Petal pushers discuss how they prepare for the busiest time of their year - Valentine's Day

ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Sara Lake of the Bloom Flower Shop shows off a Valentines Day floral arrangement. Lake said the holiday is one of the busiest times of the year at the shop.

Valentine's Day is a chance to cozy up to your sweetheart, but for local florists there's no time for romance — it's all hands on deck for one crazy push through the holiday.

Sara Lake, owner of the Bloom Flower Shop, often works 16-hour days the week leading up to Feb. 14. When she needs to stop by the flower market in Portland, her day often begins as early as 5 a.m.

For florists, the chaos surrounding Valentine's Day involves wholesale flower markets, which often want orders in several months beforehand. Lake usually places her order the day after Christmas.

"You're flying blind. All you have to go on is the previous year's (sales) and hope for better or the same," she said. "You're completely guessing. Some years you're left holding the extras, other years you sell out. It's the unknown."

Anne Peaslee of Anne's Flowers expressed similar thoughts.

"I never know (how Valentine's Day is going to go)," she said. "It's a capricious business. The stock goes up tenfold from usual."

The season is further complicated by the shopping trends of well-intentioned customers who wait until the last minute to pick up flowers.

"The most hairy (of the holidays) is Valentine's Day," Lake said. "Guys will wait until 4 p.m. the day of to say, 'I'm going to get my wife something.' I wish there was a way to broadcast to men, don't wait until the last minute."

"Men don't tend to pre-order," Peaslee added.

In fact, Peaslee noted that typically only half of her Valentine's Day sales are pre-ordered.

"It's about 50 percent pre-ordered and 50 percent the day of," she said. "There are people who walk in at 5 p.m. on Val-entine's Day a little discouraged."

Along with accurately estimating how many flowers will be needed, Peaslee also tries to keep up with the different trends of the industry.

"You order beforehand and go off last year, but each year the trends change. It used to be all about red roses, but now, not as much," said Peaslee, noting that she thinks both lilies and roses will be popular this year.

Lake added that, although it's not ideal to order an excess of flowers, it's important to ensure that the shop doesn't run out of them. In many ways, it's a balancing act.ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Anne Peaslee of Anne's Flowers started her business during the Valentines Day season 16 years ago.

"You don't want to run out of flowers because people won't come back," she said. "I try to make everyone happy and make the impossible orders. I'd hate for someone to walk in and not make them happy."

Usually, Lake continued, Valentine's Day is busier if it falls in the middle of the week instead of the weekend. She's noticed that many customers would rather send flowers to their beloved if they're at work, rather than celebrating together if the occasion falls on a weekend.

"Wednesday is a better day (for it to) fall on because it's the middle of the work week,' she said. "It's almost awkward to push it to one weekend or another."

Both Peaslee and Lake hire additional help the week leading up to Valentine's Day.

"The weeks before, I gather supplies and go to second- hand stores and look for vases," Lake said. "I don't want to make more when they're already floating around. Then washing the vases takes days."

Peaslee started Anne's Flowers during the Valentine's Day season 16 years ago. Though it was a busy time of the year, she considers it a good decision.

"It worked out really nice," she said. "We've developed a really loyal following, and I'm grateful for that."

Lake has ideas for the day after Valentine's Day.

"I've always thought February 15 should be a florist holiday," she said. "We should get manicures and pedicures to get the dirt out of our fingers and have our feet rubbed because we've been standing for so long."

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