Local florists wanting black on Valentines Day

Click here for a video of Valentine’s Day reflections from people downtown

With Valentine’s Day landing on a Saturday this year, some flower shops worry sales will decrease on what is traditionally one of the largest flower-selling days of the year.

“I’m just hoping for the best,” Anne Schultz, owner of Linden Hill Florist on S. Upton Avenue, said. “I’m depending on Valentine’s Day.”

Several Minneapolis-area florists said Valentine’s Day brings in between 10 percent and 30 percent of their income, making the holiday a much-needed success for shops struggling during the down economy.

Raed Kakish, owner and head designer of Indulge and Bloom on Nicollet Mall, said his store did poorly the past two months as a result of fewer people buying flowers for Christmas and companies cutting flower arrangements in lobbies.

“We’re hoping that [Valentine’s Day] will give us some extra income to make up for the massive loss we experienced this past December,” Kakish said. “Profits wise, it’s what really helps us have money to buy new inventory if we need it.”

Kakish added the economy changed how his store can get new inventory. “It used to be we had 30 days to pay off a product,” Kakish claimed. “Now if you don’t have the cash upfront, vendors aren’t shipping the product.”

Last week, the National Retail Federation released a study that found consumers plan to spend on average $102.50 on Valentine’s Day gifts, down by nearly 17 percent from the previous year. However, more than one-third (35.7 percent) of consumers will buy flowers, almost the same as last year (35.9 percent).

“[Flowers] are a little spendy and I would imagine they are something that could go,” a downtown Minneapolis worker named Ed, who did not give his last name, said. “I probably spent a little bit less, but I got a better deal.”

Ed said he will buy flowers for his wife from a florist and that he already bought flowers for his daughters from 1-800-FLOWERS. He said 1-800-FLOWERS was about $10 cheaper, but the flowers came without a vase.

A big issue for florists is that the holiday falls on a weekend. Most offices are closed, which prevents people from sending flower’s to a loved ones’ workplace.

Cheryl Stommel, owner of Lake Harriet Florist on S. Penn Avenue, said she expects there to be more walk-in business this Valentine’s Day because men generally wait until the last minute to buy flowers.

She added there is no way to know how well she will do, but she said business has picked up in the couple days leading to Valentine’s Day.

Flower suppliers to florists, however, are doing well. According to Michael Weinmeyer, the sales manager at Koehler & Dramm Wholesale Florist on E. Hennepin Avenue, his company has seen a 10 percent increase in sales this Valentine’s Day.

Weinmeyer said Koehler & Dramm have been helping florists with strategies on how to market to consumers, stating that the supplier is “only as successful as the retail florist.” One strategy Weinmeyer said is to have florists make deals with restaurants for flower arrangements.

Another way florists have been attracting business is with deals. Kim Erickson, the general manager at Soderberg’s Floral & Gift on E. Lake Street, said her store offers a walk-in special that includes a dozen roses for about $35. However, Erickson said the roses do not come with a vase or any other plants.

She added people can also buy other flowers that are cheaper than roses. For instance, her store sells tulips that can cost anywhere from $12 to $23.

No one knows for sure how florists will do this Valentine’s Day. If the National Retail Federation’s survey is correct, then florists can look for sales similar to last year’s numbers. It all depends on the last-minute shopping of a predominant male purchasing group.