Retailers struck by Cupid's arrow

Coming during the heart of the post-Christmas shopping doldrums, Valentine’s Day is an event retailers have grown to love.

Jewelers, florists and purveyors of sweets ramp up for Feb. 14. The National Retail Federation estimates Americans will spend $15.7 billion on Valentine’s-related purchases this year, with the average person shelling out $116 for cards, jewelry and delicacies. And local vendors who have survived the Great Recession are angling for a piece of the action.

“Valentine’s Day is phenomenal for the business,” Cathy Whitaker, owner of Cobblestone Gift & Floral in Burbank. “We are busy, busy, busy all next week, putting in lots of extra hours.”

Whitaker said Mother’s Day is her biggest day. The triumvirate of Mother’s Day, Christmas and Valentine’s Day account for as much as 30% of the store’s annual sales, she said.

Roses are a staple, of course. Whitaker said she buys only the best even though wholesalers raise their prices as the holiday nears.

“We get them from Ecuador every year,” she said. “I will not compromise.”

And then there are the sweets.

“Valentine’s Day is the single busiest day of the year,” said Joe Terpoghossian, owner of Mignon Chocolate. “Everybody has a wife. Everybody has a girlfriend. Everybody needs chocolate.”

Terpoghossian, who has retail shops in Glendale and Pasadena and a factory in Van Nuys, said he will temporarily triple his sales staff as the big day nears.

Popular items, he said, include chocolate-dipped strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. He is arranging fruit shipments from Oxnard for the end of next week, so that the fruit will be as fresh as possible when store staff do their dipping.

For the do-it-yourselfer, owner Tom Samaha of Jane’s Cakes & Chocolate Supply in Montrose has the goods, from edible glitter to heart-shaped jimmies.

“Right now, all the heart-shaped cake and cupcake molds [are selling],” Samaha said.

Jane’s also offers baking classes. The subject of Monday’s course, available only to those who signed up for the full five-week class, is heart-shaped baking.

The National Retail Federation survey found that gift cards account for more than 52% of Valentine’s purchases. Jewelry comes in second and is expected to represent 17% of the market this year, up slightly from 2010.

“Besides graduation day, New Year’s and Christmas, Valentine’s is the other big day for us,” said Steve Stepanians, owner of Silver Jewelry on Brand Boulevard, with many customers going for specialized goods such as engraved rings.

But while retailers will be celebrating because of the holiday, they won’t be celebrating on the holiday.

“My family will be here working for me,” Whitaker said. “My husband will be out delivering; my daughter will be running the register. Then we usually order a pizza and collapse.”

Terpoghossian said there will be no romance in store for him or his wife come Feb. 14.

“We celebrate it a week before every year,” he said. “She knows she won’t see me on Valentine’s Day.”

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World