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Strategy, game plans part of florists' Valentine's Day prep (Video)

By BY ALLISON MILES - AMILES@VICAD.COM
Feb. 12, 2013 at 6:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 12, 2013 at 8:13 p.m.

Vicky Fuentez finishes an arrangement for Valentine's Day at The Foliage Shoppe. Fuentez has more than 20 years years experience in floral design.

Still looking to place that Valentine's Day order?

Victoria floral shops include:

Devereux Gardens

• 1313 N. Navarro St.

• 361-573-3246

Expressions Floral & Gifts

• 3809 N. Main St.

• 361-576-0087

The Foliage Shoppe Inc.

• 3304 Sam Houston Drive

• 361-575-6119

H-E-B

• 1505 E. Rio Grande St.

• 361-572-8221

H-E-B Plus!

• 6106 N. Navarro St.

• 361-578-9891

McAdams Floral

• 1107 E. Red River St.

• 361-575-2307

Sam's Club

• 9202 N. Navarro St.

• 361-572-0043

Sunshine Florist

• 1901 N. Laurent St.

• 361-575-4728

Wal-Mart Supercenter

• 9002 N. Navarro St.

• 361-573-0041

know your stuff

FROM A NEWS RELEASEIn 2012, the Better Business Bureau received close to 5,000 complaints about florists - an 18 percent increase over 2011's numbers, according to a company news release. Here, the organization offers advice for those purchasing flowers for that special someone.

Order early.

Valentine's Day is a busy time for florists. To ensure enough time for processing and shipping, order several days in advance.

Ask about guarantees.

Request a written receipt for the order and ask about refund policies in case the delivery is late, never arrives or is in bad condition.

Make sure the florist has your information.

There are times when delivery instructions need to be confirmed or a driver needs additional directions. Make sure the florist has your number.

Do your research.

Check the florist's Better Business Bureau Business Review to see any history of complaints and details about the company before you buy.

To the naked eye, all was calm inside The Foliage Shoppe Inc. on Monday.

Music played throughout the store as customers browsed displays, employees jotted down orders and the day's work progressed.

Behind the scenes, however, wheels were quietly turning in a well-oiled machine. And the shop wasn't alone.

With Valentine's Day a day away, Crossroads florists are putting game plans in gear to prepare for a glitch-free holiday.

Valentine's Day means big business in the flower industry, and it's important to go in prepared, said Stanley Schweke, owner of The Foliage Shoppe Inc.

His shop will have greenery inside the vases already and extra orders prepared on the holiday to assist with late orders, he said.

"We call Valentine's Day a man's holiday," Schweke said with a smile. "It's for the women, but the men wait until the last minute."

A 53-foot refrigerated trailer in the shop's alleyway provides the business a safe place to store prepared orders, he said, while a color-coded system helps employees separate orders by sections of town so that drivers save both time and fuel.

Although the store tries to take as many orders as possible, at some point Thursday the phones will shut down so they don't become overloaded, Schweke said.

"It's always a challenge, but at the end of the day, when we're through, it's nice to have happy, satisfied customers," he said. "But to do that, we have to be as organized as possible."

Previous experience makes a world of difference when it comes to planning for the big day, said Clay Atchison III, co-owner of McAdams Floral. He joined his father-in-law's company in 1990 and purchased the shop nine years later.

"The best thing you can do is just take notes on how the Valentine's Day went the previous year," he said. "Read over your notes, see what didn't work and make adjustments."

Prepping orders for delivery isn't the only concern, he noted. It's also important not to take on more than the company can handle.

"If you don't make the delivery as a customer requested, it puts a big old knot in your stomach," he said. "You feel bad. But we try to monitor that so we don't make any promises we can't keep."

Even with the best-laid plans, much of the day's work comes down to the last minute, said Laura Hall, business manager and designer with Victoria's Devereux Gardens. The shop gears up for the big day by preparing bows, processing flowers and inflating balloons, she said, but one can't work too far ahead when it comes to flowers.

"Greening the vases is usually one of the best things you can do beforehand, and once we get the order in, we can put it together," she said, noting the shop also prepares snack baskets early, waiting until closer to delivery time to add the baked goods.

Early deliveries also help, Hall said, noting she tries to divide deliveries between Wednesday and Thursday.

"We tell them that, if they want their flowers delivered on the 13, their loved one can enjoy them all day on the 14," she said. "It usually works out pretty good."

Valentine's Day preparations began between Thanksgiving and Christmas for Expressions Floral and Gifts, said Holly Weber, the store's manager. At that point, the shop started prebooking flower orders with vendors, who then made plans with growers.

Hiring for "holiday helpers," or extra staffers to assist with the onslaught of Cupid's big day, began around the new year, while other preparations continued.

"In store, we promote certain looks," said Weber, who estimated the holiday brings a 700 percent increase in business. "The volume is such that we have to consider a little bit of mass production - a streamline process."

The day might be hectic, she admitted, but it's an enjoyable one. And if anyone at the shop needs a bit of inspiration to keep them going, it's available.

Weber said her daughter gave her a trinket with a bit of advice.

"Keep calm and get your Cupid on," she said with a laugh. "I love it."

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