Shaheen Hossini likes when Valentine’s Day is in the middle of the week.
When the holiday falls on the weekend or a Monday, her floral arrangements business, Crystal City’s Flowers With Love, scrambles to deliver sometimes hundreds of rose bouquet orders as early in the day as possible. The florists can’t encourage people to have their arrangements delivered a few days in advance, because people won’t be in the office to enjoy them for as long.
But when the holiday is later in the work week, it’s easier for Hossini to encourage customers to have early deliveries.
“A lot of times, people are not expecting the flowers on Monday or Tuesday, because they’re thinking Valentine’s is on Wednesday,” said Hossini, a Springfield, Va., resident. “It gives them an opportunity to enjoy the flowers earlier.”
Flowers With Love only has two full-time employees and a part-time employee, but several seasonal employees are hired each Valentine’s Day just to keep up with the high volume of orders.
Ranard Wood, a seasonal employee and resident of D.C.’s Cleveland Park neighborhood, has been working with flowers for the last 45 or 50 years. He loves arranging flowers, preferably tropical bouquets or hydrangeas, but since retirement he rarely works except for at Hossini’s store around Valentine’s Day.
“She’s the only one who can bring me out to do this, because this is insane this time of year,” said Wood, pointing toward Hossini along the arrangement bar, where slews of Ecuadorian and Colombian roses cover the counter.
In the two or three days leading up to Valentine’s Day, Hossini’s store makes about 10-15% of their annual sales. Mother’s Day and the Christmas season are their next busiest times of year, but Valentine’s Day is another level. That demand leads to higher markup for roses in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, as rose growers stop cutting to prepare for the February 14 onslaught.
The markups can range from an additional 100% per rose to as high as an extra 140%, which leads to higher prices for the florists and, in turn, for the customers. Beginning in early December, the prices shoot up, incrementally raising higher and higher closer to mid-February.
The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend two billion dollars on Valentine’s Day flowers in 2018. Total planned Valentine’s Day spending is up nationwide, from $18.2 billion in 2017 to a projected $19.8 billion this year.
“There used to be a time where we would depend on the phones and at a certain point we would turn them off,” Hossini explained. “But now, with internet e-florists, we get so much business from that. We think we’re not that busy but the orders are coming through on the computer.”
“You turn around and there’s 10 orders on the computer and you’re like — ahhh!”
This is the only time of year that Flowers With Love, bought by Hossini in 1998 from the original owner, does a lot of walk-in business. Much of their business comes from party work for the businesses and hotels in Crystal City.
Flowers With Love is one of only a few florists in Arlington, according to Hossini, but having competition from elsewhere in the county is actually a good thing around Valentine’s Day, when there are sometimes just too many orders to fill at the last minute for one store.
“We can only do so much, and everyone wants flowers,” said Hossini.