Friday, February 11, 2011
Diane Branch received 160 pounds of strawberries on Thursday, ready to be dipped. White, dark or milk, the red fruit will be covered with one of the three chocolates for Valentine’s Day.
Branch, owner of Sweet Temptations, makes strawberry dipping into a family affair. Her son, daughter, future daughter-in-law and granddaughter will all help out, but it’s still a big job.
“I’ll probably be here all night,” Branch said.
Valentine’s Day weekend is one of the candy store’s busiest times of year.
“Valentine’s Day starts the year off, and then we have Easter,” Branch said.
Although chocolate-covered strawberries are her biggest seller for the holiday, Branch sells everything from candy baskets and balloons to novelty chocolates and sugar-free sweets. She said Valentine’s is special because it offers a day to “show some love and appreciation for someone who does so much for you.”
Lanette Kielbasa, owner of Cake Creations, is bringing chocolate-covered strawberries in for the first time this holiday. They are coming in from the Candy Factory Fine Chocolates in Columbia.
“I was really enthused about partnering with them,” Kielbasa said.
She said Valentine’s is Cake Creations’ biggest holiday, and she’s been working hard to stay on top of things in preparation for it. The store has candy bouquets, decorated cookies, stuffed animals and other items to celebrate cupid’s big day.
“Every day is a new challenge to come up with ideas with what we think the public might like,” Kielbasa said.
A couple other stores in the area that are also selling gifts for Valentine’s Day include The Gift Shop and Smokingbirds.
Betty Meyer, customer service representative at The Gift Shop, said cards are always a big item for the holiday, and the store also offers things such as jewelry and candles.
“A lot of men buy for their sweethearts or wives,” Meyer said.
Carol David, manager of The Gift Shop, added that any gift purchased at the store is wrapped at no additional charge.
“The people that come in use Valentine’s Day to honor the people they love,” she said.
Virginia McCoskrie, owner of Smokingbirds, said she’s had many people come in looking for Valentine’s presents. The store has a small section of romance gifts and also items such as jewelry and bath and body goods.
Unique Designs ordered more than 150 dozen roses for the big day and Lisa Clarkestrada, owner, said she’s not sure if it will be enough.
“Roses are supposed to be the token of love,” Clarkestrada said, “red roses particularly.”
Customers will send cards with flower orders and Clarkestrada said she remembers seeing one she thought was very sweet: “I love you. You are the best wife and mother a person could ever ask for.”
Bob McIntire, owner of McIntire’s Florists, said Valentine’s Day is the shop’s busiest time. He has to start ordering flowers in January to make sure he has enough and has extra help come in to keep up.
Restaurants around town also get in on the romantic buzz for the holiday. Beks General Manager Tessa Truitt said the restaurant already has 100 people booked for Monday, when Beks is offering a special Valentine’s menu.
The Grille is offering a “dinner for two” menu through the weekend and into the next week.
“It’s a rough economy, so we try to make a fair price so everyone can take out their favorite valentine,” said Steve Moore, general manager at The Grille.
Mike Graham, general manager at Sir Winston’s Restaurant, said the upcoming weekend is traditionally always busy. Sir Winston’s is also providing a special menu to its guests, including chocolate-covered strawberries from Sweet Temptations.