Moments Flower Shop owner and florist Jeanette Melita is anticipating a busy Valentine's Day weekend at her shop, which is located at 575 Monterey Street in Hollister. (Juan Reyes/Free Lance)

Moments Flower Shop owner and florist Jeanette Melita has been getting prepared for what she hopes will be a busy Valentine’s Day weekend. That usually means orders for flower arrangements should start pouring in within the next couple of days.

But during these strange times, it’s still difficult to pin-point exactly when she’ll start getting flooded with those phone calls and messages. 

“It’s hard because men are so last minute,” Melita said with a chuckle. “I want to say come Saturday, Sunday we’re going to be… It’s so hard to say right now because of Covid.”

Another concern she has is that Super Bowl LVI is taking place on the same weekend as Valentine’s Day. That’s all thanks to the NFL extending its regular season from 17 to 18 weeks.

She’s worried people will be focused on the game rather than placing orders with less than a week to go for Valentine’s Day.

It’s not just the lack of orders. The shelf life isn’t very long and the cost of flowers along with hard goods such as balloons, candies and plush dolls has gone up by at least 35% because of the pandemic. 

According to CBS News, flower prices have risen because some producers have shut down. The report said that it has forced New York City florist Banchet Jaigla to raise prices by about 20 percent.

The upside for Melita is that most of her flowers don’t hit the cooler like some of the bigger retail stores. She’s built strong relationships with local ranchers and she receives flowers freshly cut, which could last a little longer to display. 

“I am a little scared but I think God’s going to bless us,” she said. “You gotta have faith that at the end of the day you’re doing this for a reason.” 

The 43-year old San Jose native moved to San Benito County a little more than 15 years ago.

She spent 10 years as a cake decorator at longtime Bay Area grocery chain PW Supermarket, which abruptly closed in 2010, and five years at Nob Hill in Hollister.

Melita left the bakery department and ventured off into making floral arrangements, which quickly became a passion for her.

“I guess I just have some art in me somewhere,” she said. 

In 2018, she opened Moments Flower Shop at 731 San Benito Street in between Bella Mia Salon and AJ Sushi Restaurant. But she had to downsize because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the overhead cost was expensive. 

Melita packed up and moved her operations to a more manageable location at 575 Monterey Street. It was still a difficult time for business, especially with new Covid-19 variants popping up. 

After the Covid restrictions were lifted, Melita stayed open for six months and she was figuring out a plan to keep her shop open. 

She returned to work in the evenings at Nob Hill, while keeping her business open in the day to keep it afloat. Melita left her side job two months ago in hopes of business starting to pick up again.

“It’s hard to own a small business during this time because the big corporations, I feel like they’re bringing [in the business] and we’re just trying to stay above water,” Melita said.

Another challenge is that although Hollister is growing by the day, she believes that local residents still tend to shop outside of the city.

“I feel like that’s been the most difficult [part], I think,” Melita said. 

The great news for Melita is that Valentine’s Day is one of two holidays—Mother’s Day being the other—that becomes the busiest time for her.

Valentine’s Day spending is expected to reach $23.9 billion this year, up from $21.8 billion in 2021 and the second-highest year on record, according to the annual survey released Jan. 31 by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics.

According to the survey, shoppers expect to spend an average of $175.41 per person on Valentine’s Day gifts, up from $164.76 in 2021. 

The sales Melita makes from Valentine’s and Mother’s days helps out tremendously. But as odd as it sounds, she admits doing this line of work because it really puts smiles on people’s faces.

“You don’t own a flower shop to become rich, you own it because it fulfills a certain purpose,” Melita said. “It’s a passion and you don’t want to give up on your dream.”

And despite all adversity she’s had to overcome, Melita said she wants to be on this wild ride until the wheels fall off.

“You stick it out until you can’t do it anymore,” she said. “I’m not there yet.”

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