Florists from Portland to Waterville are dealing with blizzard conditions Monday while preparing for one of their busiest days of the year.

With much of the state getting blanketed by snow from midday Sunday into Monday afternoon, florists getting ready for Valentine’s Day faced a battle with the elements they hoped wouldn’t cause too much of a delivery delay.

“The roads down here are groomed quite well, so we have our drivers out delivering,” said Karin Allen, controller for Harmon’s & Barton’s in Westbrook. “A lot of businesses are closed today, though, so we’re going to have to get a lot of deliveries out tomorrow.”

Allen said it was quiet in the store Monday though the snow had started to taper off by the early afternoon. She said she expected the store to get “bombed” with phone calls and walk-in traffic Tuesday once people finish shoveling and anticipated close to 1,000 deliveries on Valentine’s Day.

“Mother Nature doesn’t know that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, so it’s going to be pretty crazy tomorrow,” she said. Allen estimated about 90 percent of their orders either on the phone or online are made Feb. 13 and Feb. 14. “Everybody calls at the last minute.”

Scott O’Brien, owner of Augusta Florists, said he stayed at a hotel in the capital city Sunday rather than be forced to drive from his home in Waterville to his shop on Mount Vernon Avenue in a blizzard Monday morning. He picked up a few of his designers on his way to the store from the hotel and has been busy filling orders since early Monday morning.

He said they aren’t doing any deliveries Monday because of the storm but will have extra drivers contracted to help make all the deliveries by the end of the day Tuesday.

“Today is normally a big delivery day, and the phones are starting to ring here now,” O’Brien said. “I’m sure it’ll be a madhouse here tomorrow with people parked all along the avenue.”

O’Brien said he expects to lose thousands of dollars in business because of the storm, and he said he much prefers Mother’s Day.

“It’s on a Sunday in May, so you have a few days before to make sure it gets to mom by then,” O’Brien said. “If you’re a florist in Miami, you’re not as stressed today.”

He said for his business, he prefers when Valentine’s Day falls on a day during the week because it means the Legislature is usually in session and staffers fill the state office buildings.

“Once the state offices close, we’re in trouble because so many of our deliveries go to the state,” O’Brien said.

In Waterville, Dave Lagrange said despite heavy snowfall Monday morning, he had a customer come into KMD Florist & Gift House looking for a special Valentine’s Day order. He was planning on having about 10 deliveries Monday with the remaining orders set for Tuesday.

“We’d normally have triple our regular crew (for Valentine’s Day), but most of them can’t get in today,” Lagrange said. “We’re going to see how much we can pack into one day that is usually spread over two days.”

Minott’s in Portland had employees working in shifts Monday, and store manager Ashley Dyer said the phones have been busier than they had been all week. She said she thinks once the storm is finished, people will have their minds back on the Valentine’s Day holiday.

“We’re usually pretty organized, but we’re going to be hustling,” Dyer said.

So many of the shop’s orders go to businesses or offices that were closed Monday, so drivers are going to be doing a lot of backtracking Tuesday to get everything delivered, she said.

“We gave a courtesy call to all our customers who were scheduled for Monday delivery telling them we would try,” Dyer said. “We’ve been able to get a lot of runs done, but since none of the businesses are open, a lot of them are being held until tomorrow.”

All the florists admitted that if not for it being the day before Valentine’s Day, they probably wouldn’t have opened their shops Monday. They’ve all said despite the bad weather of the past week that culminated with the 18- to 24-inches of snow dropped on the majority of southern and central Maine Monday, the products are in good shape.

Dyer said all their flowers from their wholesaler in Rhode Island were delivered by Sunday and are “fresh and nice.” Lagrange said his orders are “looking great and are as fresh as they can get.” O’Brien said he might have a challenge making some rural deliveries in central Maine Tuesday because of snowy or icy driveways, but his product looks great.

Despite the challenges the storm has thrown at florists around Maine, there is optimism that most of the orders will be fulfilled and delivered in time for people to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their loved ones.

“We’re sitting on about $40,000 worth of fresh flowers that we’ve already purchased, and normally they’d be all gone already,” Allen said. “Flower shops have a low profit margin to begin with, but we’re hoping for the best.”

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

 

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