By Chris Berendt Staff Writer
February 13, 2014
Does a rose bouquet arranged under the most inclement of wintry weather smell just a little sweeter? When local florists are working through the elements to ensure that bouquet finds its way to a loved one on time, maybe it does.
Amid a weather event that has blanketed Sampson County with snow, ice and everything in between, canceling school and work for many and causing power outages that still had some county residents in the dark on yet another snowy day Thursday, you might think that Valentine’s Day takes a back seat — local florists and intelligent men know better.
At Edna’s Florist in Clinton, they were hard at work Thursday after losing a day of work to the weather Wednesday. With the big day Friday, owner Edna Carr said they would be working as long as it took to fill orders.
There were already nearly 50 orders that Edna’s crew was culling through Thursday morning, and that does not include the large amount of foot traffic that usually converges on the longtime florist on Valentine’s eve and the holiday itself.
“It’s been hectic,” said Carr. “For Valentine’s Day — let’s put it this way — I usually order about 3,000 roses and we get rid of them. That’s what I’ve got in here right now. We get rid of them and we usually have to buy more off the trucks, but this is an unusual Valentine’s. I’ve never seen one like this, and I’ve been in it going on 48 years. I’m the oldest florist here and never seen it like this.”
Carr recalled Clinton getting snow the day before Valentine’s Day many years back, but it was a dusting. Everyone at Edna’s was working that day and, by the next morning, the snow was gone.
“Not this time,” said Carr, who conceded the delivery arrangements this year have had to be modified as a result. “We (usually) make the deliveries anytime they want. This time it’s different. Since this year has been like it is, I’d rather (have customers pick up) than put my people on the road.”
Delivery orders were set to be cut off at lunch Thursday, with all calls made after that for pick up only. That is something that is done every year, to give Edna’s time to get everything together to be delivered. However, four people are normally standing by to make deliveries, but Carr said she does not want to put the people or the trucks they are driving at risk of injury or being stranded.
“It’s a bad decision to (have to) make, especially on a holiday like this,” Carr said. “This is what carries us through to the next holiday. We’ll stay and arrange them but they’re just going to have to pick them up. I’m not going to put my people out on the road to deliver. If they live right around here in the city where the streets are clean, we might be able to deliver it. If it’s out in the country, it’ll have to be picked up.”
Even though wintry weather and treacherous road conditions have confined many to their homes, that does not mean the demand for Feb. 14 flowers has dwindled. Along with bread, milk and other essentials, flowers aren’t too far down the list in the middle of February. Carr said her phone has been as busy as ever and, when her daughter Lisa Davis went to the store Wednesday, she had three different guys approach her wanting to know if the store was open and if they could pay for a dozen roses on the spot. Two of them actually did.
“She came back with two orders,” said Carr. “They said ‘we’ll pick them up today.’ She told them we can’t even get (to the shop) today.”
But on Thursday, Edna’s Florist’s finest Connie Miller, Amy Kelly, Sandi Freeman and Carr herself were hard at work putting together dozens of arrangements. Lisa was out running errands, but Lisa’s daughter, Sara, off from school with another snow day, was helping Kelly put together a bouquet of a dozen roses — one of many.
Just across downtown Clinton, at Stacey’s Florist & Gifts, owner Stacey McNeil was also prepping orders Thursday.
“It’s been hit and miss, but people are placing orders. Hopefully a lot of people will come in today and tomorrow. It’s been steady, but not like it would be if it was sunny out,” McNeil attested, echoing Carr’s assessment that florists depend on Valentine’s Day business. “Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are two of the busiest holidays. Valentine’s is the biggest.”
While traffic has been steady, there is no doubt that the wintry weather has cut into the overall numbers so far. McNeil shared her optimism that the clouds would soon part.
“I think it will pick up tomorrow, with people coming out at the last minute,” said McNeil.
Stacey’s has trucks on hand and will be making deliveries through the day Friday. Where those orders might be going is still very much in the air, a likely reason why some have held off on placing their final arrangements, McNeil noted.
“No one knows if their wife is going to be at work or at school, or if they’ll be at home,” she said.
Carr has gone to her shop at all hours to talk about floral arrangements for families for a variety of occasions and been woken up in the middle of the night to put together door badges for funeral homes. The weather was just another hurdle that needed to be surmounted to get a florist’s job done.
“I’ve got three girls, they’re all in the florist business and they’re all in the same situation I am,” Carr remarked, noting that in addition to Lisa, she has daughters in Garland and Four Oaks.
Even as another wintry mix was making its way toward Clinton and Sampson Thursday afternoon, the women at Edna’s were settling in to ensure Cupid found his mark and customers were satisfied. They even joked that, with many snug tight in their homes, there might be a spike in orders of pink and blue arrangements around the middle of November.
“We had planned on taking off Saturday, but we’re going to work Saturday. We’ll work Sunday if it takes it,” Carr said. “We’ll work as long as we can, as long as they’ll pick it up. And we’ve got the flowers to do it.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 901-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.