Picture Santa’s workshop on Christmas Eve and you’ll have a fairly accurate image of University Florist and Gift Shop on Valentine’s Day.
The Franklin Street institution sells hundreds of bouquets and floral arrangements every Feb. 14, and this Valentine’s Day was no different.
On Thursday, Stephen Consoli, a deliverer for University Florist, woke up at 5 a.m. to start his workday. He finished 12 hours and hundreds of flowers later.
He said preparation for Valentine’s Day begins weeks in advance.
“The designers were here until 1 a.m. last night preparing arrangements,” he said.
And extra hands were roped in to help — two additional designers and three more drivers joined the ranks Thursday to get orders out on time.
Consoli said he took the delivery job last Valentine’s Day on a whim.
“After spending a whole day delivering flowers, I was hooked,” he said. “The best part is seeing the look on someone’s face when you hand them flowers.”
Though the majority of Valentine’s Day arrangements are 12 roses, he said plenty of people choose to buy tulips, lilies and irises.
Thomas Gooding, a freshman political science major at UNC, said he relied on University Florist staff to help him choose what to include in his girlfriend’s bouquet.
“I don’t even know what’s in there, I think there’s spray roses,” Gooding said. “I didn’t want to be boring and get a dozen red roses.”
“I think the flowers will really show my girlfriend how much she means to me,” he said.
The designers at University Florist are used to coming up with fresh arrangement ideas — every week, they make arrangements at D.B. Sutton & Co. and The Franklin Hotel.
Consoli said regular gigs like these are a large part of the florist’s revenue, but days like Valentine’s Day are still huge for University Florist.
Flowers often get more expensive on Valentine’s Day — Consoli said prices can rise as high as an additional $2 per stem.
Services like 1-800-FLOWERS have hardly affected sales, he said.
“Most teleflower services go through the local florist, which is us,” Consoli said. “They take a cut, but we still get profits.”
Many Chapel Hill residents moved from gifts to a night on the town.
More than 120 people made reservations for a special Valentine’s Day dinner at Elaine’s on Franklin, which ran up to $99 per person.
“I think taking someone out for fine dining on Valentine’s Day shows them they’re worth your while,” said Elaine’s back waiter Josh Rose.
And the thrill of being a part of people’s expressions of love has yet to get old for Consoli.
“I would love to have this job for the rest of my life,” he said. “I would even do it without getting paid.”
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