Memphis businesses prepare to perfect Valentine’s Day

Array of valentines type gifts, including sweets, lollypop, wine and flowers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As Americans prepare to spend time with their loved ones on Valentine’s Day, businesses are preparing for those lovers to spend money. Long-running businesses in the Memphis area are no different.

For Valentine’s Day 2019, Americans are expected to spend a total of $3.9 billion on jewelry, $3.5 billion on an evening out, $2.1 billion on clothing, $1.9 billion on flowers and $1.8 billion on candy, according to the National Retail Federation.

For Mark Long, who owns Holliday Flowers and Events in Memphis with his wife, said Valentine’s Day is his business’s busiest single day of the year.

“Every year, we dread it,” Long said. “Every year, we get through it and then celebrate on the other end.”

Long said the 42-year-old business brings in all of their roughly 70 employees and adds about 10 more seasonal employees to prepare for the big day. He said they do two weeks’ worth of business just on Feb. 14 and have to order extra flowers to prepare.

“After 42 years and some records, we’ve got a good feel of what’s going to happen,” Long said.

Because Long’s busiest day is on Valentine’s Day, he said he sees many people trying to get last-minute gifts, but he sees no problem with that.

“We don’t care if you come in at the last minute, just come on and get flowers,” he said.

Not all businesses have their busiest February day on the 14th. Rebecca Dinstuhl, president of Dinstuhl’s Fine Candies, which has been in Memphis since 1902, said their busiest day is the day before Valentine’s Day — Feb. 13, and the week of Valentine’s Day is always the busiest week of the year.

She said it takes lots of preparation to get ready for the Valentine’s rush.

“Preparing for our chocolate-covered strawberries is about a four-day prep,” Dinstuhl said. “There’s quite a bit of preparation that goes into getting everything ready to meet all the needs to Valentine’s.”

Like Holliday Flowers, she said Dinstuhl’s brings their entire staff to work Valentine’s Day and accommodate all the special requests they get.

“With the chocolate-covered strawberries, we will sell about 7,200 pounds,” Dinstuhl said. “Which is about 58,000 strawberries.”

Restaurants also prepare for a rush of lovers on Valentine’s Day. Stephen Coletta, a partner owner of Coletta’s Italian Restaurant, which started in Memphis in 1923, said Valentine’s Day is his restaurant’s second busiest day of the year.

“Pretty much everybody works on Valentine’s Day,” Coletta said. “It’s hard to get off on Valentine’s Day.”

Coletta’s Restaurant makes heart-shaped pizzas for Valentine’s Day, and he said they plan to see 300-400 of those pizzas all day.

“It takes a bit longer to cut out a heart-shaped pizza crust, so it’s a lot of prep doing that all day,” Coletta said.

No matter the time it takes to prepare for a busy day like this, Coletta said it is worth it to make “between double and triple” what the restaurant would make on a normal day.

Being in the family business since 1923, Coletta said he knows stress is coming on a Valentine’s Day shift, but he enjoys every bit of it.

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