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Saying it with flowers on Valentine's Day

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Red roses still rule on Valentine's Day - the holiday of love.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Nancy's Flowers staffer Bethany Ryan inspects a long-stemmed rose Monday, one day before Valentine's Day. The workforce at Nancy's Floral more than triples the week or two before Valentine's Day as thousands of roses, chocolates and other tokens of love are offloaded from trucks and transformed into demonstrations of devotion.

"We work 24 hours a day from Sunday up to Tuesday (Feb. 14)," said Rob Cook, general manager of Nancy's. Cook expects to make as many as 1,000 deliveries on Valentine's Day and 600 to 800 the day before. On a normal day, Nancy's makes fewer than 100 deliveries.

Valentine's Day is big business. Americans spend more than $13 billion on Valentine's Day flowers, gifts and celebrations, according to the website Statistics Brain.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - A bouquet of roses awaits delivery Monday Morning at Nancy's Flowers in Gresham. The average customer spends about $116. Nearly 200 million roses are cut for the holiday, and men buy 73 percent of all Valentine's Day posies. But about 85 percent of Valentine's Day greeting cards are bought by women, according to Statistics Brain.

Candy is the most popular gift, with 47 percent of lovers getting sweets for their sweet. Flowers are next at 34 percent.

Most lovers stick with tradition.

"Red roses are always a classic choice," Cook said. Nancy's offers a dozen of the long-stemmed lovelies from $79.99 to $129.99.

"We do a good variety of other mixed bouquets in valentine colors," he said. Other popular items are edible fruit bouquets and chocolate-dipped strawberries. Nancy's, located at 620 N.E. Burnside Road, sells more than 2,000 strawberries over the holiday.

Nancy's can also provide a beloved with chocolates, plush animals, balloons, and this year the shop is offering cupcakes in a jar. "We can do all kinds of different packages with different items," he said.

The normal staff of 20 swells to 75 or more in the few days before the holiday. Some drivers, designers and other workers come back to the shop year after year during the extra busy periods. Members of nonprofit organizations such as Kiwanis can join the delivery team and earn money for their groups.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - A volunteer picks up a bouquet of Valentine's Day flowers from Nancy's Flowers in Gresham. A team of volunteers from Meals on Wheels and other local groups delivered hundreds of bouquets to area residents for the holiday.

For the Valentine's Day rush, Nancy's adds a 52-foot refrigerated trailer for more flower storage and a garage turns into a staging area for deliveries. Some flowers come in as early as a week before the holiday and are babied into their full blossom.

About 60 percent of the Valentine's Day business is from phone and orders from sources such at FTD or 1-800-FLOWERS. About 25 percent is walk-ins and the rest are from Nancy's website.

Cook said he is always surprised by the folks, mostly men, who wait until the very last minute to grab something for their funny valentine. "People who wait until the end don't always get what they are looking for," he said.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Nancy's Flowers employee Nila Hamilton pieces together a Valentine's Day bouquet Monday morning during one of the shop's busiest days of the  year.  And gents beware, Statistics Brain discovered that 53 percent of women said they would end a relationship if they didn't get something on their day to celebrate romance.

And what does Cook's wife get on this special day of love?

"I make an arrangement from whatever is left," he said, but always brings an arrangement for his wife and daughter and balloons or candy for his sons. "I always make sure the rest of the customers get what they want. But there are always plenty of goodies around to make beautiful arrangements for my wife and daughter."