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Spreading the love: Moses Lake florists gear up for Valentine’s Day

by CASEY MCCARTHY
Staff Writer | February 12, 2021 1:00 AM

MOSES LAKE —It’s that time of the year.

When Cupid’s arrows soar through the air, with Valentine’s Day coming Sunday. Messages of love are shared between family and loved ones through chocolates and flowers to celebrate the holiday.

With pandemic restrictions still limiting gatherings and events, this Valentine’s Day, like other recent holidays, will mean more people celebrating at home. Floral shops in the Columbia Basin have taken orders since the beginning of the month, and they work vigorously this week to get everything ready.

Michelle Hocking is a part-owner of Floral Occasions floral shop on South Ash Street in Moses Lake. She said this year’s flower orders haven’t been as many as usual, with the holiday falling on the weekend, but workers have taken orders since last week.

She said it’s nice having some time to get things ready, but realizes a lot of last-minute orders might still come.

“Guys are last-minute. We’re kind of expecting the panic to set in about Thursday and the realization about Friday that they need to get something to their wife’s office or at least home for the weekend,” Hocking said. “It’s our Super Bowl.”

Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are typically the busiest times of the year for floral shops. Hocking said workers there have been busier all year, with a lot of people unable to visit or spend time with loved ones due to restrictions from the pandemic.

She said sending flowers or plants to loved ones is the only way some people have to keep in touch and let others know they’re thinking of them.

“Especially patients in the hospital, they’re not allowed to have anybody there, so their only connection is flowers or something,” Hocking said. “That’s the only way for people to let them know they’re thinking of them.”

Throughout the past year or so, she said she saw immense help from the public wanting to support local businesses over the bigger box chains. She said she really noticed the trend around Christmas time, as people stopped by the store to order flowers.

“We can’t have the cheaper prices of the box stores because we don’t have the volume, and they understand that,” Hocking said. “They are still willing to come in and spend a little extra to support local businesses. That was huge.”

Hocking said ordering flowers and plants from suppliers ahead of time during the pandemic was an adjustment, but something the store has gotten used to since things first shifted last spring. She said workers tried to stay ahead of the curve when they could and anticipate needs.

She said it can be risky ordering heavily ahead of time, but more often than not it worked out for the best in the long run. For Mother’s Day 2020, patrons went online to figure out their orders while unable to come into the store.

This winter, Hocking said it has been helpful for people to come in and get an idea of what they’re looking for, offering up examples.

“It’s nice when they come in and we can say, ‘Come look in the cooler,’ and actually let them see what they’re gonna get,” Hocking said. “Then we don’t have them saying, ‘Oh, I thought it was going to be bigger from the picture online.’”

Whether it’s Christmas, Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, Hocking said workers’ families typically hold off their own celebrations until after the business side is out of the way. She said her children, siblings and relatives will all help deliver orders for the holidays, making it a sort of family tradition in its own right.

While the traditional dinner and a movie Valentine’s Day date might be out the window this year, with movie theaters closed and restaurants still limited in capacity, there are still some chances to get out with loved ones and support local businesses in the process.

Grant County Fairgrounds will host Spring Farmer’s Market on Saturday in place of the traditional Cupid’s Market this year. Beaumont Cellars Winery in Quincy will host a similar event at noon Saturday, with its Valentine’s Market.

The Quincy winery will have its outdoor tent set up, as they host a number of local vendors on Saturday afternoon. Christie Gilbert, manager for Beaumont Cellars, said it had similar markets during the summer and holidays to support local vendors.

“It’s free for them and they can just come out and set up a booth,” Gilbert said. “We’ve got fields and lots of room to spread everybody out and let them sell their items.”

Gilbert said some chocolate bombs and homemade chocolates will be for sale on Saturday, but she isn’t sure what other Valentine’s specials there will be. She said she is sure a lot of the vendors will gear their booths for the holiday celebration.

She also said there were good showings at previous outdoor markets. While regulations still limit activity under Gov. Jay Inslee’s Phase 1 reopening plan, Gilbert said it has been nice to have the outdoor space available in Quincy.

“It’s been a lifesaver to have that space and abide by all those different rules they’ve put on us,” Gilbert said.

The Valentine’s Market kicks off at noon on Saturday in Quincy, while the Spring Farmer’s Market in Moses Lake at the fairgrounds is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Casey McCarthy can be reached via email at cmccarthy@columbiabasinherald.com.

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Casey McCarthy/Columbia Basin Herald

Flower arrangements fill the floor and shelves inside the flower cooler at Floral Occasions floral shop in Moses Lake on Wednesday.

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Casey McCarthy/Columbia Basin Herald

Stevee Lincoln, designer for Floral Occasions in Moses Lake, works on flower arrangements on Wednesday morning with her workspace nearly already filled up early in the day.

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Casey McCarthy/Columbia Basin Herald

Reds, yellows, pinks and all assortments of colors filled the vases in the back of Floral Occasions floral shop on Wednesday afternoon as Valentine's Days orders are put together ahead of the weekend holiday.

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Casey McCarthy/Columbia Basin Herald

Carol Seal, part-owner of Floral Occasions floral shop in Moses Lake, puts the final touches on a flower arrangement she was working on Wednesday morning.