The Dart: Florist prepares for big day

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 17, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; Talk about trial by fire. On Sunday afternoon, a day when most would be taking it easy, Ashley Noland and Danielle Tucker were learning the ropes of the floral business the hard way &8212; arranging vase after vase of flowers for Valentine&8217;s Day.

No, those bouquets of roses, candles wrapped in red and white, teddy bears and candy bar bouquets &8212; yes, there is such a creation &8212; don&8217;t just materalize. While others played the weekend away and slept in the wee hours of the morning, they and their co-owners at Vidalia Flowerland were busy filling orders for their biggest holiday of the year.

&8220;It&8217;s our Christmas,&8221; owner Ed Turner said.

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In all, that one florist&8217;s shop orders 1,500 to 2,000 roses every Valentine&8217;s Day, to fill orders that start coming in about two weeks before the big day. (Hint: it&8217;s this Tuesday.)

And it certainly pays to order early, for the orders are delivered on Valentine&8217;s Day in the order they were received, head designer Gloria Simmons said.

The shop contracts with drivers just for Valentine&8217;s Day, delivering arrangements as far afield as Sicily Island and Deer Park. It also adds extra staff in the front of the store as well as in back, where the arranging takes place. &8220;All these tables will be covered with made arrangements,&8221; Turner said, making a sweeping gesture across the room.

How many is that? Exact numbers are hard to come by, but Turner said one indication is that last year, the store doubled its orders of balloons and flowers from the previous year and still sold out.

The big question, however, is this: What does someone who works around such arrangements all day want for Valentine&8217;s Day?

&8220;Not candy or chocolates,&8221; yelled a voice from the back.