Florists, Retailers Hurt By Pre-Valentine's Snow
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Love is in the air, but snow is on the ground, and it's putting a chill on some Valentine's Day plans across North Carolina.
The last vestiges of a major winter storm were heading north Thursday, but driving conditions remained treacherous in many places. As a result, florists across the state were scrambling to make deliveries, or make alternate plans to get roses and other arrangements to their destinations as soon as possible.
"We're trying to do as much as we can, which doesn't amount to a whole lot," said Frank Campisi, general manager of Fallon's Flowers in Raleigh. Campisi said he's had to move deliveries from Friday to Saturday and, in some cases, to Monday.
"Right now, it's a tremendous mental stress dealing with the changes that need to be made beyond just the normal capacity of handling the normal volume and deliver them in a timely fashion," he said.
Fallon's had just one driver on the road Thursday to make as many deliveries as possible. Every Fallon's customer with an order is getting a phone call to set up alternate arrangements. The store is working with people who were kept from ordering by the storm.
The florist has also had to adjust from making deliveries to businesses to taking flowers to homes because many offices are closed. Campisi said the storm will ultimately affect his bottom line.
"When you look at the holiday overall and the total amount of activity, those numbers will more than likely be significantly down from last year," he said. "However, we are trying to make the best of it and get the word out that we are here."
Starclaire House of Flowers in Charlotte didn't answer its phone Thursday afternoon, choosing instead to leave a recorded message saying that getting flowers to lovers will be tough. Snow fell for much of the morning and early afternoon in the city. It eventually tapered off to reveal the sun, but not in time for the florist to make up the lost time.
The recording said any deliveries scheduled for Thursday hopefully would be made on Friday. If deliveries can't be made on Valentine's Day, the recording said those deliveries would come on Monday, unless callers sent their email address to make a change.
At Liberty Oak restaurant in downtown Greensboro, assistant manager Jessica Estes was concerned that the anticipated crowd might not make it.
"This couldn't have happened at a worse time" Estes said. "We're pretty much completely booked. All of our tables are being set three times, maybe four.
"We're praying it will all be gone," she said.
Van Eure, owner of the Angus Barn near Raleigh-Durham International Airport, said her doors were open through the storm. When people were stranded on U.S. 70 on Wednesday, she said, they found comfort in her place. U.S. 70 runs in front of the restaurant.
"We even were prepared for some to spend the night if they had to. But all of them made it home," Eure said. "I was not going to have someone sleep in their car."
Eure said the restaurant still has a waiting list for Friday night.
"We've had some cancellations, but as soon as someone cancels, someone else will call," she said. "It's not going to seem to affect so many people. Those who aren't coming are moving to another night."
Last-minute Valentine's shoppers may be in a bind, too. Many malls either closed early Thursday, or never opened at all.