- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cupid needed a snow plow this year.

Valentine’s Day wasn’t too sweet for local florists as Tuesday night’s ice storm kept flower recipients away from their offices to accept deliveries and threw a slippery obstacle on delivery drivers’ routes.

“I didn’t sleep really well last night,” said Dale Mangum, owner of Bell Flowers in Silver Spring, who remembered driving Valentines flowers around in snow during a 1983 storm.

Florists typically prefer that Valentine’s Day, one of their busiest days of the year, fall in the middle of the week. Sweethearts can’t spend the whole day together — as they might on a Saturday or Sunday — and some think sending flowers to the office is a mid-day reminder of how they feel, according to the Society of American Florists, an Alexandria trade group.

But just like love, a workday Valentine’s Day can sometimes turn into a case of “be careful what you wish for.”

A mess of snow, ice and slush Tuesday night made yesterday a grown-up snow day for many Washingtonians. Public schools in the area closed, and the federal government opened late and instituted liberal leave. Some private companies let employees work from home or relaxed their start times.

“No one is at work, so when we get there, they’re closed and we can’t deliver,” said Mildred Sanchez, an employee at York Flowers on Wisconsin Avenue Northwest. She said about 60 of the 300 flower deliveries attempted by about 2 p.m. yesterday hadn’t reached their recipients.

“We’re being proactive, calling places first,” she said, adding that many drivers are delivering flowers to homes instead of offices.

Many area flower shops began calling customers this weekend, asking if they could deliver flowers early or to an alternate address, in anticipation of the storm.

“About 80 percent of the people we called agreed to do that,” said Nanci Steveson, manager of Hoover-Fisher Florist, also in Silver Spring. “That was great and the people who did it probably are really glad.”

The florist typically takes last-minute orders on Valentine’s Day — about 58 percent of men planned to buy some type of flowers this year, according to the National Retail Federation, and some of those orders are placed at the last minute. But the store couldn’t accept those this year.

“It’s a tough day,” Ms. Steveson said. “We’re trying really hard to get everything out.”

Still, some Valentines will be arriving late this year.

“Very few people want [flowers delivered] on the 15th. They want it on the 14th,” he said. “On Valentine’s Day, you can always have weather issues.”

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