Stores prepare for last-minute Valentine's Day shoppers

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Unlike Christmas, Valentine's Day does not have an ''eve'' to remind last-minute shoppers that the clock is ticking.

Some stores, however, cater to the 11th-hour romantics.

Aw Else Boutique in Greensburg, for example, scheduled an all-day ''Men's Night'' two days before Valentine's Day to help men avoid the Feb. 14 frenzy.

Plans called for offering free wings and beverages to customers while clerks assisted them in choosing clothing, furs, jewelry, purses, scarves, hats and more.

''Consider us personal shoppers,'' Danielle Shaffer, owner of the shop at 1020 Towne Square Drive, said.

With free gift wrap, the only thing men needed to bring was a Valentine's Day card.

For those who prefer to wait until the Valentine's Day crunch, many merchants are happy to lend Cupid a hand.

Greenfield Jewelers, 4233 Murray Ave., Greenfield, will stay open until 6 p.m. Friday. The store's specialty — diamond earrings — range in price from $200 to several thousand dollars.

Also popular is ''anything red," owner Mike Daily said, such as heart pendants with little diamonds that start at $99. ''There are lots of last-minute shoppers, and mostly men buying for women,'' he said.

Valentine's Day is one of the busiest days of the year at Joseph Thomas Flower Shop, 201 S. Main St., Greensburg, where customers can call before noon on Valentine's Day to ensure delivery.

The most popular item is red roses. A dozen roses arranged in a vase start at $70.

To accommodate last-minute shoppers, the store will likely remain open until 8 p.m.

"We have made customers and their ladies happy for the past 119 Valentine days,'' said Sue Thomas, who owns the shop with her husband Patrick Thomas, grandson of the shop's founder.

Divertido, 3609 Butler St., Lawrenceville, will be open until 6 p.m. Gift selections include jewelry, handbags, scarves, cards, glassware, wine carrier cases and artwork.

"Valentine's Day is a great day to acknowledge anyone in your life you really love, owner Mary Ellen Gubanic said. "I always thought it was about fun, and my gifts are all about fun.''

For couples who are looking for a romantic place to go, the modern stage production of "Romeo and Juliet," filmed live in November at New York's Richard Rodgers Theatre and starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad as Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers, will be shown Sunday at Wynnsong 12 in Delmont and Carmike Greensburg.

Margaret Smykla, freelance writer:

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