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Romance is alive and well in Shelby County, or so say merchants who are gearing up for Valentine’s Day.
People express their love and affection for sweethearts, spouses, friends and parents in many different ways, and Shelby’s business community has been busy supplying the traditional flowers, greeting cards, candy, jewelry and gifts.
Have a sweet tooth?
Try some Oreo truffles or red velvet cake balls, but you’d better hurry before they’re all gone, said Carol Flannigan, owner of C.J.’s Candies.
Flannigan, who makes most of her own candy at her shop at 610 Main St., said the economic downturn has not curbed people’s appetites for sweets, especially on Valentine’s Day.
“People just love our Oreo truffles, and the chocolate-dipped strawberries are very popular, too – and don’t forget our homemade fudge.”
Then there are customers who have to come back for more because they got carried away and ate the candy before it made it to its destination.
Some would say that flowers are a must on Valentine’s Day, and Sharon Nichols, owner of Flowers by Sharon, said that the rose has become a symbol a the holiday, especially red ones.
“There’s a lot of people, guys especially, that just think red roses mean Valentine’s Day,” she said.
But that’s not just her opinion. She has a whole building full of roses to prove it.
“I just got an order in of fourteen hundred flowers,” she said. “The shop is piled almost from floor to ceiling.”
Nichols’ shop, located at the corner of 8th and Main streets, also is bedecked with lilies, daisies, carnations and tulips, as some people like a variety, though roses are the clear favorite.
“Our best selling item is a dozen red roses in a vase,” she said.
Nichols also delivers her Valentine posies, a fact that had her worried for a while, because of all the recent inclement weather.
“We’ve been holding our breath all week because we have to deliver in places like Mount Eden and Bagdad, but it’s supposed to be nice, so we should be fine,” she said.
Nichols said Valentine’s Day is the biggest holiday of the year for flowers.
“We do as much business on Valentine’s Day as we do in a month,” she said.
She’s confident this year’s orders should even top last year’s. One reason is because Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday.
“If it falls on a weekend, people go out to eat and the restaurants do a lot of the holiday business,” she said.
Who is buying all these flowers?
“Well, seventy percent is men buying for their wives or sweethearts,” she said.
She remembered her largest order ever, when a man a few years ago ordered 250 flowers for his wife.
“He was either a very good husband, or a very bad one – I don’t know which. I didn’t ask,” she said.
Even though the day for lovers is not on a weekend this year, restaurants are still making preparations for special meals, including the Bell House, which isn’t normally open on Mondays.
“We already have quite a few reservations for Monday,” Mary Andriot Miller said. “And since most of those are for two-tops, we are taking out our big table for the evening, so there will more room for people to have a romantic dinner for two.”
The Bell House’s chef, Johnny Lewis, has planned a special menu for that evening. Three entrees will be offered; diners can have their choice of a filet mignon, chicken breast stuffed with spinach and goat cheese or pan-seared sea bass. The latter entrée is Miller’s favorite.
“He will serve it with a white wine butter crème sauce that’s to die for,” she said.
“And each customer will get a coconut macaroon topped with creamed cheese and a strawberry.”
She sighed in anticipation.
“I just now told him, ‘Johnny Lewis, you have outdone yourself again.’”
Because Valentine’s Day is a day of decadence for all the senses, still others might opt for gifts of spa treatments or manicures.
Anne Matz, an employee at Magnolias Salon at 804 Main St., said the spa sells a lot of gift cards for Valentine’s.
“We do a lot of business related to Valentine’s Day, but since its mostly gift cards, people can come in any time to use those,” she said.
Whatever gift is chosen, a greeting card to go with it is something of a staple on Valentine’s Day, and Elaine Snellen, store manager at Mark’s Hallmark on Boone Station Road, said her staff is ready for that.
“The romantic ones are the most popular, and we also have some very good gifts, and well as candy,” she said.
Snellen said children’s gifts are popular this year, especially recordable storybooks, and Bug’ems, a small zippered pouch shaped like a bug that holds candy.
And for the big kids, don’t forget jewelry.
Carol Strickland, owner of Carol & Co. Fine Jewelry on Midland Trail, says everyone is wild about the Pandora line this year.
“The bracelets are the most popular, but earrings and pendants are also selling well for Valentine’s Day,” she said.
Strickland offers a ray of hope for men who wait until the last minute to do their shopping.
“Sometimes your wife might leave a catalogue laying around with an item circled,” she said with a chuckle. “Call us ahead of time, and if we have it, we will gift wrap it for you, and you can just run it and pick it up.”
The good thing about a gift of jewelry is that is you don’t to regret in later, she said.
“It doesn’t go to your hips, and it lasts longer than flowers.”