Sunday, May 22, 2022

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Business Feature

The business of Valentine’s Day


Red roses, boxes of candy, cards, dinners and diamonds — these expressions of love and affection are hits for Valentine’s Day, which is now one of the biggest annual retail holidays. The National Retail Federation reports that 2021 saw $21.8 billion spent on Valentine’s gifts for that special someone. The biggest winners are, as may be expected, flower shops, candy companies, clothing stores and jewelers.

The greatest spenders on Valentine’s Day are men. Catering to their Valentine’s customers, businesses will expect last-minute gift purchases and day-of orders. As a result, businesses will see a spike during the days leading up to, and including, the day of the holiday before quickly returning to normal.

Tom Boesen of Boesen the Florist enlists 10 times the delivery drivers for the anticipated 2,500 Valentine’s Day deliveries his business will make.

Roses say, “I love you”

Tom Boesen is the third-generation owner of his family flower business. The company dates back to when his grandparents opened a single flower shop in September 1923. Originally known as Beaver Avenue Floral, the business grew to become Boesen the Florist, one of the 25 largest florists in the country. At one time, the company had 17 locations. It now has two. However, Boesen said sales are better than ever because of the Internet. 

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“I think the reason for our 100-year success probably is, we cherish every customer,” he said. Boesen believes his business needs to respect each customer and not take any for granted. 

For the floral business, Valentine’s Day is the single biggest day of the year. 

“Valentine’s Day is monumental. It’s a task, and even people in our industry don’t always meet the task,” said Boesen. But he doesn’t want the Boesen experience to change for any of his customers. “It’s the same services we do every day, just a hell of a lot more of them,” he promised.

For Boesen to do well on Valentine’s Day, he says the company must anticipate its needs ahead of time. In the floral business, everything has a shelf life, so Boesen depends on getting the right quantity of products. For 2022, Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday. 

“We had to go back to 2011 to look at the last time it fell on a Monday,” Boesen explained. This year, Boesen anticipates more than 2,500 deliveries on Valentine’s Day. Beyond having the product, he also depends on his people. For the holiday, Boesen needs to have 10 times the staff and 10 times the drivers. Most years, he will have previous employees, off-duty police officers, off-duty firefighters and others use their cars and pay them per delivery.

The biggest seller on Valentine’s Day is the rose. 

“Nothing’s going to beat the rose. Red rose means ‘I love you,’ ” Boesen said. He has ordered 25,000 roses for the holiday. Men tend to wait until right around the holiday to place their order, he said, and that’s why Boesen will see most of their orders placed between Feb. 11-14. 

“We wish they’d order in advance,” he joked. Meanwhile, the extra workforce and resources are lined up for the big day. 

David Stam, co-owner of Chocolaterie Stam, says the shop has extra help at the counter for Valentine’s Day, as well as offering pickup for online orders to meet demand.

Sweets for the sweet

David Stam is the co-owner of Chocolaterie Stam, a European-style confectioner. Most of their recipes date back to his grandfather from 1913 Amsterdam. Stam Chocolate has been in the United States since 1997, and Chocolaterie Stam has been in Des Moines since 1997 as well, with three stores in the metro today. Stam said their chocolate is only available at one of their 11 U.S. stores; otherwise, it takes a trip to Europe to obtain it. The ingredients are directly sourced from stores and manufacturers in Europe. Stam imports the raw ingredients and turns them into confections. 

“We don’t per se make chocolate; we make chocolate into sweets,” he said. The stores not only offer chocolates, but gelato and their own coffee blend. 

Similar to the floral industry, Valentine’s Day is the single busiest day of the year for Chocolaterie Stam. Feb. 13 and 14 comprise a huge amount of Stam’s annual business.

“Valentine’s Day means a lot to us, as well as, we hope, it means a lot to our guests,” Stam said.

Chocolaterie Stam offers a variety of ways for customers to order their chocolate all year long. Customers can come to the store to handpick the chocolate they want, and they can also go to the eCommerce site to place orders for pickup or delivery within a 5-mile radius. 

On Valentine’s Day, Chocolaterie Stam runs the store a little differently to meet the high demand. Sometimes, the line starts in the store and goes out the door, and it can be that way for 10 or 11 hours. To accommodate, Stam will have an additional four people behind the counter, as well as hosts going up and down the line to hand out free chocolate to guests. Stam’s best advice for Valentine’s Day customers: skip the line and take advantage of the special pickup area designated for online orders. 

Stam’s biggest seller around Valentine’s Day is a collection of bon-bons inside an edible heart box.

“If you get a Stam box for Valentine’s Day, it means something,” he explained, adding he hopes the heart boxes remain an iconic Valentine’s Day gift. Another common gift around the holiday is the store’s jewel box, which comes in either a single-layer, 16-piece option or a two-layer, 32-piece option. 

Christine Osborne, general manager of Christopher’s Fine Jewelry and Rare Coins in West Des Moines, says they not only have a boost in sales for Valentine’s Day, but also a jump in engagement ring sales around the romantic holiday.

All things diamond

Christine Osborne is the general manager of Christopher’s Fine Jewelry and Rare Coins in West Des Moines. Christopher’s has offered a wide variety of jewelry, diamonds, watches and repair services in the community for 40 years. The company moved to its new location, just outside of Jordan Creek Mall, two years ago. Christopher’s has a team of five salespeople who are “great diamond experts, great fashion experts, and super great with repairs as well,” said Osborne.

“For Valentine’s Day, we think of love, and we think of all things diamond,” said Osborne. Around Valentine’s Day, Christopher’s sells exactly what they specialize in: diamonds. Whether it be diamond earrings, necklaces, bracelets or rings, the gem is considered the right gift for the holiday. Additionally, the store sees an increase in engagements around this time of year. The bridal counter becomes particularly busy around Valentine’s Day, which means more diamond engagement ring sales, too. 

A lot of “fun gifting ideas” are popular for the holiday as well, said Osborne. This includes the current trend of paper clip chain necklaces and earrings. 

“We always like to say that guys are kind of the last-minute shoppers,” Osborne laughed. She expects most of Valentine’s Day shopping to be made 48 hours ahead of time. Sometimes Osborne sees some guys stop in right before dinner. But Osborne promised that Christopher’s is open and ready for those customers.

Besides quality products, Osborne wants customers to know that Christopher’s has quality service, too. Nobody needs to have all the answers this Valentine’s Day. Christopher’s is there to help, she said. To serve the community “is really our joy to do that, especially this time of year when people want to commemorate love.”

Expressions of love

Whether it’s roses, chocolates or diamonds — or any other special gift that says, “I love you,” Valentine’s day draws shoppers looking for that “perfect” gift for their loved one. Local retailers are gearing up for what many say is their biggest and busiest day of the year. If you are one of those shoppers, rest assured that local shop owners are prepared for the rush and will help you find just what you are looking for.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to shop early. ♦

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