Valentine's Day is traditionally a day to celebrate love and to express affection. The day has also been mocked as a commercial sham of a holiday, the truth, more than likely, lies somewhere in between. Despite what the day means, its celebration has a very real economic impact on local businesses. Flower shops, candy stores and even the local government have all seen a bump in business in the days leading up to V-day.
Erlene George, owner of Cook and Smith Florists, in Dover, says that Valentine's Day brings on a tenfold increase in business, compared to a normal week. Each year she rents extra delivery vans to keep up with orders and it is all hands on deck as far as employees go. She'll begin prepping on Saturday by stocking up on extra inventory and organizing the coolers. She and her husband will spend the early part of next week burning the midnight oil.
"We'll stay as late as we need to in order to get all of the order ready and to make extra arrangements to keep in the cooler for walk ins," she said. "Then we'll be back at 7 a.m. the next day getting everything ready for delivery."
Not every Valentine's has been hectic for George. In 2009 and 2010 she saw a drop off in business, a side effect of the economy. She also noticed the types or orders changed in those years as people were trying to cut costs.
"Instead of a dozen roses people would get half a dozen, some would order mixed arrangements and people stopped adding extras like a box of chocolates, balloons or a teddy bear." George said.
However, things are looking better this year, as sales have increased, she said. Although she admits that the day that Valentines falls out affects sales in her business.
"People usually want to have them delivered at work," she said. "If Valentine's Day falls on a weekend, since not as many people are at work, then people will choose to go out to dinner instead of having flowers delivered."
Feb. 14 can be a popular day to get married. Clerk of the Peace Loretta Wootten said she has performed as many as 16 marriages on Valentine's Day but things aren't always busy. The day Valentine's falls on also has an effect at the office of the Clerk of the Peace. It actually have the opposite problem from George.
"How busy we are all depends on what day of the week Valentine's falls on," said Fran Moore, deputy clerk of the peace, "Most people want to get married on a Saturday, so if Valentine's Day falls during the week then people will do it the Saturday after. This year has been a little slow."
Page 2 of 2 - The Godiva Chocolate shop at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino is a busy spot for holiday of love. They have not been having a slow year according to employee Laurie Hyde.
"We are starting to take pre-orders for our chocolate dipped strawberries," Hyde said. "We're seeing a steady flow in business."
This year has been an improvement so far over the past few, she said. The business is preparing for a busy Valentine's - the store plans to have two to three supervisors on hand and a person on staff solely to handle the dipped strawberries. She seems to think that there might be light at the end of the tunnel.
"The casino has seen a drop-off, but people are starting to trickle back in," Hyde said. "People seem to be having a much better year and seeing things on an upturn."