However you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 remains a popular occasion in the U.S. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), consumers enjoy spoiling loved ones, as well as themselves, and look for deals on everything from candy to dinner packages to flowers and jewelry, just to name a few.
A near-record $19.6 billion will be spent on Valentine’s Day this year, according to an NRF survey, and the numbers rank as the second highest in a 15 year history of asking the question, “What do you do to celebrate Valentine’s Day?”
In Berkshire, N.Y., George’s Flowers and Gifts, located at 35 Ballou Rd., a locally owned business since the 1970’s, is in full-swing-busy for Valentine’s Day.
Owner Megan Sweet shared that although roses are a choice among many, and in a variety of colors, many customers request mixed bouquets.
Sweet commented, “A lot of customers request mixed bouquets because they typically last longer.”
Sweet, who has operated the floral shop for about 13 years, also sells a variety of gifts, including selections appropriate for Valentine’s Day, such as handcrafted jewelry, soaps and candles, wind chimes and nature photos and note cards, and many made by local artists and photographers.
The number of florists in Tioga County has declined over the past several years, and for Sweet, she finds it challenging to compete with local grocery chains as well as Amazon. However, she remains confident that her business offers the best in fresh flowers and, accompanied by hand delivery, provides services that others do not, and is also prepared to accommodate last-minute orders.
Next, Sweet will prepare for the busy bridal season ahead. Another challenge, Sweet finds that many brides-to-be search for new ways to make their own creations, noting that websites like Pinterest have sparked a new craft-minded movement.
For the customers who prefer fresh flowers and professional floral artistry, Sweet is ready, and added, “Support local businesses where the money stays in the community.”
In Waverly, N.Y., Jayne’s Flowers and Gifts, located at 429 Fulton St. is a family owned and full service florist, serving surrounding areas along with northeast Pennsylvania.
Christina Norton, a managing partner at Jayne’s, assumed ownership in 2011 from the Jayne family, who had operated the business since 1925.
Specializing in fresh floral arrangements in traditional and modern design, along with dish gardens, balloons, gift baskets and plants, Jayne’s also has a gift shop filled with collectibles, candles, and crystal and military gifts, just to name a few.
Norton commented that although the classic dozen roses are a traditional favorite for many customers at Valentine’s Day, adding, “There are others who want the ‘wow factor’ and are looking for something a little more unique.”
Whatever the request, Norton said that Jayne’s is prepared to create the perfect bouquet or arrangement for each customer’s wish, and will be open until 8 p.m. on Valentine’s Day.
Norton also finds it challenging to compete with a changing marketplace, such as on-line options, and is also preparing for an active bridal season.
Norton noted, “Online order gatherers cannot build a personal relationship with you. Working one-on-one with customers results in knowing what you’re getting.”
A more recent addition to Jayne’s business is merchandise tailored to first responders and the military, specifically hats, pins, flags, custom pieces and other gifts, and Norton believes that the selections are unlike any in the region. Norton also said the business enjoys giving back, and offers a discount to active duty, retired military and veterans.
In Owego, Ye Olde Country Florist, located at 86 Main St., has serviced and delivered within the community and surrounding region for more than three decades, which includes Broome County and northeast Pennsylvania, and has been prepping for another busy Valentine’s season.
Welcoming the freshest-of-fresh flowers daily, and all being direct deliveries similar to wholesalers, Ye Olde Country Florist’s Margie Weiland commented that the flowers are the longest-lasting available.
Weiland explained that roses are popular, however customers can request arrangements be made from almost any type of flower, and also within any price range. In addition, customers can visit the shop and browse items in the “walk-in” cooler, which are arrangements ready-to-go, and Ye Olde also has available candy, balloons and plush selections, all in a one-stop-shopping experience.
Weiland, referring to third party websites, added, “Customers can save on fees if they contact us directly.”
So, whether you plan to purchase flowers for Valentine’s Day or do something else, there are many merchants and restaurants in Tioga County to choose from.
At Riverow Bookshop, located at 187 Front St. in Owego, the book, “Fire and Fury” is still flying off the shelf, but there are countless titles to choose from.
Riverow’s Laura Spencer Eberly explained that the shop sells Valentine cards by local artist Katie Vaz, and shared, “Parents do like to buy books as Valentine gifts for their kids,” adding, “Books are much better than candy.”
But if you’re craving something sweet, or looking for the perfect jewelry or other special gift, several Tioga County shops and eateries are available. If your plan is to go out for a romantic dinner or even a quiet lunch at a local diner, many restaurants are offering up specials, such as a bruschetta chicken wrap at Gigi’s Place in Apalachin.
Gigi’s owner Natalie Richetti, now going into a fourth year at her 568 Main St. location, shares on her Facebook page, “When you support small business, you’re supporting a dream.”
For other activities and special events during Valentine’s week, check out the Owego Pennysaver’s “What’s Happening” column.