(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON -- With less than two weeks until cupid's arrow will strike for the holiday to celebrate love, people are beginning to look for gift ideas. Whether you're shopping for a significant other, friend or family member -- female or male -- this Valentine's Day, there are plenty of opportunities in the area.
And florists and bakeries, as well as other stores, are getting ready for the rush.
"We hope we're going to be swamped," said Helen York, owner of Helen's Florist.
Most of the business on Valentine's Day comes from men, who send arrangements to their spouse or girlfriend. "We sell more red roses than anything else," said York, although other blooms, such as tulips, are also popular. "We sell quite a few tulips, but we sell lots and lots of roses."
Loretta Buttry, manager and designer at the Flower Patch in Sikeston, agreed that red roses are the predominant bud given for Valentine's Day. Tulips are also a popular seller there, as well as lilies and other varieties.
"Orchids are really nice, and sometimes people do tropical," she said.
Although it makes up a bulk of the sales, roses for women aren't the only flowers sent, however.
"School deliveries are very big -- probably a third of our orders go to schools," said Buttry.
"We have lots of dads who send flowers to their daughters," agreed York. In those arrangements, parents often include candy or stuffed animals with flowers and/or balloons.
Balloons and candy are a popular gifts for men -- although York figured only about 10 percent of her Valentine's Day sales were for guys.
"We do send flowers, too, but I recommend that they send candy or balloons," said York.
A new business, Whimsy, which creates cookie bouquets, also provides a hot-
selling Valentine's Day gift for men. "Some guys don't like to get flowers, but they like to eat," said Shori Ferrell, one of the owners.
She actually created the cookie bouquets 15 years ago, from her home, and this year is bringing it back and opening a shop on Front Street with two other women. Until the store is open, however, orders can be placed by calling 703-6386.
Balloon cookie bouquets are also available, and Ferrell noted that the business offers free delivery in Sikeston.
"We make a lot for kids too," said Ferrell. "Kids really love the cookies."
Susie's Bake Shoppe is also busy this time of year creating sweets. One of the biggest sellers are chocolate-covered strawberries, she said. Other top sellers from other years include gourmet strawberries and tuxedo strawberries, in addition to the heart-shaped sugar cookies and cakes.
"Mostly people buy for their spouses or boyfriend or girlfriend, but we have some that get them for their kids or parents," said owner Susie Kenedy. "It's a great addition to flowers."
She will also offer candy and cookie bouquets this year, as well as chocolate chip strawberry bouquets. The store will sell sugar-free candies, too "for the people who can't have sugar," said Kenedy.
And for those looking for something different this Valentine's Day, the Historic Midtown Development Group and downtown merchants are offering a new event on Feb. 13 -- a Valentine Chocolate Walk.
Whenever shoppers visit a store marked outside with pink and red balloons, they will be treated to a gourmet chocolate. With a purchase, the customer is entered in a drawing for a $100 cash prize, explained Mandy Pratt, HMDG's executive director. She came up with the idea, something she had heard about from other communities.
Although the chocolate walk is the day before Valentine's Day, when it comes to ordering food or floral arrangements, Buttry advised people to order early.
"We take orders on the 14th, but everything is limited on that day," she said. "You may not get the flowers you want."
In fact, both flower shops are working ahead to get ready for the big holiday, and will double not only their staff, but also the hours they work. "Some of us have worked all night long before," said York, adding that while employees will be there a couple hours later than usual this week preparing greenery and other things, next week is when the big hours will come.
Buttry agreed, saying staff at the Flower Patch has worked to make bows, fix candy bags, decorate the store and make gift baskets for the past two weeks. "Anything except the fresh flowers is what we do ahead of time," she said.
And although they enjoy the business, York and Buttry agreed they, and employees, look forward to the end of the holiday -- which usually doesn't come until Feb. 16, since the day after Valentine's Day generates business for those who forgot the holiday.
"We're so tired (by then) we don't know what to do," said York.