While romantic candlelight dinners, dancing and a night out may be the highlight for most people on Valentine's Day, today is also important for many businesses from an economic standpoint.
And in a time when the economy remains a struggle for families and individuals, holidays like Valentine's Day can be a lifeline to some small businesses in Rifle.
Floral store hopes to double business
Kristine Llacuna and her mother, Vicki Todd, have operated Ladybug Express, 133 W. Third St., since April 2011. Llacuna said Valentine's Day last year was the floral store's busiest and called it "pretty awesome."
"I'm hoping we can double it this year," Llacuna added. "We did everything in about two days, so it was pretty hectic. Most of the other holidays, you have weeks or several days" to prepare orders.
The business offers to place wire orders by phone, makes gift baskets, has balloons and plants and sells art by local artists. Ladybug Express delivers from New Castle to Parachute.
Mother's Day was the store's second busiest day last year, Llacuna added, with Christmas third and weddings also a big part of the store's business.
Opening the store in a down economy was a risk, Llacuna agreed.
"But we thought if we could make it in a down economy, things will get better," Llacuna said.
Restaurant ready for packed house
Sammy's on Park Avenue and Rifle Brewing Co. general manager Dan Currie said Valentine's Day is one of the restaurant's two busiest days, along with Mother's Day.
"I'm sure we'll have a pretty packed house," Currie said.
Sammy's, which will have been in business 16 years on March 13, will offer prime rib dinners, something it usually only has on Fridays and Saturdays, he added.
Currie said the recession hasn't seemed to affect business on holidays like Valentine's Day.
"I think people are still going out to eat, but they are just more selective," he added. "They're eating out on holidays like this, but maybe not as often overall."
"Huge" expectations for new business
Donna Roberts owns Zoe Life Soapworks at 228 Railroad Ave. The store's name comes from the Bible's Old Testament, Roberts said. It means "abundant life."
The store opened last June, so this is her first Valentine's Day in Rifle. Previously, Zoe Life operated for three years in a co-op in Carbondale. But since Roberts lives in Rifle, she relocated when the space on Railroad Avenue became available.
"Business has kind of been come and go," Roberts said. "Christmas was very busy, so my expectations for Valentine's Day are huge."
Zoe Life sells natural, homemade soaps, lotions, candles, bath salts and "anything for the body," Roberts said.
A certified soapmaker, she makes the soaps herself and also offers a line of natural cleaning products and art by local artists.
For today, Roberts offers special Valentine's gift baskets, along with curbside pickup for last minute orders placed ahead of time by phone.
"I'm hoping a lot of guys will come in or place an order," Roberts said. "I do have some regular men customers."
Roberts also offered 20 percent off to all male customers the week of Valentine's Day, plus 30 percent off all Valentine's line of products from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. today.
"I'm hoping the late bird will catch the big discounts," Roberts said.
Longtime floral store prepares for big day
Debbie Breece will have owned Busy Bee Floral, 409 W. Third St., for 16 years the day after Valentine's Day.
"It's usually our busiest holiday," Breece said. "We always end up doing everything in that one day."
Breece said she will have six delivery drivers, three designers and two people at the store's counter today.
"When it's on a Saturday or Sunday, we don't usually have a good day," she added of the years when Valentine's Day does not fall on a weekday. "People have time to do other things like go to dinner or a movie, something like that."
Mother's Day is usually the store's next busiest day, followed by Christmas, Breece said.
And the recent recession took a bite out of the flower shop's funeral business, she added.
"A lot of people will just cremate their loved ones instead of holding a funeral," Breece said. "Flowers are a luxury."
Breece noted the store's location has been the home of a flower shop, under several owners, for about 40 years.