Gifts for Valentine’s Day

The average American celebrating Valentine’s Day will spend more than $133 on candy, flowers, and other gifts this year, according to a survey commissioned by the National Retail Federation. There’s a lot to choose from, and some local businesses offer ideas to help make this Valentine’s Day special.

“Some people have no idea what they want for a Valentine’s Day gift when they come in, so we show them a large selection, from candy bouquets and teddy bears to roses and floral arrangements in ‘diamond-encrusted’ vases,” said Pam Aletha Shirley, owner of Aletha’s Florist at the corner of Second and Greene streets in Marietta.

She said the candy bouquets with assorted chocolates or a mix of favorite candy bars are very popular Valentine’s Day gifts, including one special bouquet called “Love and a Kiss,” featuring a nice floral arrangement topped off with a large Hershey’s Kiss.

To meet the demand for gifts and flowers this week, Shirley ordered an extra semi-trailer full of florals and other unique Valentine’s Day products.

“It’s absolutely the busiest time of year for us,” she said. “Our phones will be ringing off the hook.”

This year Aletha’s Florist has its own web site where flowers and other gifts can be ordered online.

“It’s new this year,” she said. “Customers can order directly from our store on the www.alethasflorist.net web site. They’ll see descriptions of all our arrangements that range in price from $19.95 to $250.”

If you’re thinking about a special Valentine’s Day dinner, Austyn’s Restaurant on Front Street has some interesting offers on the Valentine’s menu they’re featuring Friday, including kangaroo and Chilean sea bass.

“We’ll be open all day Friday, but have already received a lot of reservations for Valentine’s Day,” said Austyn’s server Megan Fry. “It’s always exciting to meet all of the couples-some even have flowers delivered ahead of time to be placed on their table before they arrive.”

She noted the Chef’s special for Valentine’s Day is a dinner for two, complete with a bottle of wine.

“And the restaurant takes on a different, more romantic setting at night,” Fry added.

Philips Hallmark in the Lafayette Center on Pike Street also offers a wide variety of Valentine’s Day cards and gifts.

“Most people who come through the front door say ‘I’m just looking for a Valentine’s card,'” said Clacey Walters, sales associate at the Hallmark store.

Although the racks were a sea of red with Valentine cards Sunday, she said there will be a lot of holes in the displays come Valentine’s Day. And the store is stocked with plenty of other Valentine’s Day gifts like scented candles, chocolates, beads and jewelry, and plush animals, including 1-foot-high frogs that dance to a tropical melody.

“We’ll sell out of a lot of items by Valentine’s Day,” Walters said.

Fellow sales associate Nancy Turner said business will be brisk this week.

“It’s one of the biggest times of year for us, after Christmas and Mother’s Day,” she said.