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Valentine's Sweet Flower Frenzy

MARION, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -  Its crazy in a sweet way, Gae Sharp-Richardson tells a visitor and she should know.  Its the 24-hour frenzy before Valentines Day and she and her staff at The Chocolate Shop in Marion are moving faster than barefoot kids on a hot sidewalk.  Some are waiting on a steady stream of customers coming through the front door and others are packing red candy boxes full of some of the most amazing handmade treats on earth.  Gae carefully fills ten more boxes with a mix of creams, caramels, chocolates and truffles, some with bright green drizzle on top, others adorned with a whole almond.  The box tops are red as well with a large heart shaped window and Gae proudly holds one up for all to see, Anything good you can think about chocolate is in this box,  she says.

The Chocolate Shop is in its third location in ten years, but its clear the fans of the amazing confections will follow wherever the business goes.  Gae says this is traditionally Mens Day, when husbands and boyfriends recall they are running out of time and need to stop in before the shelves are bare. One remarks that he is a regular every Valentines Day and that the women in his life say its the best chocolate around.  One father has brought his daughter to pick up a selection of truffles for Mom.  The clerk behind the counter patiently waits as the little girl carefully picks out just the right mix.  The excitement on her face making it clear to everyone how the expression Like a kid in a candy store, first originated. 

As Gae wraps bright red ribbon around another box and finishes it off with a Sweet sticker, she says there are two things she loves about this time of year,   Just the way the chocolates look when theyre ready is special and probably my favorite part is when the customer walks out the door with a pretty box of chocolates .. thats wonderful.

A few miles away theres a different kind of Valentine assembly line, but no less hectic.  When they say organized chaos .. thats kind of what it is, says Pecks Flower and Garden Co-owner Pat Hines. The long-time shop at Blairsferry and Edgewood puts all hands on deck for a three day flower frenzy. Valentines Veterans from as far away as Missouri come back to be surrounded by beautiful blooms as they work their magic for sweethearts. The back rooms and coolers are filled with classic red roses, but also giant, colorful lilies and anything else you can imagine for flowers. 

Pat says the planning started just after Christmas and it takes time to coordinate and get all the pieces in place.  On Valentines Day Pecks will have 15 delivery vehicles on the streets from dawn until the last bouquet is delivered to its intended smiling sweetheart.

Pat says men probably dont deserve the bad rap they sometimes get for being procrastinators, because she insists, many do call way ahead.  But she admits with a smile, there will be that guy who shows up almost every year, ten minutes after they close and hell pound on the door and beg for mercy, Well .. when that happens well find them a Valentine to take home ..but,  yea ..  it does happen.

The latest numbers from the National Retail Federation show  about 40% of lovers will send flowers for Valentines Day while about 50% will pick up candy for their significant others.  That same survey shows that dating or engaged couples will spend about $30 more than married couples and that Men will spend twice as much for the day as women.




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