Why florists adore Valentines
By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer
Everyone out there except B.J. Whitman can keep on reading this unless she wants her Valentine's Day surprise ruined.
"Last year was a fiasco," said Mary Baltazar, who works as a bartender for Kent Whitman at Ferguson's Irish Pub on Bishop Street. "We waited too long and had to scramble."
So Baltazar ordered the roses for her boss yesterday, at a cost of $104.78. She also has made it her self-appointed task at Ferguson's to remind all of the men at work to order roses for tomorrow.
"Flowers can never be a bad thing, unless they're dead or they belonged to a girl before you got them," Baltazar said. "Recycling is not allowed."
Her order-in-advance attitude is translating into a busy week for florists.
Valentine's Day falls on a Friday this year, which gives boyfriends and husbands an extra day to get their orders in, which in turn translates into increased business for some florists on the single busiest day of the year for them. (Women love getting roses delivered at work, florists say, and sales drop off decidedly whenever Valentine's Day lands on a weekend).
Last year, Valentine's Day came on a Thursday in the middle of the economic slowdown that followed Sept. 11. So far this year, it looks like sales of a dozen long-stemmed red roses which range around $100 will be equal to last year's, or slightly higher for some florists, they said.
"We have an extra day this year, which is a big plus," said June Nakamoto, who owns Beretania Florist with husband Howard.
"The economy doesn't seem to be making a difference even though some guys might not be able to eat lunch for a couple of days. Their girls say, 'Don't get anything for me this year.' But if they don't send anything, man, they're in trouble."
At The Picket Fence in Kailua, owner Sadie Akamine brought in five extra workers plus four others to make deliveries tomorrow.
"It's going crazy," Akamine said. "I think it's because it's on a Friday."
Like other florists, Steve Fujikami of Fujikami Florist bought his roses this year from South America some 600 dozen. But his sales are relatively flat compared to last year's lower sales.
"It's definitely not up," he said. "It's not way down, either."
Nakamoto won't know until after Valentine's Day exactly how busy she's been at Beretania Florist, although she suspects that sales are up 10 percent over last year.
She has an extra dozen workers on hand. A 20-foot refrigerated shipping container is already filled with 400 dozen roses and there's another 40-foot container.
"When the economy is down, emotions get stronger," Nakamoto said. "And flowers are emotional, so people want to make others feel better."
But Eric Bernardo, a 36-year-old liquor clerk who works at Honolulu International Airport in catering and sales, had the best reason of all for spending money on roses for his wife, Maryann.
"I love my wife," he said.