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Florist and her team navigate their way through Valentine’s weekend

When it comes to saying “I love you,” red roses are still the favorite.

Just ask flower shop owner Nancy Gray.

“We order anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 red roses,” Gray said, in anticipation of orders that will come in for Valentine’s Day.

To make sure those orders are met, Gray, who is the owner of Helen’s Florist on Mission Park Drive, said all their “specialty flowers” have to be made three weeks in advance.

This year, due to the pandemic, Gray said she took into account the likelihood more people would be buying flowers for Valentine’s Day when making her order.

“More people are staying in this year,” Gray said, as opposed to going out for a romantic dinner or trip. As a result, they are expressing their sentiments with flowers.

Gray, who has grown up surrounded by flowers — her parents Bobby and Mary Helen Temple opened the business, which was first located on Washington Street more than 50 years ago — said the second-most popular order after red roses is an arrangement of spring flowers.

Helen’s Florist also offers goody baskets and stuffed teddy bears for orders sent to children, as well as oversized balloons, chocolate-covered strawberries and sugar cookies.

With Valentine’s Day being the busiest day of the year for florists, Gray said a large refrigerated truck was brought in earlier in the week to keep the flowers fresh until delivery. Extra workers were also hired.

“We have extras help with design, to make deliveries, and some are out front (at the register) to take orders that come in at the last minute,” she said.

However, because of COVID-19, Gray said, this year most of their orders have been made at their drive-thru window. Customers are also using the drive-thru to pick up orders.

“This allows us to be hands-free and safe,” she said.

And when deliveries are made to someone’s home, social distancing is also practiced.

“We will call our customers and tell them that we are there and will set the flowers or gifts at the front door or wherever they would like,” Gray said. “So we are not making contact.”

Valentine’s Day preparation calls for long days and nights — especially in years when it doesn’t fall on a weekend.

Fortunately, because Valentine’s Day fell on a Sunday this year, Gray said that workplace deliveries were made Friday. Deliveries were also scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

While it might seem odd for anyone who works in a flower shop to ever want flowers, Gray said that is not the case.

“We are like everyone else. It is nice to receive flowers. It makes it special,” she said.

With the last delivery scheduled for Sunday, it would seem plausible Gray and her employees would head directly home to put their feet up on the sofa and relax.

But, this local flower shop owner had other plans.

“While we still have energy, we will clean up and try to get things back to normal for Monday, because we will have Monday orders for those people who forgot,” Gray said.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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