Valentine's Day provides a welcome mid-winter boost for some local shops and for some it's one of the biggest business days of the year.
"For single-day sales Valentine's Day is the biggest for us," said Shane Danford, owner of Putnam Chocolate on Front Street in Marietta.
He said the candy shop probably sells more during Christmas, but that shopping season lasts for a couple of months.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Stephanie Starkey, left, rings up some Valentine’s Day chocolates for customer Mary Schilling of Beverly at Putnam Chocolate on Front Street Wednesday afternoon
"Valentine's Day is always busy and represents a huge part of our annual sales," Danford added. "We do get a lot of orders ahead of time-they started coming in January. And everyone has their personal preference-raspberry truffles, caramels, dark chocolate and others. Many people just like to mix it up."
Just up the street Chris Kiggans, manager of Two Peas In A Pod florist, said Valentine's Day is already shaping up to be a big event.
"It's one of our busiest days, and people are ordering a lot earlier this year to get the best choice of florals," she said. "We always hire extra help as the deliveries begin before Valentine's Day. And we're usually still delivering after dark on Valentine's Day."
Some Valentine's Day statistics
Valentine's Day cards are the second-most popular seasonal cards (after Christmas), with 145 million units sold, not including classroom Valentines, according to www.greetingcard.org.
Americans consumed an estimated 24.7 pounds of candy each in 2010, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau statistics.
A survey by OpenTable.com revealed 51 percent of respondents plan to dine out on Feb. 14, and 36 percent plan to celebrate Valentine's Day on Friday, Feb. 15 or Saturday, Feb. 16.
Card shops also mean big business on Valentine's Day.
"After Christmas, Valentine's Day is a pretty big day for us," said Tammy Sole, manager at Philips Hallmark in the Lafayette Center on Pike Street in Marietta.
"Women are shopping for their cards now but we'll start seeing a lot of men next week," she said. "They're buying cards, but also candy and gifts. We're expecting some good business from now through Valentine's Day."
On Ohio 60, about halfway between Marietta and Devola, the House of Wines will be hosting its first Valentine's Day celebration since the restaurant came under new ownership last June.
"We're offering a pre-fixe menu. It's a big thing in the Boston area where we recently visited," said restaurant owner-operator Sally Oliver.
Pre-fixe is a European term that simply means the menu meals have a fixed price.
Oliver said the price of $125 per couple covers a four-course meal with unique dishes not normally found in the local area like baked oysters or steak tartar, prepared by House of Wines chef Matt Lancaster.
"Our first Valentine's Day here will be a big affair," she said. "We've started taking reservations already, and it's filling up, but there is still plenty of room."
Aletha's Florist on south Second Street in Marietta is also gearing up for Valentine's Day.
"The 13th and 14th of February are both like Black Friday for our business," said owner Aletha Shirley. "The work is continuous. January is pretty slow for us, so it's pretty nice to have this two-day boost in February."
She said the shop will have special Valentine's arrangements available this year, and a lot of people are already putting in orders for delivery.
"But we always have a huge amount of walk-ins on Valentine's Day, too," Shirley said. "It would be nice to have that kind of business for more than two days."
Back on Front Street, Goldline Jewelers manager Tanessa Pugh said Valentine's Day means some business there, too.
"Usually we see an increase beginning the week before and through Valentine's Day," she said. "Typically people are looking for some kind of heart jewelry. But Valentine's is probably second or third to our Christmas season sales."
Jewelry By Design owner Tony Baldwin said he doesn't see a lot of additional business for his custom-made jewelry this time of year.
"But we do have some artistic pendants and other small jewelry pieces in the front of the store that are very affordable for Valentine's Day," he said.
The Levee House on Ohio Street will have some specials available for Valentine's Day diners.
"Our business usually depends on what day of the week Valentine's Day falls," said restaurant owner David Hearing.
Still, he expects to be busy when the day rolls around next week.
"Traditionally we offer something special-seafood, pasta, or some other dish," he said. "After all, it is Valentine's Day, and love still prevails. And the business helps us through February, which can seem like a very long month."
Audrey Moodie, manager at The Galley restaurant on Second Street, is expecting a large crowd on Valentine's Day.
"It's one of our busiest days, along with Mother's Day and the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival," she said. "We'll have Valentine's specials in addition to our regular menu that day, and we're also working on some possible entertainment in the Adelphia Music Hall."