Normandy Flower Shop. Grace Ramey, DN File
Muncie flower shop and candy store gear up for their busiest holiday
It starts in South America. A tiny seed sprouts into a bud, soon to become a gift for that someone special. At least, that’s the process at Normandy Flower Shop, Inc.
Judy Venken, the president of Normandy Flower Shop, said Valentine’s Day is the biggest single-day holiday in terms of sales that the shop sees.
“For a one-day holiday, Valentine’s Day kills it,” Venken said. “During Mother’s Day, it’s kind of all week long. People don’t mind sending things a little early to mom, but when it’s their sweetheart, they kind of want them on that day. Thankfully some people don’t mind. We’re sending some orders out on the 12th and the 13th, but our stack for the 14th is kind of frightening.”
Venken said the shop has already received more than 700 roses in the last few days in order to prepare for the holiday.
“Around Valentine’s Day it’s always roses. Roses is the name of the game,” Venken said. We still have some ladies who prefer tulips or the big Gerbera daisies. We still have people who just like carnations.”
Venken, who has been in the flower business with Normandy for 35 years said it takes a whole year to prepare for Valentine’s Day, and she wants the work that the employees do to last a long time.
“Depending on the flower, different things require different treatment,” Venken said. “We use flower food and flower preservatives in the water to help them last longer. It changes the PH balance, it feeds the flower and cuts down on the bacteria build up.”
After making the arrangements, Normandy employees hand-deliver the products directly to the recipient.
“Usually we try to call the recipient first to make sure someone is home,” Venken said. “Hopefully then everyone is happy afterwards.”
After completing Valentine’s Day Sales, Venken said her crew would gear up for its next big day of sales, Mother’s Day.
It starts with a 50-pound box of chocolate. A 10-pound bar gets melted and molded into a sweet treat. At least, that’s the process at Lowery’s Candies.
Charles Joseph, the president of Lowery’s Candies, said Valentine’s Day is the store’s biggest day for foot traffic.
“Valentine’s business is always crazy,” Joseph said. “Literally, a ton-and-a-half of candy will go out the door during Valentine’s. Keep in mind those are our individual pieces and not just the bulk chocolate.”
After the blocks of chocolate are broken up with an ice pick and melted down, an employee dips the home-made candies by hand. It is this technique that Joseph says separates Lowery’s candies from all other chocolate because it allows the candy to have little to no wax like one would find in a name brand candy.
Joseph said the Lowery’s employees prepare for the extra work for weeks in advance.
“Everyone takes it as a real fun challenge. The front sales room will kind of be a natural line that forms around the outside,” he said. “The ladies take it as a challenge and want to see that line continue to keep moving and moving. The Lowery’s ladies take it really personal.”
Joseph said that the number one rule of Lowery’s is “quality, not quantity,” which is becoming increasingly difficult due to lack of ingredients.
“A lot of the ingredient places have dried up over the years,” he said.” There’s only three places where we can get sugar and certain ingredients. There’s only one box company that makes our stock boxes in Indiana.”
For now though, Joseph said the employees are taking the holiday season in stride.
“It’s a really wonderful feeling after the holiday when you go back to the shelves and those shelves are obliterated. It’s kind of an awe feeling,” he said.
After Valentine’s Day, Joseph said his crew will prepare for Father’s Day before taking their summer break.