As Feb. 14 draws near, Student Stores has put up a display of pink Tar Heel shirts, Chapel Hill Florist is inundated with bouquet orders, and the Walgreens on Franklin Street is preparing for the last-minute rush assistant manager Andy Houlbrooke said he is expecting.
Walgreens has an entire aisle especially devoted to the holiday and is selling specialized items like heart-shaped Peeps, pink underwear printed with the words “sugar spice”, and giant plush hearts with smiley faces. Houlbrooke estimated that all of the Valentine’s Day merchandise shipped to the store totaled roughly 400 boxes.
Despite this impressive display and the predicted rush, on a more personal level Houlbrooke said the holiday purchasing frenzy just means a busier workday for Walgreens staff.
“It’s so repetitive,” he said. “We do it every year. It’s just one of those things for us.”
Although Houlbrooke predicted all of the Valentine’s Day paraphernalia will be sold out by the end of the 14th, for many UNC students and community members Valentine’s Day is about more than these purchases.
Peter Diaz, an undergraduate student, said he doesn’t plan on buying anything for Valentine’s Day this year.
“I feel that trying to buy love doesn’t communicate the right sentiment,” Diaz said. “You can’t put a price on love.”
Student Samarth Vasisht said his Valentine’s Day plans will probably be to write a letter to his long-distance girlfriend.
“You shouldn’t have to buy something for someone on that specific day,” Vasisht said. “(Valentine’s Day has) become very commercialized.”
Global studies professor Michal Osterweil has studied the effects of commercialization on society.
“What is particularly sad to me about Valentine’s Day is what more do we need at this time in humanity but love?” Osterweil said. “But when you turn love into something that’s bought and sold, you lose the truly radical nature and potential of love.”
Sales manager at Student Stores Mike Handy reflected this view of the holiday expressed by members of the UNC community.
“Valentine’s Day business-wise is not a big thing,” he said.
Although a display of pink UNC regalia has been put up, Handy said he thinks the most exciting Valentine’s Day-related thing at the Student Stores will be a free Valentine-making event held all day at the Bull’s Head Bookshop Wednesday and Thursday.
Student Shep Hardison said that although he won’t be buying anything for Valentine’s Day, he will make his roommate a card.
“It’s just a day to value the people who are important to you in your life,” Vasisht said.
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