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Love is in the air as Valentine's Day approaches – and so is spending

The Valentine’s Day catalogue at Gainesville Flowers with various flower types combined to create striking and romantic bouquets for the Valentine’s season. (Daisy Chaskin/WUFT News)
The Valentine’s Day catalogue at Gainesville Flowers with various flower types combined to create striking and romantic bouquets for the Valentine’s season. (Daisy Chaskin/WUFT News)

A beautiful rose bouquet.

The warmth from a fresh candle.

The captivating smell of sweet pastries.

Valentine’s Day is the time for each of these things – and the ultimate promotion.

Feb. 14 is highly anticipated in retail environments each year, and Gainesville’s local economy is ready to reap the financial benefits of love.

This year, the season of love is viewed by many as the optimal time to skyrocket revenue.

Kim’s Cookies, a student-run cookie delivery service operated by Ryan Anderson and Emma Ward, launched in January.

They are amazed by the chaos of the Valentine’s rush.

“You don’t realize how quick butter goes until you’re making five batches a day,” Anderson said.

In addition to securing a surplus of ingredients, the Kim’s Cookies crew is planning for the influx of sales by prioritizing timeliness while having fun.

Price inflation could potentially impact the business’ revenue.

Despite the potential necessity of surge pricing, Kim’s Cookies is determined to satisfy its largely student customer base with a holiday special.

“I think with our demand and the holiday coming up, we might have to increase prices,” he said. “It is just the two of us college students running the business here in Gainesville.”

Other businesses that supply romantic staples rely on this special day to ensure they hit yearly revenue goals.

Elle Naeter is an associate for Gainesville Flower, a local flower shop that has been in operation for over 10 years. This is her second Valentine’s Day since working for the company.

“Valentine's day is our biggest day,” she said. “We expect at least 300 orders, and 20% of our yearly sales come from Valentine's Day.”

This holiday enables Gainesville Flower to cater directly to its primary customer base, which consists of 30- to 40-year-old residents in relationships, she said.

According to Naeter, bouquet orders began as early as a month ago, and the employees anticipate them rapidly multiplying as the holiday approaches.

“We have been really on top of color-coding orders and mapping everything out so we aren’t too overwhelmed when the day finally comes,” she said. “The environment in the store is pretty hectic, but it's fun hectic, and the entire staff comes together at the end of Valentine’s Day to celebrate the good business for the store.”

Naturally, the day of love frequently lends itself to mass consumption of sugary treats. Angelo Porta, Manager of Gigi's Cupcakes in Gainesville, shares that Valentine’s Day results in a higher sales volume, especially with special promotions and pairings.

A partnership with Selection Italian Wines is well underway, and Gigi’s Cupcakes will be serving its white and sparkling wines to complement the sweetness of the freshly made desserts, he said. A featured Valentine’s menu has been launched including some of Gigi’s best-sellers as well as themed goodies to ignite the holiday spirit.

“There is a new flavor called Vanilla Amore, which has yellow cake with actual amaretto liquor inside and butter cream amaretto frosting and a maraschino cherry on top,” he said. “There are a few specialty items specifically for Saint Valentine’s available until the end of that week, and these are what increase sales by 10% in the month of February.”

Porta employs a customer-centered philosophy at Gigi’s cupcakes to ensure satisfaction from the local community. Despite the dramatic increase in prices for necessities including electricity, water and food, Gigi’s is determined not to raise the prices of its products.

“We had about a 15% increase in cost of goods sold, and this includes all the materials to produce the cupcakes,” he said. “We did not want to increase the cost of the cupcakes right now because we just want to keep our customers happy throughout the season in this way.”

Molly Metcalf, a fourth-year UF student, loves the romantic ambiance of February. She sees the holiday as the perfect time to showcase her love of her boyfriend, Ross Wolpert, to the world.

According to Metcalf, although both favor sentiment over splurge, each one’s desired candies are often present while celebrating.

However, amid holiday cheer, Metcalf acknowledges that retail monopolies capitalize on Valentine’s Day traditions and rob small businesses of survival in the marketplace.

“Valentine's Day is a Hallmark holiday,” she said. “Sales are going to big corporations, and people are getting things from Target, Walmart and CVS rather than local and family-owned businesses.”

The integration of sustainability in purchasing decisions is a common New Year’s resolution. As a bit of a procrastinator in holiday shopping, Metcalf believes giving last-minute sales to local establishments is an ethical aspiration.

“It is a goal of mine to be more intentional and put in effort toward shopping at local businesses,” she said.

Like Metcalf, many feel as though a physical gift is often less significant than the meaning behind it. University of Florida student Dani Sakkal has a thoughtful approach to showing his boyfriend he loves him on Valentine’s Day, and every day after.

“A good gift can demonstrate you listen to your partner and remember cute details about them, even if it’s something they mentioned once,” he said. “As a romantic person myself, I kind of buy into the whole Valentine’s Day gimmick, and I like to get my partner something thoughtful to express my love even if it’s as simple as a handwritten note.”

Although Sakkal prioritizes words of affirmation and acts of service as his love languages, he acknowledges the economic thrills of Valentine’s Day for small and large organizations alike.

“Companies know the corporate value behind a holiday like Valentine’s Day and market their products accordingly,” he said. “They know we are all consumers of a capitalist society, nonetheless a material society.”

Although having romantic companionship on Valentine’s Day is special, Sakkal believes this holiday should be viewed as an opportunity to give and spread love to all entities in your life.

“I hate the idea that being single on Valentine’s Day means you are lonely or unhappy,” he said. “There is so much love and abundance in our lives that do not take romantic forms, and those relationships also deserve recognition and appreciation.”

Daisy is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing