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Economy scales back, but doesn’t hinder, Valentine’s Day gift-giving

By Staff | Feb 13, 2010

Some locals plan to spend a little less money on their sweetheart this year for Valentine’s Day, citing a tight budget in a down economy.
Donald and Paula Rivers, of Cape Coral, have been married for 22 years. Donald Rivers explained that the couple typically celebrate their love each year with an evening out on the town, but he is planning a more economical Valentine’s Day for 2010 in response to harder times.
“I would take my wife away to a show or something like that,” Rivers said. “But now it’s candy and I’ll cook her dinner at the house.”
“When you don’t know what’s going to be happening, you try to spare every penny,” he added.
Travis Petersen and Jennifer Greer echoed Rivers.
“Obviously, we’re not going to be doing as much as we were going to do because of the money situation,” Petersen said.
The couple, who have been together for three years but have known each other longer, have a 1-year-old daughter, Ashlynn Petersen. Petersen said he works in construction and his hours have been cut back at work.
“So that actually cuts it down right there,” he said.
According to Petersen, he and Greer typically go out to dinner on Valentine’s Day and he purchases the larger box of chocolates and other gifts for Greer. This year, though, they will go to a less expensive restaurant, will use coupons if possible, and Greer can likely expect a smaller box of candy.
Petersen added that he saw a box of Ghirardelli chocolates wrapped in velvet that he wanted to buy for Greer but could not.
“I’d love to get that for her, but we’ve got other bills to pay,” he said.
Despite locals reporting that they will spend less this Valentine’s Day, area businesses say sales are up from last year’s holiday.
Diane Young, owner of Diamonds by Diane at 2323 Del Prado Blvd., said she has been in business for nine years and Valentine’s Day has always been a big day of the year for her store.
“Actually, our sales are stronger than they were last year for Valentine’s Day,” Young said. “And so was Christmas.”
She attributed the solid sales to offering a great value, providing a positive shopping experience and enticing customers with a deal. For Valentine’s Day, Diamonds by Diane is offering with every purchase of $50 or more an “I Love You” helium balloon, a red rose, a split of champagne and a box of chocolate-covered strawberries.
Customers also have an opportunity to win a Russian white diamond worth approximately $800.
“It’s all about giving them a good value and a positive experience,” Young said. “Even if they don’t buy anything.”
For June’s Hallmark Shop, 1339 Cape Coral Parkway E., this is the final year the store will offer local shoppers gifts and keepsakes to purchase for Valentine’s Day. Jane Hartz, who has owned the shop for 30 years, said the store is going out of business in March.
“We’ve seen a big increase (in sales) due to the fact that everything is 50 percent off,” she said. “Easter and all seasonal things are 50 percent off.”
Though Hartz believes the store’s high volume of sales is tied to the price reduction, she said customers have cited the down economy as a reason for seeking out great deals on Valentine’s gifts.
“Oh, they’re very happy that we have the sale going on,” Hartz said. “They all mention that the economy is so bad that any break they can get is good.”
“Everything is selling very, very quickly right now,” she added.
One item that has been a hit with customers is a crystal rose that sells for $5.95 but is 50 percent off. The store also has a collection of Valentine’s Day cards and other gifts left.
“The crystal rose is really the best thing in the store,” Hartz said. “It looks like Waterford crystal.”
For Cape resident Madelyn Rende, this year’s Valentine’s Day will differ from previous years because she and her husband, Steven, have plans to go out to dinner.
“We usually don’t do anything,” she said.
Married for 42 years, the couple plans to go out to dinner with neighbors who are celebrating their 30th anniversary. Rende said she and her husband likely will not watch their spending too closely at dinner despite the down economy.
“I think we’re going to splurge because we usually don’t do much,” she said.