Find local options for making Valentine's Day extra-special
By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Roses are red, violets are blue. When it comes to Valentine's Day, local businesses can help you get a clue.
On the outside, Valentine's Day is perfect roses and dainty chocolates, but behind the scenes, planning a special romantic interlude on your own can mean pricked fingers and a distinctly burnt kitchen smell. Luckily, every town has some professionals who can help pick out and plan the perfect way to say "I love you" and they have some advice to share.
No. 1 is to plan ahead, don't let a special date sneak up on you.
Judy and Richard Pinkman, owners of How Sweet It Is antiques and chocolate shop in Vero Beach, said for most people, chocolates are a huge hit, but with time, people can take it a step further by customizing the chocolate to fit the person and the occasion.
For a real chocoholic, a box of assorted chocolates may not be enough, but, when the box made of 1.5 pounds of milk or dark chocolate itself, that gift could be just right Ms. Pinkman said.
People like Ms. Pinkman and others in industries where gifts, especially Valentine's Day gifts are often purchased always have anecdotes to share about the sweet, silly and scary parts of past Valentine's Day experiences.
"We had one man come in, he was looking for ideas because he wanted to propose on Valentine's Day and he wanted something chocolate to put the engagement ring in," Ms. Pinkman said.
"He put the ring inside the 1.5 pound chocolate heart box along with the assorted chocolates and he got a yes. They came in the store later together and they were such a cute couple. It was really special," Ms. Pinkman said.
For florists, Valentine's Day means hours and hours of designing arrangements to order and a very small window of time to deliver them, but even when they have high volumes of product to work with, they work with customers to give them the best and positive shopping experience possible.
Kathy Shain, a floral designer at Artistic First Florist in Vero Beach, said she has so many crazy Valentine's Day stories it's hard to even remember them all.
Definitely ordering ahead of time is the best plan, but sometimes even the best laid plans can go haywire, she said.
A unique experience that is forever engraved into her memory is a cold, snowy Feb. 14 when she worked up north. A customer ordered red roses to be delivered to a woman, and when the driver got to the recipient's house, he immediately left to make another delivery, but it wasn't roses.
"The woman was pregnant and needed to get to the hospital to deliver the baby and it was snowing and it was going to be awhile before someone else could come and get her, so he took her to the hospital and she had a baby girl. The lady got quite a few roses that Valentine's Day as you can imagine, but the delivery man quit a few days after that. He wanted no part of doing that again," Ms. Shain said with a chuckle.
Florists do have a small number of women that come and order gift baskets, balloon bouquets or even flower bouquets for the men in their life on Valentine's Day, but 98 percent of the time it's men buying for women, said Ms. Shain.
Some advice for those male shoppers would be to think about what their ladies like, and where they are going to receive their gift.
Teddy bears are soft, cuddly and can be a sweet thing to receive from a sweetheart, but trying to send a 6-foot teddy bear in a flower delivery truck with a dozen vased roses to a workplace with a tiny desk is a little difficult logistically, although the visual impact is tremendous, Ms. Shain said.
Once, a man came in with a very serious and determined look on his face to get a Valentine's Day arrangement for his wife.
"The year before he bought her a red Eureka vacuum cleaner, so this year, he had to do something extra-special. We told him, 'it was the right color, but the wrong day to give it,'" Ms. Shain said.
Adding soft rose petals to a dinner table, bedroom or bathroom automatically ramps up the romantic atmosphere of a location.
"Guys will come in, and they don't know how to ask for what they want, so we try to help them, but we're all women in here and we can just watch them turn blood-red," she said.
Artistic First Floral has partnered with other local businesses in the community to help guys make their Valentine's Day shopping quick and easy.
"We've tried to make it one stop shopping so they don't have to run to 20 places to get 20 things," said Alyssa Hiser.
Partnerships with businesses such as Classy Cupcakes, Mark's at the Pointe Salon and Boutique, Longevity Ladies fitness and spa and new Vero Beach bakery, Patisserie, mean more options for personalizing a gift, she said.
For out of the ordinary Valentine's Day gifts, All Thru the House in Vero Beach has a large selection of unique gifts and art pieces for the home, as well as jewelry, which is a popular and greatly appreciated gift for women, store staff said.
The most important part of a Valentine's Day gift for most women, however, is not the size of the arrangement, the quantity of chocolates or the fuzziness of a teddy bear.
"The biggest thing that women say when they call us to thank us is that they can't believe he took the initiative to do something," Ms. Shain said.
"They just love that he remembered, thought about it, did something and did it on time for them. That's the biggest thing," she said.