Gainesville residents may be breaking a sweat as Valentine’s Day approaches, but local florists’, bakers’ and chocolatiers’ hearts are skipping a beat in preparation for the big day.
At Gainesville Floral Exchange, Tiffany Stanley barely has time to catch her breath.
During the last week, she has helped the store, 635 NW 13th St., Suite C, process more than 500 flower orders.
Stanley, 26, said she expects at least 500 more today and Thursday, a 10 percent increase from last year.
Mother’s Day gets busy, she said, but no day brings her store more business than Valentine’s Day.
“It gets really crazy. People call all day,” she said. “We have lines out the door. People are always trying to come in and pick up flowers.”
Stanley said the store’s best-selling products are roses. The store ordered about 5,000 roses to meet this year’s demands.
During the season of love, Stanley said, UF students account for a large portion of the store’s business.
“We get quite a few students over here,” she said. “We get people calling in and ordering over the phone. We deliver a lot to campus and the [apartment] complexes around here.”
Meanwhile downtown, Natalie Suwanprakorn is preparing chocolate treats at her one-person operation, Armadillo Chocolates.
Although she works alone, Suwanprakorn, 36, had to squeeze some seasonal help into her 100-square-foot kitchen in time for Thursday. The extra hands, she said, will package and deliver.
She hopes her products, a nine-piece vegan chocolate box and chocolate-dipped strawberries, will be a hit at local stores this Thursday.
“I’ve made a really sincere effort to make these chocolates for Valentine’s Day really special with the flavors and the ingredients from local farmers,” she said.
Another source for Valentine’s Day goodies is KB Kakes in Alachua.
Erika Ashley, the general manager of KB Kakes, has worked with her mother, the owner and operator of the business, for several years.
She said the demand for their best-selling product only increases near Valentine’s Day.
“We’ve had the gourmet cake truffles at Dorn’s [Liquors and Wine Warehouse] for four years now, and they’re incredibly popular,” Ashley said.
Ashley said her store doesn’t put out special products near Valentine’s Day. But she said they’ve made more of their signature cake truffle flavors: dark chocolate, birthday cake and strawberry cheesecake.
Along with the traditional Valentine’s Day gift sources, a mother-daughter duo offers a local option.
On the corner of Northwest Third Avenue and Northwest 13th Street stand Michelle John and her 20-year-old daughter, Sarah. John, 40, and her daughter run a roadside stand of Valentine’s Day-themed products from their truck.
On Tuesday, bags of roses, candy, stuffed animals and candles lined the truck bed. There were two customers Tuesday, John said.
Tuesday was John’s first day at the location, and she hopes that sales will improve in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day.
“It’s just convenient,” she said. “Instead of running around like a chicken with your head cut off, you can just get it all here.”
With the clock ticking down to Valentine’s Day, local store owners are bracing for the rush of last-minute orders today.
Stanley said her store is going to be ready.
“The phone’s going to be ringing off the hook,” she said.
Jennifer Russo, 46, left, and Ridgely Fanara, 38, right, gather flowers for floral arrangements in Gainesville Floral Exchange, 635 NW 13th Street, Suite C, Tuesday afternoon.