Love is in the air: Marco Island merchants offer help with Valentine’s Day shopping

It’s coming. Valentine’s Day, when every man’s love for his partner is measured in dollars and cents, is right around the corner of the calendar. If that sounds less than romantic, consider – a guy who receives a gift, beautifully wrapped, plus a beautifully expressed holiday greeting card, and has nothing to offer in return, is in trouble, even if that trouble doesn’t manifest itself right away.

As Dave Barry put it, “you can’t just open your wallet and say, “Here’s, let’s see … $17!” Planning is called for.

While the trip to Maui or a Lexus, if you missed out on the “December to remember” promotion, is a nearly surefire winner, island merchants are standing by, ready to help the clueless (male) sex stay out of hot water, unless it’s in a hot tub for two.

The classic Valentine’s Day gift is flowers, and the bouquet of a dozen red roses is still number one, said Ray George, owner of China Rose Florist on Bald Eagle Drive.

“It’s a fallback – you can’t go wrong with roses,” said George. His store will be open at 8 a.m. on Valentine’s Day, and yes, you can walk out with the roses, just as if you had planned ahead, he said. “We’ll be open at least until 5 p.m., but after 3, people throw in the towel,” he said.

A dozen roses cost from $65 up at China Rose, and you can spend up to $100 if you want. The season so far has been strong, and they will be very busy leading up to the big day, he added.

Nancy Carrington, owner of Marco Island Florist on Bald Eagle Drive, agreed that the classic remains the king.

“Roses are still it. But we’re selling a lot of assorted Valentine floral designs too,” she said. “Lilies are popular, and the ‘Be Mine’ bouquet, with Gerber daisies and miniature roses is a big seller.” At her shop, a dozen red roses with baby’s breath in a vase costs $85, on up to $100 if you prefer curly willow.

“Prices are higher for Valentine’s Day – it’s supply and demand,” she said. The store also hedges their bets, carrying a line of chocolates, for those who want something instead of, or in addition to, the flowers.

“It’s not just chocolate – it’s Norman Love,” said Carrington. A gourmet heart-shaped chocolate box costs $60.

The Chocolate Strawberry is all about the chocolates, and has a sign out front urging patrons to reserve their chocolate strawberries. Owner Nigel Redwood offers heart-shaped boxes that can be filled with your choice of their handmade chocolates. A one half lb. box starts at $17.50, or $19.50 for velvet with a silk rose, on up to $59.95 for the two-pound box.

“If you’re not going to go for diamonds and gold, candy is your next best choice,” said customer Bob Noffsinger.

If you are going to go for diamonds and gold, Schilling Jewelers wants to talk to you. Owner Anna Schilling displayed a chocolate and white diamond teardrop pendant for $4,100, and a rose and white diamond bracelet for $6,700.

If you hadn’t planned on spending quite so much, Pandora bracelets are a great way to go, she said.

“For $95, you can get a bracelet with a heart, and start from there,” she said. Various beads can be added along the way, as in a charm bracelet, said customer Barbara Bombaci.

“My husband likes it. It’s easy – he knows what to get me.” A completed bracelet can get into the $2,500 range.

Or you could go for a getaway, just closer to home. The Marco Island Marriott has a special deal for Collier County residents only.

“Bring your special someone and celebrate a very romantic Valentine’s Day in paradise,” suggested Jada Shigley, director of reservations at the Marriott. The hotel’s special $199 Valentine’s weekend package includes deluxe guest room reservations and a $100 dining credit.

“We’ll provide the moonlight and candlelight – the rest of the romance is up to you,” she said.

Rick’s Island Salon in the Esplanade treats the customers who come in the day itself.

“As the day goes on, we randomly select people, and offer them gift cards,” said owner Rick Popoff.

Of course, you could go to Publix, and get a card for 99 cents and a bouquet of glads for $3.99. Just remember, she knows how much stuff costs, too.

© 2012 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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