’s Day storm ends. We go back to somewhat normal when the doors close the day after the holiday.”
Anna said although she heads up the arrangement and design of the thousands of roses that come in during the holiday rush, she prides herself on customer service.
“It Is a big deal to us because there is nothing worse than walking in to any business and not be greeted or feeling appreciated,” Anna said. “I think we offer that here. You call on the phone and you get me. It is very personal to us and people trust us with a lot of things, and it is important that we perform.
“We don’t want to turn people away and we rarely do. Our customers know that if we are here and the door is locked but they can see us working in the back, they will knock and we will let them in. If we are getting ready to walk out the door and someone calls we will take care of them. We have chased customers down in the parking lot plenty of times.”
To learn more about Amy’s Flowers, visit www.amysflowerssparks.com. The shop is located at 1349 Baring Blvd. in the Baring Village shopping center.