Rose of Sharon’s Santa Maria showroom was relatively quiet just before Monday’s noon lunch rush, the calm before the Valentine’s Day floral storm that swells today.

The florist’s back room bustled with designers carefully arranging and marking colorful bouquets that will be delivered today to area valentines as traditional holiday gifts.

“We work through the night,” said Ron Rose, who has owned and operated Rose of Sharon at 703 E. Main St. for 30 years.

Rose expects this year’s Valentine’s Day sales to top last year’s, which is in line with a National Retail Federation survey that predicts the average person will spend $126.03 on flowers, chocolates, jewelry and more, up 8.5 percent over last year’s $116.21. Those average spenders also are the biggest spenders in the survey’s 10-year history. Total spending is supposed to top out at $17.6 billion.

Some local florists are seeing the sales jump, including Rose of Sharon, whose customers are forking out about $130 per purchase.

“California typically is a little later coming out of recession, so it’s kind of nice to see that maybe we’re going to hold our own,” said Rose, who expected to sell out of the popular $15 dozen red roses arrangements Monday.

“This is going to be a better year, we would expect, because it’s a Tuesday,” he added. “Historically, a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday Valentine’s Day is better for florists. It’s a last-minute holiday, for sure. It’s male-driven. We always try to encourage guys to get (flowers) out a day early. (But) we will be prepared.”

Bill Tomasini, owner of A Little Something floral shop in Santa Maria, is expecting a similar boost.

On Monday afternoon, he was just about out of red roses, though many women have told him they’d prefer assorted arrangements instead.

He won’t say the economy is turning around just yet.

“I’m afraid to say ‘Yes, it is’ because I’m going to jinx it,” Tomasini said. “You can’t plan on anything anymore like you used to be able to.”

The holidays also have been safer and cleaner, Tomasini said, since the

Santa Maria City Council in 2009 voted to ban street-corner flower vendors that aren’t part of brick-and-mortar businesses around Valentine’s Day.

“My issue wasn’t so much that they were selling flowers,” Tomasini said, noting drivers gawking at vendors on the sidewalk. “It’s safer, it looks a lot better.”

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Business also is looking better for Connie Clancy, owner of Lompoc Valley Florist and Home Decor at 1026 North H St. since 1984.

Clancy expects sales for today’s holiday will be the best in three or four years, with most male customers buying a dozen red roses for $79.99.

“More customers, more sales, but I also take into consideration it fell on a three-day weekend last year,” Clancy said. “I think the economy is getting boosted now. I am having to order more roses. It’s been really crazy.” 

The Vandenberg Village Lions Club will provide delivery vehicles for Clancy’s orders today as part of a fundraiser for scholarship funds and more.

Shoppers can try calling in flower orders today, but florists warned phone lines likely will be jammed.

Clancy said weathering through many holidays has taught her to expect last-minute shoppers.

“We have a lot of plants made up, decorated,” she said, “so we’re ready for them.”

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