By John Ramos

WALNUT CREEK (KPIX) — Second only to Mothers’ Day, Valentine’s Day is a lucrative time of the year for florists and, while the pandemic may be changing the way business is done, it hasn’t dampened people’s desire to say “I love you.”

Countrywood Florist in Walnut Creek was already fully booked with orders through Valentine’s Day but, Saturday morning, they took pity on Chinua Birden who insisted men shouldn’t have to be too creative when shopping for their sweethearts.

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“Valentine’s Day, (women) think is their birthday so they want something other than flowers or candy,” he said. “But, for the record, Valentine’s Day is flowers and candy!”

Countrywood co-owner Carrie Horning says the shop has been busy during the pandemic but there has been one noticeable difference.

“Usually it’s sending it to your partner, your spouse and whatnot,” she said, “and this year there’s been a lot of going to family members and, you know, ‘miss you, can’t wait to see you, can’t wait to celebrate everything with you soon!’”

Love was also in the air at Floral Arts in Lafayette but much of it was coming from owner Nese Ganch to her staff who braved the coronavirus to work long hours as the orders continued to pour in.

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“We will celebrate it once we complete our last order for tomorrow,” Nese said. “I will open up a bottle of wine and we will celebrate it with my staff — and I have the best staff here!”

Back in May, the city of Berkeley would not allow Ashby Flowers to sell anything direct from its small shop at Ashby and Telegraph, even though the Whole Foods next door could. At the time, owner Marcy Simon was so mad she made KPIX hide her face when speaking about it during an interview. As a result:

“I got millions of phone calls, e-mails, social media comments and people ordering from us,” she said.

The outpouring of support from the community warmed Marcy’s heart and, on Saturday with the rules now relaxed, customers lined up to buy flowers. Simon has become a bit more philosophical about the whole thing.

“You know, it was early on, people didn’t know,” she said. “We have all become adjusted to functioning in a different way now so, for us, this is the new normal.”

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Florists say this has actually been a good year for business as people search for ways to stay connected during the pandemic.