Late yesterday afternoon, 14th Street, Northwest, looked like the set of a rom-com movie: couples met outside of restaurants for dates, and people hustled past each other with balloons, candy, and flowers in-tow, eager to get home to whomever they were celebrating the holiday with.
The P Street Whole Foods was no exception to the madness, especially the floral aisle, which was packed with customers making last-minute purchases. People could either buy pre-made bouquets or stop by a floral stand set up just for the holiday, where they could assemble a collection of their choosing.
This year, the Amazon-owned chain had a special deal: Prime members were eligible to buy a dozen roses—certified by the company’s fair-trade program—for $19.99 ($24.99 for non-members) at their local stores. Yet the majority of flower-purchasers I spoke with weren’t aware of the deal at all, and had opted to go their own route when it came to the final decision. This also may be because the store ran out of red roses in early, according to one of the staff members. “It’s Valentine’s Day,” she said before wrapping another bouquet and handing it into the crowd.
Except for one woman I spoke with, the customers dashing into the store to grab flowers were men who all seemed like they were in need of a last-minute Valentine’s gesture. (Not to posit gender stereotypes here, but maybe it’s because they had procrastinated?) While most didn’t seem to have a concrete method when it came to buying their flowers (they just went off color and basic aesthetics), many did forgo what they called “stereotypical roses” for more unique flowers, often opting for locally-sourced options, as well.
Herewith, a field journal of gallants encountered in the wild:
Andrew Maisel, buying flowers for his wife of two-and-a-half years.
Do you buy her flowers every year on Valentine’s Day? “Uh, yeah, I think so.”
How did you pick these out? “I used to work at a flower shop, and the person who worked there said never do roses and don’t even think about carnations. Plus, I liked the yellow and blue.”
Jack, buying flowers for his wife of two years.
Did you buy her flowers last year? “I buy her Valentine’s Day flowers every year.”
Did you think about buying the Amazon Prime roses deal? “No. These are actually tulips, but they’re pretty much the same flower, right?”
Jordan Chivel, buying flowers for a “girl I am kind of dating.”
Are you going to ask her to be your official girlfriend? “Not today.”
Did you know about the Amazon Prime deal? “I did not. I live a block away and needed stuff for dinner and knew they’d have flowers.”
How are you celebrating? “Making dinner tonight.”
What are you cooking? “It’s kind of complicated… a lot of things.”
Nabil Mohammed, buying flowers for his wife of 10 years (and a bottle of red wine).
Do you buy her flowers every year? “I suppose, if we’re not traveling.”
How did you pick these flowers out? “I just know her taste, and I look for the colors she likes and [flowers] that are seasonal. So I had to pick three kinds, and [the florists] helped me make them look good.”
Dan (no last name given), buying flowers for his wife of one-and-a-half years.
Do you buy her flowers every year? “Not necessarily. This is our first Valentine’s Day that we’ve been married and living in the US.”
How did you pick these flowers? “I don’t know. I was looking for something like lilacs, so blue or white, and this is what they had. I didn’t know about the Amazon Prime deal—there weren’t any roses left.”
Will McCarry, buying flowers for his girlfriend of almost three years.
Do you buy her flowers every year? “She always says she doesn’t want flowers, but when I don’t get them she’s like ‘What? You didn’t get me flowers?’”
How did you pick these flowers? “I liked that they were local, or presumably so. They’re white tulips [from Virginia].”
Steve Krehbiel, buying flowers for his fiancée of two weeks, whom he’ll marry in the spring.
Do you buy her flowers every year? “I try to buy her flowers [regularly].”
How did you pick these flowers? “I just saw them and they looked nice. I think they’re daisies.” (Krehbiel was also very proud that he picked these out without help from the floral team, as “they looked busy.”)
Andrew Durham, buying flowers for his girlfriend of over six months.
How did you pick these flowers? “It was last minute. I liked the colors, they’re different than the last flowers I got her, and they looked fairly healthy.”
What were the last flowers you purchased? “I got her roses and lilies for our six-month anniversary.”
How are you going to celebrate tonight? “I’m going to cook. I’m making steaks.”
Victoria Butler, buying flowers for her mother.
Do you always buy your mom Valentine’s flowers? “I buy her flowers every year. My mom really loves flowers, and she’s always planting flowers and out in the yard.”
How did you pick these flowers? “I came in with the intention of buying roses, but then I saw someone else with these daisies and had to get them.”
How are you going to celebrate tonight? “I’m going to go over to my mom’s and give her treats—flowers, balloons, and candy.”