High Stakes for Snowbound Florists on Valentine's Day

For romance, nothing really disappoints like an overhyped Valentine’s Day—except perhaps a soggy, snowstorm-spoiled Valentine’s Day. Just ask 1-800-Flowers and FTD, each scrambling to deliver roses and other love-inspired arrangements in a foot of snow, with highways that are either a mess or totally closed.

Yanique Woodall, a spokeswoman at 1-800-Flowers, said in an e-mailed statement that the company has been working with its local partners to make sure deliveries are not missed. Some orders were even moved up for early delivery “to make sure we deliver a smile for their Valentine—ahead of any winter storms,” she said. FTD did the same and has stopped taking orders in areas where deliveries may not be possible.

Unfortunately, the early deliveries are upsetting some customers, especially those who paid extra for delivery on the big day.

America’s 15,307 florist shops have three main events in the U.S.—Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Mother’s Day—and they’re trying their best not to lose those sales this week. Getting it right on busy holidays, however, proves a challenge.

Any discussion of these big retailers is not just about the companies. 1-800-Flowers, for instance, owns only one floral retail store in New York and eight in the Midwest; it has 214 franchised stores in the U.S., according to 2013 figures. In many cases, its orders are fulfilled by local independent florists, a majority of which are members of BloomNet, 1-800-Flowers’ network of vendors, to which local florists pay a fee for membership.

“Every indication we have gotten in the last two days has been that florists are open and making deliveries,” said Jennifer Sparks, a spokeswoman for the trade group Society of American Florists in an e-mail. “They are doing everything in their power to take care of their customers’ deliveries—lots of extra delivery drivers and four wheel drive vehicles.”

Because fearful lovers know that on Feb. 14, flowers—or worse, the absence of flowers—end up being about soooooo much more.

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