Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A vacuum cleaner or roses? February 12, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:30 PM
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AS RICK MORRIS TELLS the story, he and his friend Charlie Mathern were having breakfast together some 20 years ago shortly before Valentine’s Day when they got the idea.

The two discussed partnering in print advertising. It seemed an unlikely match—Rick being in the floral business and Charlie in the hardware store business, both in Waseca.

But they hatched a plan to pit vacuum cleaners against flowers in a Valentine’s Day promotion. Charlie said he’d put his Hoovers on sale. Rick would advertise his flowers.

Twenty years later, they’re still at it, publishing a joint half-page ad in a recent issue of the Waseca Area Shopper that promises the perfect Valentine’s Day gift:

On Valentine’s Day, Charlie & Rick say—Sweep her off her feet! Vacuum Cleaner?…or Roses?

And then, in heart-shaped speech bubbles of poetic rhyme, Rick of Waseca Floral and Charlie of Charlie’s Hardware, push their product.


As you well know

violets are purple

and roses have thorns.

If she doesn’t get a Hoover

she’ll be truly forlorn!


The Valentine gift of a vacuum is awful.

A beautiful bouquet of flowers is thoughtful!


Flowers demand your time and care.

So give her a Hoover to see love in the air!


Giving a vacuum is utterly stupid.

Your sweetheart should get flowers from Cupid.

The back-and-forth bantering continues amid photos of vacuums intermixed with red hearts on the left side of the ad and images of floral arrangements interspersed with hearts on the right.

Says poet/businessman Rick of his and Charlie’s Valentine’s Day ad partnership: “It’s always been about vacuum cleaners and flowers.”

Nearly the entire half-page Valentine's Day print ad Rick and Charlie ran this year.

DISCLOSURE: My sister, Lanae, is employed by Waseca Floral. But that in no way influenced my decision to write this post. I learned about this 20-year ad partnership while photographing Valentine’s Day preparations at Waseca Floral. I know a great story when I hear one.  And, in my opinion, this rates as one of those interesting and humorous small-town stories that needs to be shared.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling