Valentine's Day flower frenzy hits San Francisco

The San Francisco Flower Mart opened early on Tuesday as florists prepared for one of their busiest days of the year-- Valentine's Day. 

"I haven't slept in two days," Darlene Gutierrez, the owner of Love & Stem Flower shop said as she laughed. "I love Christmas, but this is a different kind of excitement."

Alejandro Gomez with Mt. Eden Floral Company had dozens of bouquets of roses ready for sale, some cut fresh and imported from as far away as Ecuador and Columbia. He said they would likely sell out by the end of the day.

Floral wholesalers say some of the most popular items this Valentine's Day are conventional red roses, and also tinted roses. Tinted toses are hand-dyed in colors ranging from black, violet, royal blue and even rainbow.

"My favorite part is coming here, shoping for the flowers, wide open palate to choose from," said Eleanor Gerber-Siff, the owner of Wallflower flower shop in San Francisco. "We all get to do something a little bit different because there's so much variety to choose from here."

Gerber-Siff opened her business during the pandemic and said orders are up since 2021.

Florists and floral wholesalers said, unlike other industries, theirs flourished in the early days of the pandemic.

"The only option was to send flowers. There was nothing else to do, you couldn't go to restaurants," said Raul Duenas, an account manager with Rafa Wholesale Flowers.

"Covid actually moved flowers into the position the U.S flower market wanted it to be in, for a long time," said San Francisco Flower Mart General Manager, Jeanne Boes. "Americans were buying flowers for themselves, to have in their space, a lot of people working from home brought in color and texture," she said.

Some florists said sales wilted slightly once the pandemic - and stay-at-home habits - started to change.

"I'd say we're down about 40 percent since 2020," said Marina Floral Design owner, John Sidharta. "We're pushing the walk-ins, the local [customers]" he said.

A survey from the National Retail Federation found that about 32 percent of people planned to gift "an experience" or special night out for this Valentine's Day, that's up from 26 percent last year.

But another survey from the NRF found that flowers remained one of the top three Valentine's Day purchases, behind only candy and greeting cards.

"Flowers do amazing things for people," Boes said. "They fight depression, reduce stress and just make people happy."