Owner of Huff’s Flowers, Penny Cogdill, far right, instructs volunteers Meg Earhart, center, and Linda Campbell, who assisted with the increase of orders leading up to Valentine’s Day in Lawrenceville on Thursday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
LAWRENCEVILLE — For a flower shop, Valentine’s Day is the Super Bowl. Christmas. Black Friday. It helps keep business blooming during long summers bereft of large-scale romantic occasions.
The prospect of being unprepared is enough to make a small business owner wilt.
Huff’s Flowers in downtown Lawrenceville faced such a predicament this week — when Winter Storm Pax brought snow and ice and snow again, seasonal helpers tapped out. They couldn’t make it in.
Out of their absence, though, sprouted a little goodwill. And a big sense of community.
“I just think it’s so neat,” manager Carolyn Stewart said.
When the storm really hit Wednesday, Huff’s owner Penny Cogdill made a few calls and posted on Facebook. With the help of realtor Linda Campbell, owners of several other businesses around the the Lawrenceville square were rounded up.
For two days, they’ve forsaken their own shops to cut roses, prepare simple arrangements and help fill Huff’s coolers.
“I kind of decided it wasn’t worth people’s effort to get to my shop, and I’d rather be helping Penny anyway,” Meg Earhart, owner of jewelry and gift shop Sparkle, said Thursday.
The assist has been vital, Stewart said.
Huff’s — voted Best of Gwinnett each of the last six years — receives about 90 percent of its pre-Valentine’s Day orders over the phone, so the weather hasn’t necessarily affected business. That said, they have to work ahead to fill orders and prepare for the day-of rush.
Without seasonal employees, Wednesday and Thursday could’ve been a disaster.
“It’s a blast,” said Bob Johnson, who owns nearby Block One Seventy Eight, a fine wine and craft beer shop. “The only problem is it’s mostly women, so I’m having a hard time.”
Earhart, who lives about two miles outside downtown Lawrenceville, made the trek by foot each day, bringing along a friend visiting from out of town. She’d never cut roses before, but said Cogdill was a good teacher and everything being done “is just beautiful.”
The camaraderie is born out of both friendship and a sense of responsibility.
“We’re all just trying to make the best of a tough situation for Penny and make it go well for her,” Earhart said. “That’s what’s important right now.”
“We all kind of get the fact that all of our survival is dependent on each other,” she added.