Storm puts slight freeze on Valentine's Day boom

Feb. 14, 2014 @ 06:04 AM

For those with Valentine’s Day plans – and for owners of businesses that typically boom on Feb. 14 – the timing of this week's snow storm wasn’t ideal.

“I’m looking for a recipe for rose soup,” said Cynthia Hicks, the owner of Abigail’s Gifts in Lenoir, which got into the flower-delivery business for the first time this Valentine’s Day. “We may be eating them.”

Hicks and other florists were preparing Thursday to get deliveries out today in the remaining snow – and working to nail down home addresses for deliveries initially scheduled for workplaces that were likely to be closed. Tammy Benfield, the owner of Rockhaven by Delicate Touch in Lenoir, enlisted family and friends with four-wheel-drive vehicles to help with deliveries, and Hicks made sure there would be snowplows in her parking lot this morning.

“We have got a lot of orders to send out and a lot of orders to pick up,” Benfield said. “Is it going to be like it has been in the past? Absolutely not. It’s still going to be good, though.”

For many, the last-minute logistics were a bigger deal than financial impact of the storm. After hiring temporary help, paying employees to work overtime and shelling out nearly twice as much to suppliers for roses, many florists expect only to break even on Valentine’s Day even when the weather is nice.   

“It’s a break-even thing, it’s not a money-maker,” said Tammy Lovins of Town and Country Florist. “It’s a service. You’ve got to hire extra people to deliver, you pretty much call in all the troops, and you’ve got overtime that you’re going to have to pay if you work late. It’s a service to people on any day.”

The weather and road conditions also affected some Valentine’s Day events. Fort Defiance rescheduled its Candlelight Dinner in the Great Hall, originally slated for tonight at 7 p.m., to Feb. 21.

But Caldwell County’s Valentine’s Day weddings – which are hosted by the Caldwell County Register of Deeds and take place in the city-county chambers in the Alden E. Starnes Administration Building in downtown Lenoir – are still on. Seventeen couples are scheduled to be married today, starting at 1 p.m.

In most of the state, U.S. post offices – which deliver a higher volume of mail for Valentine’s Day than for any holiday besides Christmas and Mother’s Day, according to USPS spokesperson Monica Coachman – were attempting to make deliveries. Post offices in the Asheville area were the only ones to uniformly suspend deliveries on Thursday, and the goal was to return to normal on Friday, Coachman said.

On Thursday, Caldwell County restaurants were expecting to have decent Valentine’s business – whether it happens tonight or not.

“I think people are going to celebrate Valentine’s Day one day or another,” said Doug Ellis, operating partner at Fatz Café. “If they don’t celebrate it Friday, they’ll celebrate it Saturday. Like everybody else, we’re just going to take it day by day.”

1841 Café in downtown Lenoir closed Wednesday afternoon, didn’t open for lunch Thursday and had only a skeleton crew for dinner Thursday, but the plan was to open for Valentine’s Day no matter what.

“Absolutely on Valentine’s Day,” said Vicki Setzer, who was hanging decorations inside the restaurant on Thursday. “We’re going to be open.”