Business owner: Under stress to make everyone happy on Valentine’s

Feb. 14, 2013 @ 11:32 PM

Staffing more than triples at Chapel Hill Florist to accommodate the boost in business for Valentine’s Day, said Alletta Cooper, who runs the front of the shop for the Franklin Street business.

Cooper said the shop hires delivery drivers, additional designers to make arrangements, and additional sales people to answer the phones. Monday and Tuesday were the busiest days for the shop this week, she said, while the primary work on Thursday was in the hands of the delivery drivers. The shop stopped being able to take new deliveries on Wednesday, she said.

“You reach a capacity where you just can’t, feasibly, deliver more flowers than what you’ve already taken (orders for),” Cooper said.

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2013 Valentine’s Day spending survey by BIGinsight, there was a slight increase expected in sales for the holiday this year. The average person was expected to spend $130.97 on candy, cards, gifts and other items, up from $126.03, the federation reported.

More than half, or 51 percent, of gift givers were expected to buy candy, 36.6 percent were expected to give flowers, 19.7 percent expected to buy jewelry, and additional 15.6 percent were expected to buy clothing. Fifteen percent were expected to buy gift cards.

According to a survey from the U.S. online coupon website RetailMeNot conducted by The Omnibus Co., men were planning to outspend women for Valentine’s Day. The survey of men and women in relations showed that men were expected to spend $287, compared to spending of $164 by women on the holiday.

Kevin Eastin, a co-owner of West End Wine Bar, said Valentine’s Day business at the Durham location is not “terribly significant,” although he expected a strong Thursday. He said it will be better than if the holiday fell on a Friday or a Saturday.

Eastin said Thursday he expected to see couples coming in for drinks or dessert before or after dinner. Speaking just before 5 p.m. about an hour after opening on Thursday, he said he was just starting to see a people come in.

 “Tonight, I’m really just expecting things to end up being right around normal,” Eastin said. “It would be nice to be proven wrong.”

Anna Branly, co-owner The Cupcake Bar, a cupcake shop that opened at the beginning of September in downtown Durham, said Valentine’s Day is a busy day for the shop. She said they had quite a few advance orders, and were busy with walk-ins.

“It’s significantly better than a normal Thursday,” she said. “I bet walk-ins today, (were) at least double.”

Stewart Orgain, general manager of the downtown Parisian-style restaurant Rue Cler, said Thursday that the restaurant was booked for the night a week and a half ago. He said they mostly had tables of two, but had some larger parties.

“It’s the same every year – every year, we’re pretty much booked,” he said.

Seth Gross, owner of Bull City Burger and Brewery, said the downtown restaurant and brewery was doing a four-course, price-fixed special dinner on Valentine’s Day with a white table cloth, served formally.

He said their special dinners tend to sell out, so he said he thought an event on Valentine’s Day would be a good opportunity to do another. He said last year, their special Valentine’s burger and dessert “sold very well.”

“It’s an important holiday,” he said. “There’s an inside joke about it because it’s one of the most challenging days because everybody’s a two-top. Everything becomes a two-top table, and you have to make it work. Everybody wants to have a slow, casual romantic dinner. We’re all under a lot of stress to make everyone happy.”