With Valentine’s Day approaching, shops across Somerset County are preparing themselves for what is sure to be a busy week leading up to the big day.
Want a kiss from your Valentine? Or is a chocolate kiss — perhaps a giant one — really what you had in mind to make your day sweet?
Sweet!, is an independently-owned candy shop located in the heart of Basking Ridge.
Although Sweet! offers its “Sweet of the Week” promotion year-round, the deal’s focus is usually not on Valentine’s candy, even as the holiday approaches. Generally, people will buy Valentine’s candy regardless of whether or not there is a special deal.
“We really move a lot of the Valentine’s stuff on its own,” said Sweet! co-owner Jennifer Aaron. “It’s been shocking to learn through all the holidays that people are very last-minute. We get a big bump the week before and the day before, even that day.”
Sweet! has plenty of other candy for those just looking to give into their sweet tooth. It even serves as an after-school hangout for local kids and teens.
“We definitely have a split between customers who buy our Valentine’s-specific themed gifts and people who buy the general candy for the holidays,” Aaron said.
Your love is like a red, red rose
Flowers on the Ridge, on Lewis Street in downtown Basking Ridge, has candy, plush animals and balloons for Valentine's Day, as well as flowers, said shop owner Richard Blauvelt.
But flowers are always the top seller for Valentine's Day and of those, roses are the first choice, Blauvelt said.
"Roses are always number one for Valentine's Day...and 80 percent are red," Blauvelt said.
Flowers on the Ridge will be open the Sunday before Valentine's Day, which this year falls on a Tuesday, with the intent that Valentines will place orders a few days earlier to guarantee they have their first-choice selection, he said. "It's a man's holiday, and they remember at the last minute," Blauvelt noted.
Things are always busy this time of year in the floral industry, and B & C Hillsborough Florists, located at 601 Route 206 in Hillsborough, is ready to take on the demand.
“Valentine’s Day is one of our busiest holidays. This year, now that it’s going to fall on a Tuesday, it will be a busier Valentine’s Day than if it falls on a weekend,” said Carley Yurasek of B & C Hillsborough Florists. “The best course of action is just to be prepared for the holiday because of the increase in business. We start three months beforehand researching best quality roses from best growers in the area. They’ll pay a little more for it, but customers come back and say they last very long.”
The shop’s “Enduring Passion” bouquet of twelve red roses has a name that reflects the longevity of the roses and, according to the company’s website, is moderately priced. This bouquet of roses costs just $44.95 and is one of many special bouquets offered this time of year. B & C also offers varieties of mixed bouquets for those who want to celebrate Valentine’s Day with something a bit different.
All seems to be going according to plan for the florists, although there is one unpredictable factor that tends to rear its head this time of year: the weather.
“Hopefully the weather will hold out,” Yurasek said. “Last year we had good weather, too, and that really helps. If it snows, people can’t get out of the house to buy our flowers.”
Likewise, another business that benefits from the pleasant weather is Sweet!
“We’re very weather-dependent and dependent on foot traffic. If it’s nice out, the kids are out,” said Sweet!'s Aaron. “Business has been good because the weather’s been good this winter.”
While not a typical destination for Valentine’s shoppers, 16 Handles may be a good stop for those looking for a fun Valentine’s date idea. The shop’s flavor of the month, “Chocolate Love Affair”, is even Valentine’s-themed.
“If you love chocolate and consider yourself a true romantic, you have to bring your special someone to 16 Handles in Warren for the flavor of the month,” Lisa Domenick said of her shop.
Linda Sadlouskos contributed to this story.