Photo by Pete DeMola
Tracy Sayre ordered 900 roses for Valentine’s Day. It’s among the busiest times of year, said the Elizabethtown-based florist.
ELIZABETHTOWN — While Cupid’s arrow is said to fill targets with uncontrollable desire, for local businesses, his quiver is also packed with economic vitality.
LakeShore Candy is hustling to accommodate holiday crowds. The owners of the Plattsburgh confectionery, Bob and Ann Sweeney, anticipate folks will start trickling in toward the end of the week.
On deck are a number of chocolate molds, candies and other items, many of them handmade.
The Sweeneys have been preparing for months for the three-day event.
“We call it relationship maintenance,” Bob Sweeney joked.
In Port Henry, desert designer Laura Baker is bustling to crank out holiday specials, including chocolate-covered strawberries, handpainted sugar cookies, truffles and customized cakes, for local lovebirds.
The Baker-y opened last year right before the holiday. While walk-in traffic was brisk, Christmas and Thanksgiving — pie season — proved to be more stressful, Baker said.
Florists, too, are preparing for an influx.
Elizabethtown-based florist Tracy Sayre has boosted staff. This weekend, she’ll be joined by a pair of clerks, two delivery guys and an extra arranger. A pair of coolers hold 900 roses. Last-minute walk-ins are welcome, Sayre said.
For the florist, the holiday is about hunkering down.
Sayre once drove two hours through a blizzard to make a delivery.
Another time, she worked for 48 hours straight and went to sleep on the floor.
“I got up and worked all over again,” Sayre said.
Boquet Valley Blooms, an Essex-based floral business, is seeing orders pour in this week for their customized bouquets and arrangements.
Sarah White, who started the operation last year, said for florists, the week is the busiest of the year, with a big push beginning on Feb. 12.
The upstart has more than doubled their Christmas order, with more than five times the amount of flowers coming in.
White started ordering roses in December, including lavender variations, which are becoming increasingly trendy.
The holiday has morphed over the years, White said, to more of an all-purpose celebration that people use to show affection for friends and family members, not just their sweethearts.
“It’s something to feel positive about in mid-winter,” White said.
This year, White’s valentine is the Village Meat Market in Willsboro, which has proved to be critical in expanding White’s start-up by offering retail space.
The partnership allows procrastinators to pick up flowers on a day when many other retail outlets are closed (LakeShore Candy, too, will be open: “If you stroll out on Sunday, you better tell her you’re taking the dog for a walk,” Sweeney advised last-minute lotharios).
The holiday is important for rural communities like Essex, said White, a tourist town with few year-round businesses.
“People in this community really want to support local businesses and come together to do something positive in these long winter months,” White said. “It’s a bright spot in a long winter.”
The Essex Inn will host an “understated but elegant” dinner on Saturday and Sunday evening. The fixed-choice menu will feature three offerings; the tables, cross-pollinated with arrangements from Boquet Valley Blooms.
Karen Dalton, the co-owner, said the inn has seen an uptick in guests booking overnight romantic getaways.
The joy can be contagious, said Dalton.
“It’s a nice kind of spark for the business and to get a little activity in town,” Dalton said. “Anytime there’s an opportunity, it’s a nice way for the community to open up and let people know the lights are on and doors are open.”
One group has been exercising their vocal cords since December the gift of song.
Since 1983, the Sweet Adelines have been gracing local doorsteps with singing valentines.
“It’s a good surprise for someone,” said Carole Harsh, a participant. “I’ve seen both tears and people running away.”
Harsh recounted a woman who sobbed with joy the entire length of the choir’s performance. Another young man, a bagger at a local supermarket, ran out into the parking lot and hid until the singers went away.
Most of the time, folks are pleased, said Harsh.
Recipients walk away with a stuffed animal, a digital photograph and candy from LakeShore.
The Plattsburgh-based group’s six-song repertoire includes “Side By Side,” “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” and the Beatles classic “When I’m 64.”
The group will start taking orders on Thursday for locations in the Plattsburgh area. Those in outlying areas can be served with a phone call.
“I have the best fun all year with this group,” Harsh said.
Sweeney, too, says the holiday is a blast — “How can anything not be fun in a candy store?” — but the holiday’s Sunday scheduling, paired with winter vacation in many local school districts, is making things slightly sticky.
Instead of purchasing flowers and chocolate, folks are heading south to fairer climes.
It’s exacerbated by an early Easter, which falls on March 26. Lent, the six-week time period when Catholics give up a guilty pleasure, begins on Wednesday.
Chocolate is often on the hit list, Sweeney said.
“This is a weird year, Sweeney said.
Not for divorce attorneys.
Alexander Shmulsky, a Ticonderoga lawyer, said his office generally sees more divorce and custody petitions being filed around this time each year.
“People like to get a new start at the new year,” Shmulsky said.
Essex County Clerk Joe Provoncha said divorce filings hit their peak around Christmastime.
After the holidays, parties often want to speed up legal proceedings so they don’t have to fake it through a romantic holiday, said Deb Whitson, an Elizabethtown-based attorney.
“People get through the holidays and deal with their unhappy relationship afterwards,” Whitson said, speaking generally without knowledge of any specific case.
That is, except for the woman who specifically asked the firm to serve her cheating husband divorce papers on Valentine’s Day.