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‘I need a dozen roses ... today!’

PRINCETON — Hands down, Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for flower sales and deliveries. It’s the one day in the year when lovebirds flock to florist shops to select that famous bouquet of red roses for their significant other.

At Flowers by Julia in Princeton, the planning for the big day begins as soon as December; it’s time to start some number crunching for those upcoming flower orders.

Owner Julia Cain said the store averages about 270 flower deliveries on Valentine’s Day. That number doesn’t include the walk-in orders.

“It’s the most men you see in one place. It’s amazing ... I wonder where did all these people come from,” she said.

Red roses, of course, are the store’s most popular seller.

“I think it’s what (people) think of first, and it sort of represents Valentine’s Day in a lot of ways,” said Cain.

With the extra orders, comes the extra help. About 10 to 12 extra employees are needed to help deliver the flower arrangements at Flowers by the Julia. Extra vehicles are also rounded-up for the deliveries. Another 10 extra employees are needed to help design and build the flower arrangements, answer phone calls and take walk-in orders. Among the special help is Cain’s parents, Marilyn and Floyd Pinter. They have been helpers since the beginning of her business 35 years ago.

The Pinters are in charge of processing the flowers from each shipment that arrives at the shop. They take the flower, de-thorn the stems, remove the bottom leaves and cut the stem ends before they are placed in a conditioning solution.

“Being together, we get along well with flowers,” said Floyd. “(Marilyn) knows just exactly what I do, and I know what she does, and it works out good as a team.”

Getting to spend the time together preparing for the holiday is what makes it memorable.

“We’re always quite aware when Valentine’s Day is coming,” said Marilyn. “It’s a happy occasion, and (the flowers) are beautiful things.”

The best part for the Pinters ... they can work at their own speed, and no one complains.    

“All these years and we haven’t gotten fired yet,” joked Floyd.

As the flowers are being processed, bouquets are arranged by designers, and once finished, are stored in a cooler at the back of the business where they’re categorized alphabetically by towns.

“Say when you have a Jones in Princeton, you can find it easily and pull it and put it in the delivery vehicle,” said Cain.

At the front counter inside the florist shop, employees are in charge of sorting orders by routes.

“They dispatch them, literally,” Cain said.

There are a number of different routes around the county, such as one person covers Wyanet, Buda and Sheffield and another will go to Ladd, Cherry and Arlington and so on.

“We try not to promise a particular delivery time … We can’t be running back and forth while trying to work efficiently,” she said.

Cain said it’s nothing for her to begin her work day at 6 a.m. as the holiday approaches. More than likely, she can also be seen in the shop working on orders until midnight or 1 a.m. the night before the big day. She said nearly one-third to one-half of the flowers orders aren’t even requested until Feb. 14.

“I’ve come in early (on Valentine’s Day) some days and have seen 10 dozen rose orders before we even opened the store,” she said.

Aside from the long hours and the mad rush of last minute orders, Cain said it’s a still favorite day that holds a special meaning. It marks the day when her and her husband, Princeton Mayor Keith Cain, went on their first date.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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