LIMA — The Christmas months may be the top shopping season for many retailers in the region, but for those selling sweets, flowers and other romantic knick-knacks, Valentine’s Day means business.
In the latest episode of the Lima News podcast, BoomXYZ, a group of three with business ties to Valentine’s Day discuss what the holiday means, how it’s evolved and what customers expect these days out of their flower delivery people.
“I just think people want an excuse to celebrate,” Sara Anderson, owner of Sara’s Sweets said.
On a typical day, Anderson said her business sees roughly 100 customers walk through the door. On Valentine’s Day, that number swells to around 700 people.
But while many expect Valentine’s Day to feature clientele focused on the romantic love of the holiday, Anderson said that many of today’s customers are looking to celebrate friendships and focus on experiences.
Brenda Barnett, owner of Yazel’s Flowers and Gifts, said she’s seen similar demands from her customers. In prior years, she said the holiday featured a lot of men coming in to buy a dozen roses, which he brought home to his significant other. Now, customers are looking for something less traditional, she said.
“People want the whole experience now, it’s not: ‘Here are some flowers, and now I’m done, honey.’ They want the package — the whole kit and kaboodle,” Barnett said.
Rainbow-colored roses are some of her biggest sellers these days, and customers consistently look to add a bit of customization — like chocolate pizza slices, teddy bears or strawberries — to add style to the gift. Deliveries are also growing in popularity, as a bouquet delivered to work makes a bigger splash.
“It’s not that they necessarily really wanted them, but they want to show everybody else that they got them. That’s a big part of it, too,” Anderson said.
That experience-centric mindset has shifted how business owners like Anderson and Barnett approach the holiday. Customers who make the trip to Yazel’s on Valentine’s Day are served either coffee or beer as they stand in line on the big day. At Sara’s Sweets, Anderson said she tries to some customized offerings for Valentine’s Day. She’s also ran with other random holidays outside of the traditional calendar, like Llama Day, to try to encourage business.
“When you walk in our door, we want you to feel like you have escaped the doldrums of your life for that 10, 15 minutes,” Anderson said.
Betsy Billingsley, marketing director at the Lima Mall, said she helps create such experience-centric events around a number of holidays. For Valentine’s Day, the mall is featuring two — a craft-centric event for kids and a “Gal-entine’s Day” event similar to popular sip ‘n paint-themed outings.
“I don’t think you necessarily have to be in a couple to have fun on Valentine’s Day,” Billingsley said.
While that may be the case, the holiday doesn’t completely ignore its romantic roots. At Yazel’s, Barnett has heard a lot of stories from customers as they chat about their holiday plans, and she’s seen the fallout from romantic deliveries gone wrong.
Some who receive flowers return them because they don’t want to accept the gift, she said. Others can’t guess who sent them the flowers in the first place.
“Valentine’s Day gets a little crazy. It can be a lot of fun,” Barnett said. “Lots of people don’t want to give us the name on the card. That’s the most fun one. (We’ll ask): ‘Will she know who it is?’ ‘Oh yeah, she’ll know.’ But then we get a lot of calls from people who want to know where the flowers are from.”
The full episode of BoomXYZ can be heard online at limaohio.com, or on your favorite podcast streaming service.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.