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February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day gives local shops a bump in business

GLOUCESTER — The mad dash to scoop up Valentine’s flowers, chocolates and teddy bears kept Cape Ann businesses bustling Wednesday, and the last-minute treat buying and fancy dining should continue today.

A chocolate store in downtown Gloucester flooded with customers around noon Tuesday. Though many might expect a crowd of men escaping the looming doghouse, Turtle Alley was an almost even mixture of men and women, and owner Hallie Baker said that is the norm.

”It’s not all men on Valentine’s Day,” Baker said. She stood funneling chocolate over caramel and nuts, creating the store’s namesake turtles. Nearly a dozen employees, a third more than usual, whirled around behind the counter, grabbing heart decorated ribbons, pulling trays of treats, and placing chocolates into boxes.

The store is celebrating their first Valentine’s Day in the new Rogers Street location since their move from Washington Street last year and the business is soaring in comparison, Baker said, the work day lunch hour being an especially popular time to visit. The big bump in business is countered only by the largest valentine in town, featured in the store, a heart shaped box containing four pounds of chocolate.

”We used to have the doghouse valentine, but this thing is so huge we had to give it a new name,” Baker said, gesturing to the “Get out of jail free” valentines.

Across town at Audrey’s Flower Shop, employees have been waking and smelling the roses for days now, to the point where they hardly notice the fragrance anymore. The store’s cooler is filled with bouquets completed and two designers have been working nearly around the clock, clipping stems, and arranging roses, carnations and lilies then adding in fun feathers and sparkly wires as popping details.

”We’re just here non-stop,” said store manager DeeDee Noble. “We just keep moving.”

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