SEBRING - Snip, poke. Snip, poke.
That's what Ladonna Paedae Rodriguez has been doing since Wednesday. She started at 6 a.m. Wednesday, and three designers will be snipping flowers and poking them into arrangements until 7 p.m. tonight.
Valentine's Day is the busiest single day of the year, says Rodriguez, president of Hobby Hill Florist. Three salespeople will work in the shop at 541 N. Ridgewood Drive, and three more people will deliver bouquets.
What do men want on Valentine's Day?
"They think they want roses," said Rodriguez. "That's always traditional."
Rodriguez has ordered 1,500 roses.
But what men often pick, once they get to her shop, is a more creative, elaborate mix of hydrangeas and lilies and daffodils and daisies and tiny white baby's breath in a casual basket or glass vase.
(Guys, take note. a clear glass vase perfectly accents a romantic, candlelit dinner.)
Her husband, Hector, covers another Valentine's Day base at Sebring Jewelers on U.S. 27 North.
Valentine's Day is a big business in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
More than 15,000 florists nationwide employed 66,165 people to arrange more than 280 million buds last year. In February 2013, more than 23,000 jewelry stores sold an estimated $2.8 billion in merchandise.
Rodriguez learned the business by working for 35 years with her mother, who established the shop in 1950.
Do you want a chocolate? More 1,148 American establishments employed 35,538 people to produce chocolate and cocoa products in 2011, and shipped more $13.5 billion.
Forrest Gump could eat about a million and a half of those. His mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get.
What does Rodriguez want for Valentine's Day?
"I love a card," she said.
Hallmark says 5 billion Valentine's Day cards were purchased in 2010. That's way more than Christmas, when only 1.5 billion cards were sold.
Mother's Day, of course, is another busy day for florists, but Rodriguez said Christmas is the busiest period.
Like other small businesses, Hobby Hill uses the web to promote its business. She snaps photos of her favorite arrangements - like an ocean-themed one that incorporated sea shells - on her smart phone, then posts them on her website at www.hobbyhillflorist.com.