Retailers prepare for cupid

Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday is expected to lead to extra business for area restaurants and local candy makers.

Dining establishments are expected to take in $10.4 billion in sales for Valentine’s Day, a 4.1 percent increase over last year, according to Los Angeles-based IBISWorld, an industry research firm.

The weekend will be busy for both Finelli’s Italian Villa and the Allegro Restaurant, Altoona.

“This weekend will be extremely busy. This Thursday, Friday and Saturday we will be sold out. Valentine’s Day is a big restaurant night; all should do well that night. I have some big parties booked for Thursday, Friday and Saturday night,” said Frank Finelli, Finelli’s owner. “We need to have our sneakers on, we will be running.”

“We will be packed Friday and Saturday and probably Thursday, too. We always get packed the weekend closest to Valentine’s Day. Friday and Saturday will be two great nights. Most of the younger people who are engaged or are dating go out Valentine’s Day, many of the others prefer to go out Saturday,” said Dan Taddei, Allegro owner.

Valentine’s Day is important for business, Taddei said.

“We have a lull after New Year’s Eve. It is great to have Valentine’s Day after we start to dip. It is like another hump, and February is short and then we are into March,” Taddei said. “It is huge financially, it helps us get through the winter, especially with a winter like we are having. It is huge for us.”

Valentine’s Day candy sales are expected to reach $2.96 billion this year, an increase of 2.5 percent over last year, according to IBISWorld.

“When it is on Friday or Saturday, it seems people celebrate more. That has been proven,” said Jerry Moore, owner of Dutch Hill Chocolates, Altoona. “The day itself is very big. We work around the clock on the 13th and 14th and with the 15th being on a Saturday, it could be a good day as well for people who may be celebrating later.”

Sam Phillips, president of Gardner’s Candies, Tyrone, said Friday should be a good day – when Valentine’s Day is on a Monday or Tuesday, it is almost an afterthought.

“It is a business day, and the men can pick up their chocolates on the way home and also have all weekend to enjoy it. When it falls on a weekend, they tend to take it more seriously,” Phillips said.

The biggest concern is the weather.

“If we get a foot of snow on Valentine’s Day it is terrible; it is tough to recover. About 90 percent of what we sell is done in one day. It is a last-minute thing,” Phillips said.

Valentine’s Day is also very important to area florists.

“On Friday we will do a lot of office deliveries,” said Gary Warner, owner of Warner’s Florist Gifts Greenhouses in Hollidaysburg. “Friday is a good day for Valentine’s Day. It is one of our two busiest days of the year. Mother’s Day Saturday and Valentine’s Day are our two busiest days of the year; it brings in revenue for us.”

Lois Pulcinello, owner of Myers Bros. Florist, Altoona, is expecting a busy Friday.

“It should be very good. Most people like to receive their roses or flowers at work,” Pulcinello said. “Valentine’s Day is crazy; it is usually from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Everybody wants to receive their flowers that day, but we have some customers who are understanding and will have theirs delivered on Thursday.”

Andrea Hammel, owner of Peterman’s Flower Shop, Juniata, also expects to be busy.

“Friday can be good. Most guys love to send flowers to their better half at work. My drivers say when they walk in the office, all of the females look up to see who is getting the flowers,” Hammel said.

“It is a nice thoughtful gesture and makes the girls jealous,” Hammel said. “Thursday, Friday and Saturday are going to be fairly good for us.”

Red roses are still the most popular flower for Valentine’s Day.

“We do a lot of colored roses, but red is the predominant color. It is always roses. Today they prefer arranged roses. Years go it used to be boxed roses, but now they like them already arranged for them,” Warner said.

Valentine’s Day is also important to local jewelry stores.

“I see a trend of a stronger Valentine’s Day in terms of sales when it falls on a weekend. It is a strong holiday but too close to Christmas to be a high-end holiday,” said owner Mike Dorman of Dorman’s Jewelers, Altoona.

“We do a lot of sales in the $50 to $150 sales range. We have heart pendants, which are always popular, and bracelets as well. Most are under $149 – that is what we shoot for for Valentine’s Day sales. We get a lot of sales in that range but not the high-price tickets.”

Don Beerbower, president of Beerbower Jewelers, Hollidaysburg, said he is not sure whether Valentine’s Day falling on Friday will have much impact on business.

“I just need them to shop and buy something for their valentine,” he said. “I am stocking up on sterling silver and diamond pendants that twinkle. They are popular now. They are in the $149 price range. Valentine’s Day is not a holiday where they spend a ton of money on jewelry. If you can get something under $150, that is not bad for jewelry,” Beerbower said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.