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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Sweet smell of stress

Thursday, February 12, 2004

They petal their wares year round, but Brazil's floral shops are gearing up for extra customers to be stalking them this Valentine's Day.

Many shop owners said that they will have trouble catching up no matter what they prepare in advance. Bill and Becky McCullough, owners of Friends and Flowers on National Avenue, said that the Valentines Day rush is big, but not their only busy time of the year.

"You have Valentine's Day," Bill said. "That's your busiest day. But then you have December, and that's your busiest month. And Mother's Day... that's just a really, really hectic week all around there."

The McCulloughs said that changes in lifestyle contribute, at least partially, to extra business around these times of year.

"People don't travel to visit family as much," Bill said. "They'll call and order up some flowers to send to the family."

"Everyone loves to get flowers," Becky added. "They're the perfect gift."

While things are pretty busy now, the couple knows that their current schedules are light compared to what they will be in the very near future. Pre-orders, they say, are only a small part of the hectic days to come.

"It's kind of a calm before the storm," Becky said. "We get call-ins, yeah, but we're going to have a lot more business on Friday and Saturday."

"It's starting to get really hectic around here at the same time, though," Bill added. "We're just waiting on the high school kids who call in at the last minute... the husband who was going to take his wife out to dinner, but decided to get her flowers, too."

They did note, however, that the extra business was certainly not a problem.

"Spur of the moment is part of this business, no doubt," Bill said. "We're very happy to fill those last-minute orders. It's a real rush to make everyone happy, but they're all usually satisfied."

By their own admission, they couldn't handle the rush on their own. Fortunately, they have friends and family on standby to help when it gets extremely busy.

"We run the shop," Bill said, referring to adding to the shop's staff. "I'd hate to give a position I couldn't maintain to someone.

"Luckily, we've got a group of people to help us out when these holidays come."

Becky said that many of their contacts come together "as family" to help with everything from making bouquets to delivering flowers. They even help customers decide what they want, showing them around the shop.

"My mom cooks for everyone," Becky said with a laugh. "Fried chicken with all the trimmings. It's kind of an eat-and-run thing... very busy."

Bill added that "you know who your friends are when this time of year rolls around."

"If they come two years in a row, you keep 'em," Becky said with a laugh.

Things are much the same at two other floral shops, Sugar 'N Spice and Balloon-A-Wish, both located in Brazil. Employees at Sugar 'N Spice have been preparing merchandise nonstop, waiting for the rush to come.

"Surprisingly the customers are calling orders in early," Vickie Mace, the shop's owner, said. "A lot of people usually wait until the last minute, so this is a good change... we're waiting 'til the last minute ourselves to make sure things are fresh."

Mace says that she still expects a lot of walk-in customers, but she and her five employees are taking it in stride.

"Part of the romance of the flowers is delivery," she said. "There's something about getting flowers delivered to your doorstep. We've got two people to come in and help us deliver on Valentine's Day."

Lori McCullar, owner of Balloon-A-Wish, said that she is anticipating the rush as well.

"We're hoping we're busy on Valentine's Day," she said. "I know we'll be busy on Friday and Saturday, because we're delivering to Northview."

She said that the shop, which sells "a lot more than flowers," is also expecting to deliver several accessories, such as stuffed animals, candles, and candy.

"We really have everything," she said. "Come in and check it out."

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