HARRISBURG – It's early afternoon the day before Valentine's Day, and Pickford's Flowers and Gifts is seeing a constant stream of customers – mostly men.
After he and the flower shop workers whittle the line of customers down, owner Wayman Winters says he has a couple of spare minutes.
"This is first break we've had in a while," he says, smiling.
About a minute into the interview, the sound of the door opening means he's back to work.
For those wondering – yes, Valentine's Day is the busiest day for a florist, Winters said.
"We start at 7 a.m., and we're delivering all day, until 10 or 11 at night," he said. "Probably closer to 10, just because it gets really hard to see house numbers in the dark."
Winters said he worked at Pickford's for about 25 years before he bought it from previous owner Judy Winkeler, who also is behind the counter helping. Actually, she's not just behind the counter. She's also on the cordless phone, describing arrangements to callers as she makes her way around the storefront. Next she's bringing fresh flowers out of the cooler. Then, she's taking care of a customer's purchase.
Meanwhile, Winters begins an arrangement. Working rapidly, he places different flowers in a large vase. With each rose that goes in the arrangement, a flick of the wrist and a flash of a blade swiftly slices off excess branches and – more importantly – thorns.
"Ladies don't like thorns," he says, and suddenly the arrangement is finished – a work of art that minutes earlier was an empty vase and seemingly random flowers.
The Valentine's Day rush begins for Pickford's about a week prior to the holiday, he said.
"That's when we get started on it," he said.
Then he grins.
"Most guys pretty much start the day before."
Next to Valentine's Day, the two other really busy times of the year are the days leading up to the Christmas holiday and Mother's Day, Winters said.
For now, though, it's time for Valentine's Day, and that means roses – roses beyond quantification.
"Hundreds of roses," he says. "That's all I can tell you – hundreds of roses."