By Hadley Barndollar, Staff Writer
Last year, on the night before Valentine’s Day, Kaitlyn Bassett slept on the floor of the Red Carpet Flower Shop.
As a flower shop owner, Bassett recalled that she worked until 4 a.m., slept for two hours and then awoke at 6 a.m. to start the day’s festivities.
For a day Bassett calls ‘insane,’ the preparations begin weeks ahead of time.
“We’ve already started wrapping individual roses,” said Bassett, who has owned the shop for two years. “When we get our flowers in, a lot of them are still in bud form, so we have to cut the stem, let them hydrate and let them bloom in time for our customers to pick them up. We fill a lot of water tubes, we green up vases. So when it’s time for my designers to make bouquets, the basics are done.”
Since the shop is a popular destination in Durham for the romantic holiday, Bassett hires 20 extra workers for the special day in addition to her four year-round employees. These include delivery drivers, cashiers and behind the scenes help. When Bassett put out a sign looking for this year’s Valentine’s Day help, she had received 50 inquiries in one day. She acknowledges that she needs all of the assistance she can get.
“Lines are out the door,” said Bassett, who predicts that 30 percent of her orders will in fact come in on Valentine’s Day from last minute buyers.
Last year, Bassett ordered 3,000 red roses and ran out. She hopes that for this year, she’s done enough preparation to not run into shortages again.
“So far I have about 125 deliveries for Friday and about 100 for Saturday,” Bassett said. “As far as walk-ins, we just have to prepare for that. That’s why we really encourage pre-ordering and calling us to schedule a delivery or pickup because we can have flowers ready in advance.”
So who is the typical customer in the Red Carpet Flower Shop on Valentine’s Day? UNH’s male students.
“Half the time the guys come in, they have no idea what they want,” said Amanda Martin, shop manager. “They go, ‘Can you help me? Can you please help me? It’s for my girlfriend.’ It’s 95 percent of the guys that come in here. But it’s funny because they all say the same thing: ‘just need help.’”
But Martin and Bassett both assure that’s exactly what they’re there for. And that is what they enjoy most about the holiday.
“Many of the customers are very overwhelmed, thinking they’re either last minute or they don’t know what they want,” Bassett said. “But everyone in the shop is here to help you out.”
Last Valentine’s Day, the shop did a trade with the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. The brothers volunteered in the shop and helped deliver flowers. In exchange for their assistance, they each got a free bouquet to give to their loved ones.
“It was nice to have boys in the flower shop,” Bassett laughed.
This year, the shop is offering bouquet specials, consisting of arrangements of their most popular flowers. These range from $29.95 to $64.95.
As for working in a flower shop on Valentine’s Day, Martin attributes the atmosphere to the right combination of chaos and excitement.
“It’s crazy,” Martin said. “It’s tons of fun, an adrenaline rush. There’s so much going on at once; you’re being pulled in 50 different directions.”
For some number shockers, the shop orders almost two months worth of flowers for one day.
Bassett has made her own sacrifices to deliver flowers to the people of Durham and UNH students. She has spent the past several Valentine’s Days working in the shop and not with her fiancé. But Bassett sees great benefits in contributing to the community on such a charismatic holiday.
“On Valentine’s Day, I love to make people happy,” Bassett said. “My goal is to get everything done and make sure I’m delivering the freshest products possible. It’s just such a happy industry to be in.”
If there is one message the shop stays true to, it’s that love is for all, meaning they make it easy for everyone to afford something for his or her valentine.
“I don’t want people to think that because we’re a flower shop you have to break the bank to get someone some flowers,” Bassett said. “We work with all budgets. You can buy a single rose, a single flower or an extravagant bouquet.”