“The most to do in the shortest time—” Willson Florist prepares for Valentine’s Day
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“The most to do in the shortest time—” Willson Florist prepares for Valentine’s Day

When Valentine’s Day comes around, Vermillion residents may think of ordering flowers from Willson Florist for a loved one. But what they may not realize is the amount of time and effort this local flower shop puts into preparing for the holiday.

Willson Florist, co-owned by Emily Sudbeck and her husband Aaron, begin planning for Valentine’s Day in November.

After they get organized and prepare for recurring orders, they estimate how many orders they will get. These estimations are based on previous numbers and the specific day of the week the holiday falls.

Sudbeck said this year is different in terms of preparation because Valentine’s Day is on a Friday, instead of during the week.

“Typically, the number of call-in orders decreases, but the walk-in orders increase,” Sudbeck said. “Until it’s over, though, we never know how many orders we’ve gotten.”

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She said because of trend changes, she adapts her supply orders based on customer requests.

“Right now, the pretty-but-simple look with lots of greens is really popular. Five years ago, orders for a dozen roses were popular, but we’re not seeing as many of those anymore,” Sudbeck said. “It really does change year to year. It’s a guessing game when we order.”

Valentine’s Day is Willson Florist’s busiest holiday—Sudbeck estimates a 600% increase in orders compared to regular weeks. The business, however, has limited time to complete all its orders during the holiday.

“For Christmas, we have a month. This is a two-week mad dash. It’s the most we have to do in the shortest time,” Sudbeck said. “Normally, we might have fifty orders in a week. For Valentine’s Day, we have hundreds.”

To assist in the workload, Willson Florist enlists the help of past workers. These former employees return to work exclusively on Valentine’s Day orders. Sudbeck calls them her “flower shop family.”

The work gets especially hectic the week of the holiday, Sudbeck said.

“If you come in on Valentine’s Day, you will see all of those tables filled with people, filled with orders, filled with vases; the entire space is consumed by people running around,” Sudbeck said. “We have three sets of computers and four sets of phones, and they’re all being used the majority of the time.”

Despite the amount of work Willson Florist puts into Valentine’s Day orders, Sudbeck said she finds the experience heartwarming.

“Everyone has somebody to love, and everybody is happy on Valentine’s Day when we bring them flowers,” Sudbeck said. “It’s a happy day in general.”