Everything’s coming up roses, but supplies in peril for Valentine’s Day

But supplies are in peril for Valentine’s Day

Edward’s Flowers floral designer Angelina Fusco of Austintown designs an arrangement of roses for Valentine’s Day, which is Monday. The floral shop on Elm Street in Youngstown may put out as many as 300 pieces for the holiday. Staff photo / R. Michael Semple

Local florists agreed: Men, who are the main buyers of flowers for Valentine’s Day, typically don’t order flowers ahead of time.

“Men mostly are last-minute takers,” George Williams, owner of Goldie’s Flower Shop on Belmont Avenue in Youngstown, said.

Williams said he is getting more orders each day as it gets closer to Valentine’s Day. The total number of bouquets the shop will put out for the holiday will remain up in the air until Saturday, he said.

Orders for Valentine’s Day flowers have been coming in earlier than usual, likely because customers have heard talk of flower and glass shortages, Rebecca Kresen, owner of Jensen’s Flowers & Gifts on Parkman Road in Warren, said.

Kresen said when Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday, like this year, flower sales typically are lower — she doesn’t know exactly why, but guessed it may be because couples take weekend trips to celebrate instead of getting flowers.

Usually, Kresen said she would order less stock to accommodate the expected lower demand, but she’s treating this year like Valentine’s Day is falling in the middle of the week.

She said anyone who still wants flowers should order soon — there is some truth to the rumors about shortages. For example, she usually does most of her Valentine’s specials in red vases, but this year, glass is harder to get, so about one-third are in red. And that’s not all — flowers are hit and miss, too.

“We never fully recovered from the COVID shutdown,” Kresen said, adding that some small-flower farms didn’t survive the long closures, making it harder for distributors, and then retailers, to get products.

The types of flowers that are available varies from week to week, and Kresen has had to make substitutions in her normal arrangements, she said.

“With weddings, we tell brides they can’t have their heart set on a certain flower,” Kresen said.

A shortage of white flowers this past summer occurred because of the weddings rescheduled from 2020, she said.

Goldie’s used to get its flowers from a local supplier in downtown Youngstown that went out of business in December. The store now sources flowers from Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Akron, Williams said.

At the same time, larger pandemic-related shortages and trucking problems have driven up shipping costs for wholesalers.

“So they pass it on to us which in return, since we are the retailer, then we have to pass them on the end result, to our customers,” Williams said.

Still, higher prices haven’t stopped people from buying flowers.

Edward’s Flowers on Elm Street in Youngstown may put out as many as 300 pieces on Valentine’s Day, secretary Brandi Lance said.

Like Goldie’s, the store has recently had to find new wholesalers and has felt the ripple effects of the pandemic, not only on supply, but on demand as well.

“There’s a lot more funerals that have been happening,” Lance said. “A lot more sickness, so a lot more flowers get sent to hospitals.”

Williams said while the number of funerals in any given month fluctuates — “I don’t know how you predict sympathy,” he said — there have been many “COVID families” coming into the shop to purchase flowers for loved ones.


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