Post Your Problems / Lawrence Walsh: Olympics offer sweet gift ideas for your sweetie, but beware

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OK procrastinators, your problem is that you’ve waited until the last minute — again — to get that someone special something special for Valentine’s Day. You still have time — but not much — to come up with something unusual for the heart holiday.

But what?

If your special someone might appreciate a souvenir from the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, it can be purchased from thousands of outlets. But there’s a caveat that accompanies some of those outlets.

“Counterfeit goods and outright scams are everywhere,” said the Better Business Bureau, which recently conducted an eBay search that turned up 5,693 items for “Sochi 2014.”

The bureau said many of the souvenirs were authentic resales, but others were fraudulent. It found everything from low-priced items to a $7,000 “Olympic Torch Sochi 2014.”

Ah yes, an Olympic torch. Just the thing to light up your love life.

One of those authentic resale items might be just the ticket to endearing yourself to that special someone, but the BBB recommends that you first familiarize yourself with Olympic branding, graphics and logos.

To avoid problems, go to the official Olympics website, sochi2014.com. If it opens in French or Russian, go to the left side and click on the small EN to switch to English. Then click on the word Shop on the top left side of the home page.

To check out a product offered elsewhere or report counterfeit merchandise, the bureau said to hover over the small plus sign in the upper right corner and click on Authentication.

U.S. and Canadian team merchandise can be found at teamusa.org and Olympic.ca.

Be aware that most collectible merchandise is manufactured in large quantities and rarely rises in value, the bureau said. “If you want to purchase a limited edition memento, check to see just how limited it is before making a decision.”

Since the souvenir won’t arrive in time for Valentine’s Day, take a photo of it for a personal show and tell.

And there’s still time to buy a card, candy and flowers.

Greeting cards will be the most popular way of expressing affection on Valentine’s Day this year, according to information gathered by CardHub.com. Next in popularity are candy, flowers, an evening out, jewelry, clothing and gift cards.

Here are a few heart holiday numbers:

♥  1868, the year Richard Cadbury introduced the box of chocolates.

♥ 1913, the year Hallmark first offered Valentine’s Day cards.

♥ 1,200,  the types of Valentine’s Day cards Hallmark is marketing this year, a 14 percent decrease from last year.

♥  142 million, the number of Valentine’s Day cards exchanged each year. It’s the second largest greeting card event of the year. Christmas is the largest.

And there may be some surprises in these numbers:

♥ 45 percent of men believe flowers are an adequate Valentine’s Day present;

♥ 4 percent of women agree.

♥ 64 percent of men buy flowers for Valentine’s Day.

♥ 36 percent of women buy flowers.

♥ 224 million, the estimated number of roses grown for Valentine’s Day.

♥ 20 percent, the amount, based on supply and demand, that the price of roses tends to increase around Valentine’s Day.

What about jewelry, a trip to the spa and sporting events?

♥ 33 percent of women want jewelry.

♥ 40 percent of women want a day at a spa.

♥ 20 percent of men want tickets to a sporting event.

And some numbers for those looking for love:

♥ 112  is the number single men in their 20s for every 100 women of the same age.

♥ 49 is the number of single men 65 or older for every 100 single women of the same age.

♥ 393  is the number of dating services nationwide.

Liana  Arnold, CardHub’s communications director, said the information cited above came from the company’s analysis, the National Retail Federation, Hallmark, OpenTable.com, American Express and news reports.

Heart Savers

Several dozen men and women last week prepared themselves to give the ultimate Valentine’s Day gift whenever it’s needed by completing free, two-hour Friends and Family CPR and AED classes at West Penn Hospital.

Allegheny Health Network’s STAR Center, in cooperation with the EMS Training and Coordination Office, offers the Heart Savers classes once a year around Valentine’s Day.

But you don’t have to wait until next year to learn how to properly administer the life-saving procedures. The Red Cross offers cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillator classes year-round.

For more information, go to www.redcross.org.


Lawrence Walsh can be reached at pyp@post-gazette.com and 412-263-1488. Please include your day, evening and cell phone numbers. Due to volume, he cannot respond to every email or phone call. First Published February 13, 2014 12:00 AM

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