Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Behind the scenes at a Minnesota floral shop before Valentine’s Day February 13, 2012

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Waseca Floral designers Tara, left, Carol and Lanae work in the shop Sunday morning.

THE SUNDAY MORNING before Valentine’s Day, and the designers at Waseca Floral work at a quick pace, pulling flowers from buckets, snipping stems, sticking greens into vases, tying ribbons and more in a swirl of creativity.

Spools of ribbon line shelves.

They’ve been at it all weekend and, with two days to go, they have yet to face their busiest day, February 14. Most purchases are last-minute, made on Valentine’s Day, says long-time head floral designer Lanae Feser.

And the most popular flower, as one would expect, are red roses, followed by mixed arrangements of red, pink and white flowers.

Roses pack coolers for Valentine's Day.

Lanae isn’t divulging any numbers in either flower quantities or sales, except to estimate that Valentine’s Day related sales this year will be up 15 percent. Customers are reaching deeper into their wallets and adding on the little extras—like a $5 balloon or a box of candy or a stuffed animal—to their floral purchases.

Extras, like balloons, are more popular this year.

And who spends the most money?

“The younger they are, the more they spend,” Lanae says, speculating along with another designer that younger guys are often trying to impress a girl.

Bright blooms fill coolers.

But peer pressure, or perhaps office pressure, also plays a role in some sales. After deliveries to major businesses in town, the floral shop typically experiences a spike in orders.

“There’s nothing worse than everyone in the office getting flowers and your wife doesn’t,” Lanae laughs.

Customers, before writing a message, sometimes ask: "Nobody else is going to see this, right?"

And the men who order flowers don’t just buy for their sweethearts. They also buy for their mothers and, if they have children, for their kids, too, Lanae says.

Over the years, the shop has had a few unusual requests such as a single rose delivered every hour on Valentine’s Day or a rose a day delivered for the seven days prior and then a dozen roses sent on February 14.

For the most part, though, the prevailing attitude among male customers, according to Lanae, seems to be this: “As long as I get her something, I’m OK.”

Some of the floral options designers created in reusable mugs.

Another option...

The single bust for floral shops, the designers and Waseca Floral owner Rick Morris agree, is a Valentine’s Day that falls on a Sunday. Then guys tend to take their sweethearts out to eat rather than give flowers.

Rick Morris, owner of Waseca Floral for 40 years.

Each year Rick reminds his customers of the day on which Valentine’s Day falls via a rhyming poem that airs on area radio station KRUE 92. That 15 to 20-year tradition (Rick can’t recall precisely how long he’s been penning and reading poems for radio spots) started with these two questions:

Where in tarnation can you buy a carnation?

Would it be crazy to buy a daisy?

You can buy carnations and daisies at Waseca Floral.

His current poem begins with these lines:

Valentine’s Day is Tuesday this year

When you will want to bring her cheer

The poem continues for five more verses.

The message is simple, Rick says. “Buy flowers.”

Coolers filled with flowers await customers.

Waseca Floral is ready to deliver flowers on Valentine's Day.

TO READ ABOUT another Waseca Floral advertising tradition, click here.

DISCLAIMER: Waseca Floral Designer Lanae Feser is my sister. I was not paid to, or asked to, write this post, nor did I receive flowers in exchange for this story. My husband, however, unbeknown to me, purchased flowers for me from Waseca Floral.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling