By Mira Reverente
With less than two weeks to go until Valentine’s Day, local florists are undeniably in a flower frenzy!
Preparations are underway for established florists like Westlake Florist, who have been in business since 1980. “We are beefing up our fleet of delivery vans, tripling our staff and getting ready to place our orders,” said owner Kathy Pantelas.
Post-economic downturn, Pantelas is guardedly optimistic that this year will be better revenue-wise than last year. She plans to increase her order to meet the demand. Perennial favorite red roses from Ecuador, as expected, are on top of her list, along with lavender, pink and white.
Roses in general are a hands-down holiday favorite with an estimated 257 million roses reportedly produced in 2014, according to a consumer tracking study by Floral Trends. There are also over 120 rose varieties now compared to a few dozen in the 1980s.
“We will carry various-colored roses and for those who’d like to try something else – we will have orchids from Singapore, tulips from Holland, mixed arrangements from all over the world, Turtle chocolates, name it,” said Pantelas.
Designer Ann Monji is sharpening her tools, so to speak, and bracing herself for the busiest weekend of all in the entire floral industry. “Just like in the past, there will be lots of orders of tall and big arrangements, mostly red roses for sure,” said the master floral designer who has been creating dazzling arrangements for Westlake Florist for over 20 years now.
Onslaught of red roses or not, Monji is ready. She says they are also known locally for pavé arrangements, which means “paved” or “pavement” in French. The dense and lush style of arranging flowers close together, characterized by short stems and trimmed-off leaves, is ideal for tabletops, bouquets and topiaries.
Pavé-type arrangements are also de rigueur at Oakbrook Florist, along with other custom arrangements. “It used to be that flower heads in an arrangement were not touching but not anymore,” said owner Patti Ruff.
The Thousand Oaks-based florist has been in business for 34 years. Ruff is also excitedly anticipating the day of hearts weekend, even if the holiday falls on a Saturday this year.
“Historically, florists do better when Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday,” she said. “There’s more business all-week long because men typically want flowers delivered to the offices of the women, so it will be interesting to see how we’ll do this year.”
Ruff estimates her order of red roses will be somewhere in the vicinity of 1,500, or even more. “It sounds like a good number for now but who knows, that might still change,” she says.
For the red rose-averse crowd, Oakbrook Florist will also have carnations, lilies, tulips and orchids in abundance. Not crazy about flowers or looking for some add-ons? Gift baskets, balloons, Godiva chocolates and jewelry will not be in short supply either.
“For some men, it’s that once a year chance to show off and score major points with their ladies,” said Ruff, recalling an unusual request one Valentine’s Day to decorate the interior of a limo exclusively with red roses. “It was magnificent and if it was a proposal, I hope she said ‘yes’ to him.”
If you are not a planner, fear not. Walk-ins are most welcome and almost a given. “Some just don’t plan well or put it off, but we will be ready for them,” said Ruff, who is enlisting the help of extra staff and even family members for the upcoming busy weekend.
Ruff also expects to have longer business hours during Valentine week, to fill early and late orders, and fulfill delivery requests from Newbury Park to Calabasas, and even Moorpark and Simi Valley.
“The recession is definitely over, if not almost over,” said Ruff. “You can tell from how bigger, taller arrangements are trending again, and how people are spending more these days.”
When pressed for floral advice for some swooning Romeos, Shirin Paidar of Florentyna’s Flowers offers this; “Order early for the best selection. If you wait to order till the day of, you may not get what you want because it may no longer be available.”
Paidar hopes her suggestion won’t fall on some deaf, lovestruck ears but her crew is ready nonetheless. Year after year, for the past 10 years, the Calabasas-based florist gets more and more same-day, walk-in orders than pre-orders. “It’s just the nature of the business, I guess,” she said, noting that Friday the 13th will most likely be the busiest day of Valentine week.
Florentyna’s will have the traditional red roses and even tulips, hydrangeas, gift baskets and balloons. Paidar predicts a spike in demand for taller, bigger, lusher arrangements, as discretionary spending is once again on the rise, according to economic experts.
Walk-ins will not be an issue for some local florists like Agoura Flowers, who has no storefront, but expects a drastic spike in sales. A hundred percent of its orders will be phone and web-based for the first time since shutting down its brick-and-mortar store after Mother’s Day in 2014.
To finalize her order this year, owner Anne Levy will just refer to last year’s numbers and go from there. As expected, Ecuadorean and Colombian red roses are must-haves. “They just have this good reputation in the industry – they last longer and the rose heads are bigger and nicer,” said Levy.
Mixed arrangements can be popular, too, as well as gift baskets, chocolates, balloons and stuffed animals, according to Levy, who also wears a floral designer hat for the most part of the year.
Echoing her fellow florists’ sentiments, Levy encourages the men to order early but will also prime herself and her beefed-up crew for same-day delivery requests. “Valentine’s Day is only once a year anyway and even if it’s a crazy kind of busy, it’s great for everyone involved,” she says.