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Local flower shop bows up for Valentine's Day
Hundreds of hand-tied red ribbons fill a Renton flower shop wall in anticipation of a busy Valentine's Day weekend.
Each year orders of roses pack the Heritage Flowers storefront, and a line of customers hopes they didn't procrastinate too long.
"We always try to have flowers for them," said owner Sa Tran of the last-minute romantics. "It's really busy."
While millions will flood superstores and grocers for Valentine flowers, shops like Heritage offer long-lasting bouquets with a personal touch.
The Fairwood shop's flowers are shipped in one to two days from Ecuador. The South American country is known for its quality long-stem roses, Tran said. "We get them every day."
Chain stores offer lower prices, but the flowers are often over a week old before they hit the storefront, she said.
"If you're a florist, you can definitely tell the difference," said flower designer Audrey Pace.
About 75 percent of Heritage's flower sales are roses this time of year.
Demand for flowers during the season drives up prices by two or three times for Heritage, Tran said. "It costs a lot more."
The only holiday that compares to this level of demand is Mother's Day, she said. "We put in a lot of hours."
Tran stays up until about 2 a.m. Valentine's Day morning arranging roses and mixed bouquets.
In the shop's back room, baskets hang down from the ceiling like grape vines. Shelves are lined with empty vases, looking much like blank canvasses.
The sweet aroma of fresh leafs and budding flowers brightens the room.
"You have to be really creative to be a florist," Pace said.
Designing arrangements is Tran's favorite part of the shop.
Pace also enjoys brightening people's day, she said. "Even when you do funeral flowers, you're still making people happy."
During peak days, Tran hires five drivers for Valentine's weekend and breaks down the deliveries by zip code.
Heritage delivers as far as Tacoma and Issaquah.
A successful Web site draws customers from throughout the country hoping to send a loved one in the area a treat.
"People don't even use phone books anymore," Tran said, adding, they know the quality of our flowers."