By Kevin Wilson
Shane Caraway of Portales walked into Hestand Floral just a little after 1 p.m. Monday, and was quick to admit his fatal flaw.
“I’m one of those late shoppers,” Caraway said to the employee, Bernice Weems.
“I could kick you,” Weems responded with a laugh.
Caraway, a dryer operator for DairiConcepts, selected a flower arrangement, but would have to wait until about 5 p.m. to pick it up. His order was one of 200-300 taken, early or late, up to that point on Valentine’s Day, one of the biggest business days for a floral shop.
Trish Lovelorn, co-owner of Hestand Floral, said that business fluctuates for a flower shop (funerals, anniversaries, etc.), but Valentine’s Day means business increases to 20 or 30 times that of a normal day.
“There are holidays where you’d rather shut the doors,” Lovelorn said, “then there are those when you’re like, ‘Thank you, Lord.’”
The shop is one of four listed floral shops in Portales, though some other businesses deliver other types of gifts for the holiday.
Lovelorn said a staff of two to three people can usually handle an average day of business. For the bigger holidays (Valentine’s, Christmas and Mother’s Day), she estimates that she’d like to have 15-20 people available.
For this holiday, Lovelorn said she had about a dozen. One of those was Kirby Rowan, who has been a delivery person for about three years.
Rowan estimated that he normally makes about 10-12 deliveries on average days. On Monday, he loaded up his vehicle with seven bouquets of flowers or balloons. He’d already delivered more than 30 orders by 1:30 p.m., and he estimated that he could be working as late as 9:30 p.m. if he had some late deliveries to Clovis.
“We know it’s extremely hectic and it’s really important to know the geography of the town,” Rowan said during one of his drives. “I feel sorry for those Pizza Hut and Domino’s drivers.”
Then again, pizza delivery drivers usually receive some sort of gratuity. On a run from 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., Rowan received a tip from a man who had roses delivered to his home. Rowan said it was the fourth tip he’d ever received.
By the time the day was done, Rowan figured he’d have driven in a range of 60 to 100 miles — and gas mileage isn’t very good because he would leave the car running while he entered each stop with flowers and a delivery slip for recipients to sign.
Employees at Hestand said that a sign outside has advertised Valentine’s Day for two months, and they’ve given discounts to people who shop early.
Still, there will always be a late shopper like Caraway, who took about 10 minutes with Weems identifying each flower that would go into the bouquet for his wife, Amanda.
“I can’t pick them out on the stem,” Caraway said. “I know what they are when I grow them but I can’t pick them out on the stem.”