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Area businesses, residents feel Valentine's Day rush

By JR Ortega
Feb. 13, 2012 at 5:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 13, 2012 at 8:14 p.m.

Customers crowded McAdam's Floral on Red River Street Monday as they searched for last minute Valentine's Day gifts.

Valentine Facts

The average annual Valentine's Day spending is $13.19 BillionAbout 180 million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged annually.The average number of roses produced for Valentine's Day is 196 millionAbout 85 percent of Valentine's Day cards are bought by women.About 73 percent of flowers are bought by men.About 14 percent of women send themselves flowers on Valentine's Day.The average consumer spends about $116.21 on Valentine's Day.About 61.8 percent of consumers celebrate Valentine's Day.Source: Retail Advertising and Marketing Association and the Valentine's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey

"Cookies by Design, this is Annie," greeted the somewhat out of breath, cheerful woman.

Annie Vahalik is the owner of the Victoria Cookies by Design, a cookie bakery, which has survived 13 Valentine's Day rushes - and after Tuesday, 14.

"Valentine's Day is the busiest holiday," she said, as the sound of clanging bake pans and an incessant ringing phone drowned out her voice.

For the past several days, and even on Valentine's Day, lovebirds have surfed Crossroads businesses far and wide in search for that perfect gift to say, "I love you."

Cookies By Design was no exception.

To cope with the extra rush, Vahalik makes sure her shop is fully staffed. Their most popular cookies are red, white and pink heart-shaped cookies.

This year, as with every year, several hundred orders have been requested; but fortunately, Cookies by Design also accommodates last minute lovebirds.

"I'm a last-minute person too," Vahalik said. "We all know how it is when you need something last minute and we always do our best."

Equally, if not even more busy, was McAdam's Floral, which greeted its call-in customers with a never-ending busy signal because of the in-shop Valentine's Day hustle.

Restaurants weren't the only businesses crammed with a lunch rush, so was McAdam's.

People took their lunch breaks to buzz throughout the shop, some looking for something unique and special and others just wanting something more classic, such as red roses and boxed chocolates.

Malachi Brooks, 19, stopped by the store and placed his order.

The Victoria man bought flowers for his girlfriend, Kelcee Borden.

"This is our first Valentine's Day," Brooks said.

Brooks was unsure of what to get his girlfriend, so he decided to go to the person who would know his girlfriend best.

"It's pretty hard picking something out," he said. "I've asked her mom for help."

Meanwhile, Sylvia Figueroa, a mother, looked around the store to find something just right for her daughter.

Figueroa, a 51-year-old Victoria resident, has made getting her daughter something for Valentine's Day a ritual.

Figueroa goes to different businesses around town each year in search for that special something. This year, she's looking at some sort of cute, decorative arrangement.

"I think it's the thought that counts," she said.

This Valentine's Day rush is nothing new, said Clay Atchison, who owns McAdam's along with his wife Cynthia.

The shop was busy all day Monday and was prepared for the even more late lovebirds on Valentine's Day.

Like Vahalik, he understands the lateness.

"I'm a guy," he said laughing. "That's just our nature."

The shop, which typically has a staff of about 11, has to increase the staff to 40 for the day before and the day of Valentine's, Atchison said.

The Atchisons purchased 8,500 roses this year, and they are definitely going fast, he said.

Atchison has his own funny Valentine's Day story. For him, shopping for his wife is even more difficult, because you can't exactly get your florist wife flowers.

So last year, he proclaimed his love for her on an electronic billboard.

"You've got to think outside of the box," he said laughing. "It's a guy holiday."

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