GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — The stereotypes are true. Many men do wait until the last minute to buy Valentine’s Day flowers, Galloway Florist & Gifts owner Kenny Marshall said.
Before he bought the floral shop on Sixth Avenue in 2007, he was one of them.
“I’m a last-minute person myself,” said Marshall, 52, of Galloway.
Marshall and his wife, Theresa, own Galloway Florist & Gifts, a business that has a long history in the area.
A U.S. Navy veteran who served from 1979 to 1983, Marshall has owned several other businesses. This first foray into the floral industry started when he was driving past the formerly named Godfrey Aschmann Florist that he would purchase.
“I was literally driving by and saw a for-sale sign. ... I was sort of in-between jobs,” he said.
Marshall bought the business — at first with the intention of running it as a garden and produce market — at a time that would turn out to be a tough one for retail and flowers, shortly before the recession took hold.
The floral industry took a big hit from the recession and its aftermath in New Jersey and the U.S. It has not yet recovered.
From 2007 to 2011, the number of florists in New Jersey dropped by nearly 29 percent, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns.
Annual payrolls fell even more — by about 46 percent, as fewer florists employed fewer people.
Marshall said the impacts were felt locally, too.
The economy cut into discretionary spending, and some of his clients who were casino workers and executives cut back their purchases, he said.
“Before you know it, it’s a domino effect,” he said.
Being in the business these days is “a matter of hanging in there,” he said.
“The place pays the bills. I make a little bit of money and basically put it back into the business,” he said.
Valentine’s Day is a huge time for florists as a whole, one of several holidays — including Easter, Mothers’ Day and Christmas — that can mean a flurry of flower buying for a short time.
The week leading up to Valentine’s Day, a sheet of his wholesale orders includes 800 red roses, 100 pink roses, 125 yellow roses, 100 white roses and an assortment of other flowers.
The average Valentine’s order he sees is about $75, he said.
At the business, Marshall answers the office phone. When he is out, he transfers calls to his cellphone, a sort of on-call florist.
Marshall said he does that for fear of losing customer calls in the early morning.
“Some people call first thing in the morning, and if they get an answering machine, they’re probably going to call someone else,” he said. “If I had missed that call, that’s one order I’m missing.”
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