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Valentine business counts on last-minute shoppers

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Owner Adeline Gilmore or Crall's Flower Shop in Monongahela gets help from her granddaughter Lyla Ruev as they put together a bouquet of roses for Valentines day. Jim Ference | The Valley Independent

At the Gene and Boots factory in Perryopolis, workers this week were busily making chocolate- covered strawberries.

These specialty treats are made for particular occasions such as Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Easter.

Bernadine Aten, manager of the Gene and Boots store in Charleroi, said Valentine's Day ranks as the third busiest day of the year behind only Easter and Christmas.

“This year, we've been busy selling a good number of hearts,” Aten said.

National surveys are estimating that consumer spending for Valentine's Day will be up this year.

The National Retail Federation is reporting that a mix of traditional and non-traditional gifts will be popular this year.

Candy will top the list for more than half of the consumers' gift lists with expected sales of $1.6 billion nationally. One in three will give their sweethearts flowers, spending $1.9 billion nationally.

Adeline Gilmore, owner of Crall's Monongahela Floral and Gift, said Valentine's Day is the busiest day of the year, although Mother's Day week is the top week for sales.

Asked if sales are up this year, Gilmore said, “We won't know until Friday because we do a lot of computer work. A lot of people buy by Internet too, especially over the last three to four days.”

The NRF survey estimates that jewelry sales will top $4.4 billion, a trend not lost on one local jewelry business.

On its Facebook page, Marbill's Jewelry in Rostraver Township posted a reminder to consumers: “Just a reminder for Valentine's Day...jewelry is fat-free and lasts longer than flowers :) We have a great selection of gift ideas, stop in!”

Non-traditional items will be on many shopping lists. Gift cards sales will top $1.5 billion in sales nationally.

The Greater Rostraver Chamber of Commerce promoted shopping for Valentine's Day with the promotion “Share the Love, Shop Local.”

Several retailers locally offered promotions in line with that holiday theme such as:

Custom Scrapbook Innovations – 25 percent off a framed one-page scrapbook layout on orders made by Feb. 28.

Chaney's Natural – Save 10 percent on your on-line gift certificate, offering chocolate rose pedicures until Feb. 16.

Thirty-One Gifts – 15 percent off on a gift certificate.

Prima Diva Boutique – Receive a free gift wrap and $5 gift card with a store purchase made by Feb. 16.

Monessen Heritage Museum – Receive a free post card from the Monessen Shoppe when you visit.

Checkers Boutique – Donate a prom gown during February and receive a discount on a new gown.

After picking out gifts, a dinner for two is also on many agendas. Local restaurants try to cater to that demand.

For example, Anthony's on the Mon at Smitty's Marina is offering a four-course meal for two for $50 that includes appetizers, house salad, entrée and dessert.

Rating sales this Valentine's Day will have to wait until late Thursday because last-minute shoppers are the norm.

“A lot of men are last-minute shoppers, “Gilmore said. “They'll come in between 2 and 6 on Thursday. Red roses are popular and they'll go for the teddy bears or the balloons.”

Even on a hectic day, Aten said she enjoys the atmosphere of Valentine's Day shopping.

“It's a fun day,” Aten said. “It's nice to see the men are picking out valentines for their loved ones on Valentine's Day.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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