Love blooms via local floral shops on Valentine’s Day

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Shelly Zinkle, co-owner of Zinkle’s Piggly Wiggly & Blooming Basket, stands surrounded by floral bouquets she and her staff created Thursday, Feb. 12, to be sold the next day. The Blooming Basket delivered about 150 to 200 orders locally on Friday and expected around the same number on Saturday. (Photos by Correne Martin)

For Valentine’s Day, Dan Shimala, of Prairie du Chien, special ordered a large clear vase with a dozen long-stemmed roses—each a different color—for his wife

Pictured in the walk-in cooler at Kemble’s Greenhouse are local residents’ Valentine’s Day orders for Friday afternoon.

A display of red and pink valentine's flowers fill the display cooler at Kemble's.

By Correne Martin

Sweet messages of love are spread every Valentine’s Day in various ways. Some choose sentimental cards, tried-and-true chocolates, a romantic dinner, or special homemade gifts. But, flowers may be the most beautiful way to express one’s endearment to another.

On Friday, Feb. 13, two local floral shops, Kemble’s Greenhouse and Zinkle’s Piggly Wiggly & Blooming Basket, were abuzz with the excitement of flower orders, florists arranging bouquets and delivery vehicles packed with blossoms of vibrant reds, pinks, peaches and violets.

“The phone was ringing off the hook, starting around 7 this morning. Our delivery workers are already on their second run,” Kemble’s Owner Wendy Wachter said around 10:30 a.m. Friday. “It’s much smoother this year, with Valentine’s Day falling on Saturday, so we’ve had a lot of business deliveries today and more of the personal ones will go Saturday.”

Kemble’s had two different delivery teams on the road making stops all over Prairie du Chien and to the area’s extended communities such as Eastman, Wauzeka, Patch Grove, Marquette and McGregor. The Blooming Basket had three vans out delivering Friday. Both businesses made a number of multiple business deliveries, to places like Cabela’s, dental clinics, schools and nursing homes.

“We had lots of calls right away and the noon hour will be busy too,” added Kemble’s Designer Peggy Tesar. “Once the factories get off around 2 and 3, more people will come in personally.”

“When we’re not busy waiting on customers, we’re catching up on putting arrangements together,” Kemble’s Designer Sue Rose said as she kept busy positioning flowers in a vase. Both Kemble’s and the Blooming Basket had three designers on the job most times as well.

“What we made yesterday, we will sell today. Then we replenish,” Piggly Wiggly Co-owner Shelly Zinkle said Friday afternoon. In addition to a large walk-in cooler not far from the floral counter, the Blooming Basket also has the luxury of a cooler three times that size in the store’s produce department.

Kemble’s has a small cooler in its back room, but it was overflowing with orders Friday. “You could hardly walk into it this morning,” Wachter said.

The Valentine’s Day rush is one of the most thrilling times of year for both businesses. “It’s exciting,” Wachter said, “because the customers are so happy.”

Popular blooms for this year’s holiday, at Kemble’s, include tulips, stargazer lilies, gerbera daisies, bells of Ireland, and potted plants including hyacinths and daffodils. Of course, the traditional roses will never be out of demand either. Wachter proudly showed off a bucket of long-stemmed roses in lavender, peach and yellow and noted, “This year’s roses are the best-looking we’ve ever had. They’re just gorgeous.”

At the Blooming Basket, roses are at the heart of most purchases. “It’s always roses,” Zinkle said, as her fellow designers agreed. “Lilies are a favorite too.”

Though the delivery helpers at either establishment couldn’t be tracked down on Friday, Tesar said it’s always heartwarming to see the expression on a person’s face when they’re surprised with flowers.

“Delivery is fun, especially to the elderly. They might not see people as often, so they always like to talk too.”

Zinkle said her business made between 150 and 200 deliveries Friday alone. Saturday was expected to be just as busy. The Blooming Basket delivers in Prairie du Chien and within 20 miles of the city as well. She said, every year, there’s about 30 repeat customers, and many of them place the same flower order each year.

“It’s mostly for wives and girlfriends, and some moms and daughters,” Zinkle said. “One dad comes in every year and buys for his six little girls.”

She noted that candy bouquets are a hot trend for female shoppers seeking valentines for their men. And balloons are popular for children.

“Our record for the biggest order would be three dozen roses in a vase,” she added.

Around 3:30 p.m. Friday, about a dozen men were shopping at the Blooming Basket, checking out the Valentine’s flowers. One of those customers, Dan Shimala, of Prairie du Chien, special ordered a large clear vase with a dozen long-stemmed roses—each a different color—for his wife.

“It’s our first Valentine’s Day married,” he said. “I’ve never been married, but we’ve been together a long time. I figure, one color of rose represents one year we’ve been together.”

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