Hearts and flowers: Local gift shops braced for holiday rush

Cindy Tarango orders Valentine’s Day balloon bouquets for her five children Monday afternoon at Katie’s Flowerland. “I wanted them to feel extra special. They’ve been extra good this year,” Tarango said. (Staff photo: Sharna Johnson)

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Just as lovers monopolize Valentine’s Day, so do certain gifts.

Giving greeting cards, candy, flowers and jewelry are top ways to celebrate the holiday, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The local providers of such commodities have learned to expect the holiday rush, but they also rush to provide their customers with innovative twists on the age-old gifts.

Florist shop owner Blanca Rios said quirky alternatives to staid, red roses have become more popular in the last several years. Among them are flower arrangements anchored around real tree branches and balloons, which her employees stuff with items hand-chosen by customers.

“People bring some crazy stuff to put in (the balloons). Negligee. Sometimes beer or champagne or cigarettes. Engagement rings,” Rios said Monday during a moment sandwiched between a parade of customers and a symphony of phone calls.

At Leslie Candy Co. in Clovis, preparation for Valentine’s Day begins even before Christmas, according to company president Greg Southard.

His staff of 20 begins filling orders for the company’s heart-shaped peanut patties around Dec. 1, he said. These are much more appropriate for the holiday than the company’s trademark circular patty, and sales of the modified peanut treat — made with locally grown peanuts — usually double around Valentine’s Day, Southard said. Chocolate sales increase as well, he said.

In the world of jewelry, there are two especially hot commodities — white gold and pink sapphires, according to Gordon Jewelers’ associate Kayla Williams. This season, the stone and the metal are especially trendy Valentine’s Day gifts, she said.

“It’s the in-thing right now,” she said. Although many customers associate sapphires with blue, other shades — natural and man-made — have “always been around,” she said. And, of course, diamonds also remain bestsellers.

Heart-shaped pendants encrusted with diamonds are also popular, Williams said. But symmetrical replicas of the classic shape have been replaced by edgier re-creations, Williams’ inventory showed.

What is the best gift you’ve ever received on Valentine’s Day?
“My ex-boyfriend left a trail of Hershey’s kisses leading to the bathroom, and he put roses in the bathtub with a note that said, ‘Now that I’ve kissed the ground you’ve walked on and showered you with flowers, get ready for dinner.’ No one has topped that yet.”

— Reanne Tucker

“To me, the gift of the most value is a kiss or a hug. That means a lot more than a diamond.”

— Blanca Rios

“They’ve all sucked. I get all the stereotypical stuff, candy and so forth. Chocolate seems to be the favorite thing to give, and I am not a big fan.”

— Eddie Colyer

Should men spend more than women on Valentine’s Day?
“A man should spend more on that day. It’s a holiday more for women (than for men). Last year, I bought my wife a three-stone diamond ring.”

— Donald McCutcheon

“He better spend more on me!”

— Kayla Williams