Community prepares for commercial, romantic rush

For Theresa Blankenship, owner of Something Sweet, a bakery and candy shop in Murphysboro, preparation for the week of Valentine’s Day begins with baking heart-shaped and red velvet cakes and filling them with homemade fillings including cream cheese, chocolate turtles and dipped strawberries.

Looking for the right gift for that special someone on Valentine’s Day can be a hassle, but local establishments have put in the time to accommodate customers in aiding their search for the perfect item.

Grocery stores, postal services and candy and bakery shops such as Something Sweet, Kroger Florist and the Carbondale U.S. Post Office are at the hands of shoppers for their Valentine’s Day purchases.

Blankenship said she tries to vary from what usual businesses produce for the holiday.

While she said her store was moderately busy Sunday, she expected Monday and the rest of the week to be busier with the rush of Valentine’s Day orders.

“Right now we’re just trying to worry about productivity. We’re trying to stay a day ahead on everything,” she said.

Not only can customers buy sweets for their Valentine while shopping, but they can visit the gift shop and eat cakes and chocolates at the same time.

Although Something Sweet is fairly new, Blankenship said its profits have nearly doubled since the previous Valentine’s Day, but she said she keeps price in consideration, and tries to give customers more than they expect.

As traditional Valentine’s Day gifts, flowers go hand-in-hand with sweets.

Kroger’s floral manager Clarissa Dixon said her Valentine’s Day consists of organizing and making floral arrangements for customers, who have the choice to make special orders, including roses with tulips and lilies or candy arrangements.

Dixon said the store spent $20,000 on flowers, candy and other goods, and hopes to make $29,000.

For shoppers away from their Valentine, mailing cards and gifts are options.

Daniel Finnegan, the supervisor of customer service at the Carbondale U.S. Post Office, said the post office prepares for shipping Valentine’s Day cards and gifts by planning for extra workers and overtime.

“We recognize the importance of all mail, but sometimes the Valentines are particularly important for people and their relationships,” he said. “We do our best to get everything delivered on time and to get those messages of love where they were intended to be.”

Tony Wijs, a senior from Chicago studying radio-television, said he didn’t really have anything prepared for Valentine’s Day, but he said he did send his fiancé a necklace in the mail for the holiday.

He said his fiancé is usually more creative and hands-on with her gifts.

“She created me a little box, using a wood burning kit with designs on it. The box said ‘I pick you’ on it and inside the box was guitar picks, each saying different reasons why she picked me,” Wijs said.

Kraig Kruegr, a junior from St. Louis studying cinema and photography, said he just met a new girl and was planning on asking her out.

He doesn’t expect a gift — he just hopes the night doesn’t turn into a disaster.

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