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Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Cupid's arrow may be slow but hopefully will hit the mark

By Shelley Grieshop

Arleen Sullivan, manager of ABloom Flowers & Gifts, Celina, puts the finishing t. . .

Apparently it takes more than a blizzard to foil a romantic notion.
Coldwater florist Theresa Jutte waded through knee-high snow and jumped shrubs to deliver Valentine's Day roses late Tuesday, just hours before a severe winter storm paralyzed the Grand Lake area.
"Yeah, they were pretty surprised to see me," Jutte, owner of Roger's Flowers & Gifts, said of the recipients who happily accepted the holiday bouquets.
More than a foot of snow was tossed around by 40 mph winds Tuesday evening, closing roads and businesses on the eve of Valentine's Day - it was a florists' nightmare, indeed. The February holiday rivals Mother's Day as the busiest and most profitable time of the year for flower shops, as well as restaurants.
"This will cause a dramatic drop in our business," said Dan Deloye, who owns six area ABloom Flowers and Gifts stores. "We had a lot of orders due to go out today (Wednesday) that likely won't be delivered until Thursday or Friday."
Many pre-ordered deliveries were destined Wednesday for factories and schools that closed before the fresh cut flowers could be packaged and sent, Deloye said from his St. Marys store.
"We're delivering to people in town whose streets are accessible and who have driveways that are clear," Deloye said. "We're calling ahead."
Jutte and Deloye - and many other area business owners - had to dig their way to the front door of their stores before beginning their day. Restaurants counting on love birds dining out on Valentine's Day were either closed by the storm or left with empty chairs and booths.
Deloye's biggest problem was shoveling out his delivery vans, he said. Then he noticed the alley next to his business, which he uses to load up his delivery vehicles, was impassable. A quick call to the city office sent snow plows his way in 15 minutes and like magic he was back in business, he said.
"I'm very happy with the support I've gotten from the city of St. Marys," he said. "Some communities are very good to their businesses, some are not."
On Wednesday, both Jutte and Deloye were delighting recipients within city limits and along major highways, but most rural roads remained out of reach. Most customers have been very patient and understanding about the delays, they agreed.
The florist business is "very seasonal," relying on profits from a few holidays to stay afloat, Deloye said. A snow- storm that slammed Ohio right before Christmas in 2004 was devastating to some, he added.
"Some flower shops closed up for good after that," he said.
Because flowers must be purchased and sold fresh, growers have florists over a barrel at peak holidays, he explained.
"We have to pay the highest premium price for roses this time of year," he said.
In July, he can purchase a single rose for about 35 cents but this time of year it costs $1.75-$2.50 each, he said.
"Thankfully roses typically last two to three weeks," he said.
Local florists are hoping Valentine's Day orders continue to come in as the weather improves. And area chefs have ovens heating up for entrees for two.
After all, it's never too late for romance.
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