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Small florist in big industrial park blossoms on Valentine's Day

Violets Florist and Gifts is gearing up for

Violets Florist and Gifts is gearing up for the sweethearts' holiday, Valentine's Day.(Feb. 2, 2012) Credit: Alessandra Malito

Scissors snip away at extra leaves on long-stemmed roses. Little plush gorillas hold hearts asking their loves to be theirs. Big heart-shaped boxes are wrapped in red plastic wrap. Godiva chocolates are placed on tables in front of bouquets of flowers.

It’s that time of year again for Violets Florist and Gifts, the small flower shop in the East Coast’s largest industrial park, Hauppauge Industrial Park.

Suzanne Smith, 37, owner of the flower shop, sees a line of guys holding plush toys and looking at boxes of chocolates while they wait to pick up flowers every Valentine’s Day.

And she sees it from the extended store hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Her shop is especially busy when Valentine’s Day is on a weekday, as it is this year.

Smith, who has been in the flower business for 30 years, 15 of them in the industrial park, has been preparing for weeks.

She ordered 2,000 red roses from local wholesalers. She also has extra part-time holiday employees coming in, unlike the regular two employees.

“It’s so busy on that one single holiday,” Smith said. “It’s the busiest day of the year. Valentine’s Day is a one-day-only holiday.”

Because her shop is in an industrial park, nestled among businesses like AT&T and Long Island Cares, most people come in because they work nearby.

“Years where it’s on Saturday or Sunday, it’s not as crazy,” Smith said. Otherwise, it’s a “line out the door.”

This will be one of those years.

In the past when she has run out of flowers, she has rushed over to her local wholesale stores to pick up more. But for the most part, employees prepare arrangements before the holiday.

“The best we could do to prepare is to have everything we’re going to sell ready,” said Jeanine Amato, 36, who’s been working at the shop for two years.

Violets Florist and Gifts is different from other florists because of its location.

“Most times, Saturday is the busiest day,” Smith said, “whereas here most people are working in the park and not around on the weekends.”

Smith, who lives in Sayville, started working in a flower shop on Fire Island one summer during high school. She then pursued majoring in horticulture at Farmingdale State College.

“It wasn’t a family business,” Smith said. “It was something I absolutely loved to do.”

And working in a flower shop on Valentine’s Day means working closely with customers looking for the perfect flower arrangements.

Smith recalls a customer last year who asked for rose petals and two birds of paradise, a tropical flower, because they were his soon-to-be-fiancee’s favorite flower. He was proposing.

“He was so nervous,” she said. Sometimes she wonders if the men who propose get a yes. As for the birds of  paradise customer, he did.

And after the busiest day of the year, they always get a little recognition for the work they put into the holiday.

“We get phone calls from the women who get the flowers,” Amato said. “They say things like ‘we’ve never got such nice flowers’ or that the dozen roses made their day. Everything we send out here we want to send it out like we were receiving it.”

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