Why Local Florists May Be Your Best Bet This Valentine's Day

PHOTO: Nic Faitos, senior partner at Starbright Floral Design in New York City.
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With the heavy snowstorms hitting the Northeast, Nic Faitos, senior partner at Starbright Floral Design, which has been in the business 22 years in New York City, said a lot of the 2,000 deliveries that his florist business will make today and Friday will be conducted by foot and through mass transit.

That includes the subway.

"We have very limited use of vehicles because of the weather. We hired extra people because of that," he said. That is, in addition to his 30 full-time staff members.

Faitos and other small businesses like his are touting the benefits of ordering flowers from your local florist in light of the worst conditions for Valentine's Day flower delivery in recent memory.

With local delivery, Faitos said, as opposed to delivery from some national wire services that send flowers overnight, the distance the flowers travel may be shorter. And there are other benefits, he said.

First, the cut-off time for last-minute orders tends to be much later. As of Thursday afternoon, Faitos said, his company was "nowhere near our cutoff time."

"Usually, we try to accommodate as many people as we possibly can," he said.

Faitos said Valentine's Day is his busiest time of the year.

Last year on Valentine's Day, Faitos' last order was submitted at 9 p.m. for a delivery that was completed at 10:30 p.m. That order was three dozen roses to the high-end restaurant Le Cirque in New York City.

"Somebody forgot it was Valentine's," Faitos said.

Second, Faitos added, local florists may have greater oversight over quality control.

"They're all handled by hands, not boxes," he said of the flowers. "They're not a sack of potatoes. You want them to arrive in as perfect, pristine condition as you possibly can."

Delivery concerns may be particularly acute this week.

This year's apocalyptic Valentine's Day warning signs include winter storms that may lead to possible delivery delays and cold weather causing less-than-desirable conditions for flower growers, said David Dancer, head of marketing at Teleflora.

Florists have also warned customers that Friday deliveries have extra complications when they are sent to business locations, Dancer said. For instance, most Valentine's Day deliveries are sent to offices, but many workers try to leave the office early on Valentine's Day.

If they miss a delivery on Friday, many gift recipients will be out of the office over the weekend, plus Monday for Presidents Day, Dancer added.

With the surge of online ordering for Valentine's Day, customers -- mostly men -- are ordering flowers at the last minute for Valentine's Day. Dancer said 85 percent of all customers buy within the week of Valentine's Day. Of that, 65 percent order two to three days before Feb. 14.

Read More: Western Union Warns: For Pete's Sake, Don't Send Money to Valentines You Haven't Met

While Mother's Day is the busiest holiday of the year for Teleflora, Dancer said customers are pickier for Valentine's Day gifts: They want their floral arrangement to arrive specifically on Feb. 14.

"Mother's Day is a busy time frame, but folks aren't as sensitive of having flowers delivered on Mother's Day," he said. "They want to have their flowers delivered for mom so she can enjoy it for several days."

Teleflora has been in contact with its network of local florists check with their operations, Dancer said. Many florists reported that they closed today, especially in the Washington, D.C., area, but that they would be able to deliver Friday.

"As you can imagine, there is an enormous amount of risk, so it's important to keep lines of communication open to monitor their availability," Dancer said.

Faitos has been a member of Teleflora's clearinghouse of local florists for the last 18 years because, he said, Teleflora's business model is built around supporting local florists instead of bypassing them.

Teleflora gets a small percentage of a flower delivery when ordered through its website. And when Starbright Floral Design helps a customer fulfill an order to their sweetheart in, say, Texas, Faitos gets a small commission, as well.

Florists on Long Island and in New Jersey are preparing four-wheel vehicles for delivery to navigate through the snowy roads, but not Faitos.

"New York City is a little too urban for that. Thank God we don't have to deal with it," he said.

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