Articles by Jim Gainan

As published in the Billings Gazette

'It's for the guy sitting at work and realizes it's Valentine's Day'

By CHELSEA KROTZER Of The Gazette Staff | Posted: Sunday, February 13, 2011 8:00 pm

Rose McCollum's job is to keep people happy. Her goal is for the wives of Billings to be pleasantly surprised on Valentine's Day, and for the husbands to avoid spending the holiday sleeping on the couch.

"At least we try," McCollum said, laughing as she added some greenery to a bouquet of roses Sunday afternoon.

McCollum is one of 17 designers at Gainan's Flowers and Garden Center. She spent most of her weekend creating some 2,500 bouquets to be delivered throughout Billings on Monday. 

That's 1,200 percent more business than a normal business day at any of the three Gainan's locations.

It's a process that has been months in the making. Valentine's Day is a florist's busiest time of the year — followed only by Mother's Day and then the holiday season from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

Jim Gainan of Gainan's Flowers and Garden said they have 60 years of Valentine's Days to learn from, and have the preparation down to a science.

It also doesn't hurt to have the extra help. This year, in addition to the 10 company delivery vans and 35 contracted vehicles, the shop has volunteers from the Billings Heights Lions Club, bringing the delivery power to somewhere around 60 vehicles.

"They are sending an army of volunteers and that way we can offer express delivery tomorrow for when people call in," Gainan said.

The volunteers are part of a fundraiser through the Lion's Club. Express delivery fees will go to the club.

"They are going to make thousands tomorrow," Gainan said. "We just can't do it alone."

Anyone wanting a bouquet delivered before 5 p.m. Monday will have to place their order by noon. If not, they will have to pick up the flowers on their own.

The downtown store is the center for Valentine's Day preparation. Designers have worked around the clock since Thursday filling orders. McCollum said they won't go home until the job is done.

"If we get done, we could go home early," she said. "But there are some years I've stayed as late as 2 or 3 a.m."

They put in the extra work for those customers who choose to procrastinate — or just plain forget.

"It's for the guy sitting at work and realizes it's Valentine's Day," Gainan said. "He can still get it to his wife on time."

To keep up with the demand, the designers create back-up bouquets along with the hundreds of custom orders they have already received.

The two work areas are filled to the brim with pink, red and white bows, ribbons, hundreds of helium balloons, vases, greenery, roses, lilies and carnations. As soon as the designer finishes a piece, it is wrapped and placed on its designated cart for delivery.

Each cart holds about 20 bouquets — enough to fill a van. Some of the first deliveries are slated for before 8 a.m. Monday.

"I am personally set to deliver to customer's homes before 8 a.m. to surprise their wives before they take their kids to school," Gainan said. "These guys are really getting into it this year."