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Local retailers feel the love
Valentines Day spending up nationwide
new vlc local retailers feel the love
Great Bend Floral and Gifts designer Jean McAtee puts the finishing touches on a Valentines Day arrangement. Red roses, the traditional symbol for love and romance, are still the most popular choice according to manager Kim Roach. - photo by VERONICA COONS Great Bend Tribune

While the National Retail Federation said consumers are still cautious coming out of the 2013 holiday shopping season, some shoppers may have been holding back in anticipation of the next big retail holiday, Valentines Day.   
Businesses around Great Bend are reporting an uptick in calls and sales for Valentines day.  And this mirrors what’s happening around the country.  While American consumers will be splurging less and budgeting more, the average shopper will spend $134 on candy, cards, gifts, dinner and other gift ideas this year.   That’s up from $116 in 2011 and $126 in 2012.  
Larry McDilda, owner of Family Jewels and Silver in Great Bend received his first Valentine’s Day order the last week of December.  His phone started ringing  the first week of January, and hasn’t stopped since.  
Worried with economic news that this could be a lean year, he’s been pleasantly surprised.  What’s really popular this year?  Heart-shaped stones, he said.  
“Last year, hardly any of my customers requested them, but this year, they’re a hot item.”
Why he can’t quite put his finger on what’s causing the trend, it’s not the first time he’s seen this phenomenon.  
After 40 years as a gem dealer and now a custom jeweler, he was around for the Princess Diana sapphire necklace trend, as well as the Titanic blue diamond and the recent chocolate diamond trend.  (True blue diamonds are very rare, he said, so they are created by radiating regular diamonds.)    
According to Kim Roach at Great Bend Floral and Gifts, Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest holidays for the floral business.  Its only rival is Mother’s Day.   They have orders placed early, but many come in the week of Valentines Day, or even the day before or the day of.  It can get pretty busy in the florist’s studio.  
“We start making bows weeks ahead of time, and we make up several arrangements for the last minute orders we get every year,” said  designer Jean McAtee Wednesday afternoon.  She was putting the finishing touches on an arrangement of a dozen red roses .  “Anything red is popular, but as always, roses are tops.”
For Mother’s Day, customers purchase mostly floral arrangements to send to their mothers, their spouse’s mothers, and their grandmothers, and wives.  But for Valentine’s Day, while they may send to fewer people, they send flowers, chocolate and other add-ons more frequently.  
And while flowers and jewelry are big items for Valentines Day,  Rosewood Wine Cellar’s Dana Allison said  they are anticipating plenty of traffic also.  She and her crew have created several unique gift baskets with a variety of mix and match items that include wine, chocolate, candles, salsas, and many of the items available in the store.  They began receiving orders and requests earlier, but this week will be especially busy they anticipate, despite the snow.  While it may have kept people away for a few days,now that roads are clear and people can get out, it’s crunch time.
But if you’re more the “we like to keep it low key” type of romantic, don’t underestimate the power of a quiet night in.  Pick up a movie at Red Box, perhaps “Bonnie and Clyde,” a box of chocolates and a Valentine’s Day card, and cuddle up on the sofa.  The important thing is letting your special someone know you care