Valentine’s Day is almost upon us and people all across the country are brainstorming ideas for how to
make this year’s holiday extra special for their beloved spouse, partner or sweetheart.
The romantic holiday can be as simple as you make it or you can go all out with a wide variety of gifts
and activities. One thing is for certain though, the holiday does generate some impressive numbers.
Hallmark – the well-known greeting card company, estimates the number of Valentine’s Day cards
exchanged every February 14 tops more than 145 million. The U.S. National Retail Foundation reports
$21.8 billion was spent last year on Valentine’s Day gifts and is estimating that figure will rise to $23.9
billion this year.
That’s a lot of flowers and candy.
And speaking of flowers and candy (and jewelry too), a few local business owners recently weighed in
with their opinions on Valentine’s Day and how the annual holiday affects their work schedule. Here’s a
hint – the day is rather busy.
For more than 12 years, Bellafina Chocolates has specialized in the finest of truffles, from Midnight Mint
to Dark Chocolate Cherry to Red Hot Cinnamon. The non-profit chocolatier is dedicated to helping
threatened women and children and does so by donating 100 percent of its profits to children’s
charities, while being staffed almost entirely by volunteers.
Owner Brenda Barnicki said Valentine’s Day is easily the biggest holiday for Bellafina, after Christmas of
“On Valentine’s Day, it’s a lot of walk-in business depending on what day (the holiday) falls,” Barnicki
said. “Literally the day before or the day of there’s plenty of last minute purchases.”
Throughout the year, the truffle boxes at Bellafina are adorned with special artwork provided by the
children in the charities the organization supports. This year, one drawing comes from children in
Zimbabwe, while another from the Wears Valley Ranch (a children’s home and school in Sevierville).
In addition to the truffles, Bellafina also sells a variety of artwork, jewelry, candleholders, scarves and
blankets – all made by the people helped by the charities. So, you have more than just chocolate to
choose from this Valentine’s Day.
Still, don’t forget the candy even if it’s an assorted gift box of truffles, one of the best sellers at Bellafina.
“You can’t go wrong with chocolate,” Barnicki said.
When it comes to Valentine’s Day, Amy Roberts, owner of Downtown Flowers & Gift Shop in downtown
Kingsport, shares a similar story to Barnicki’s. Other than Mother’s Day…February 14 th is one of the
busiest holidays of the year for her business.
Downtown Flowers and Gift Shop has been serving the Model City since 1940 and is the oldest florist in
Kingsport. All bouquets are designed and arranged by hand and Roberts chooses only the farms that live
up to the company’s high ethical standards.
To be prepared for the expected Valentine’s Day rush, Roberts said she and her staff begin planning and
prepping as early as November – stocking up on vases, ordering flowers and lining up extra drivers and
designers to help.
“Three months of planning and ordering and less than a week of chaos. That is it exactly,” Roberts said.
“It’s like planning a huge party and even when you get the flowers done, getting them out to the specific
places takes planning. There’s just a lot of planning that goes into it.”
When it comes to money spent on fresh flowers and plants, Valentine’s Day ranks #1 among all holidays,
according to the Society of American Florists. Thousands of roses will go out the door at the Downtown
Flowers & Gift Shop around the Valentine’s Day holiday, but not just the traditional dozen.
Some will have different greenery and fillers, others with candy, teddy bears, balloons or maybe even
jewelry. Mixing it up is a good way to go for that special someone.
“My advice is to pick a local florist,” Roberts said. “There’s lots of order gatherers that show up when
you (search) for flowers and they may charge you $100 and send it out to a local florist and do an order
“When you go local and talk to your florist, they can tell you what’s available and what looks good and
offer some different things that work within your budget.”
For those of you who want to step it up this Valentine’s Day and do something extra special, then
jewelry could be your best bet.
“With jewelry, there’s always something new,” said Patti Baker, owner of Baker’s Jewelry. “We always
try and keep up with the trends.”
It’s something the business has strived to do for the past 32 years.
As with flowers and candy, jewelry is always a popular gift for Valentine’s Day, Baker said. Gift buying
typically starts about a week before the holiday and continues until the very last minute. It’s usually the
men who take it down to the wire, so starting early is always helpful.
“If you have something special in mind it’s good to come on in and let’s talk about it, and see if we need
to make something. The more time we have the more we’re available to get what you want,” Baker said.
“The store is definitely, fully stocked the week before Valentine’s Day…just if you have something
special in mind it’s good to come on in early.”