Tradition rules in gifts for Valentine's Day

Sweethearts appreciate even last-minute presents

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Even shoppers who waited until the last minute -- typically men -- are likely to still be able to find a perfect Valentine's Day gift today for their special someone.

Last week, a man paid for highlights and haircuts for his wife and daughter as Valentine gifts at Salon Louie, owner Lou Scuilli said.

But more common at the Greenfield shop are harried men coming in to buy gift certificates on Valentine's Day.

A theory Mr. Scuilli adheres to is that while Christmas shopping cues include weeks of holiday music and celebration planning, Valentine's Day pops up in mid-February with much less fanfare.

"Men tend to stop in, while women will call in advance," said Yvonne James, owner of James Flower & Gift Shoppe in Wilkinsburg. The store offers cash-and-carry roses, chocolates, balloons, candies, stuffed animals and more for those who postpone their shopping until the day of the holiday.

At Penn Hills Lawn & Garden Center and Gift Shop, owner Jayme Visnesky observed another difference between male and female shoppers: Women are buying themed wreaths as gifts for themselves to decorate their homes in advance of the holiday and stuffed animals for their children. Men tend to defer their purchases until the zero hour and choose arrangements of artificial flowers with a gift card and fake love lottery ticket.

"I think it's a last-minute thing, so I expect this week to pick up," said Chris Angelucci, manager of Stone Villa Wine Cellars in Acme. His store offers ready-to-purchase Valentine's Day gift baskets that contain a picture frame, candy dish, trinkets and a wine of the buyer's choice. Wine labels that can be personalized also are available.

At Rose Style Shoppe in Latrobe, owner Ronda Goetz anticipates that last-minute customers will include both men and women, with the women shopping for a relative such as a mother or daughter.

"Today, people are showing and expressing their love for the people they care about," she said.

While jewelry and candy are big sellers, Ms. Goetz also expects men to stop in and ask her to select outfits for her regular female customers whose tastes she knows from decades on the job.

At Bloomin' Genius Exotic Flowers & Gifts in Greensburg, where Valentine's Day is second only to Mother's Day in volume of business, walk-ins may choose a same-day arrangement, such as roses in sweetheart vases, among other gifts.

To provide same-day deliveries, six drivers -- instead of the usual one -- will be available, manager Robin Garris said.

Even the Saint Vincent College bookstore in Unity is prepared for a rush today of cash-strapped students with a display of pink mugs and T-shirts, cards and candy, including chocolate and red heart lollipops.

At Beeghly & Company Jewelers in Greensburg, engagement rings are traditionally popular Valentine's Day purchases, second only to the Christmas season.

New this year are camouflage rings and hearts.

Co-owner Amy Beeghly said the store offered an incentive for couples to stop in early.

If the couple kiss under the kissing ball at the store, they are entered into a drawing to take place at 5 p.m. today for a pair of his or her diamond earrings.

Planning ahead can make for a not-to-be-forgotten Valentine's Day.

Joe Greubel, chairman of the board of Valley Dairy restaurants, decided weeks ago on the perfect gift for his wife of 50 years, Virginia: a sweetheart sundae at one of Valley Dairy's two sites in Latrobe.

"In the past, there were movies and flowers, and I always get her a card," he said. But the cold weather will prevent ice cream from melting, he said, "so I knew it was the time to take her for a sundae."

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Margaret Smykla, freelance writer:


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