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Boom or Bust?

Photo: Keith Burbank

Lisa Krylov, owner of Not Just Flowers, is expecting Valentine’s Day to bolsters sales this year, although not everybody seems to be of the same opinion in the neighborhood.

Local Shops Have Mixed Reactions to Feb. 14

By Keith Burbank

Castro merchants as a whole are expecting Valentine’s Day to be a boost to sales, though not as much as Christmas. Some merchants expect a big sales increase, while others said they might see a slight boost or nothing at all.

For us it’s our biggest day of the year by far,” said Lisa Krylov, owner of Not Just Flowers, located at 18th and Castro streets. Krylov said the sheer volume of roses she sees during the holiday makes her not want to see another red rose for a month.

We go through thousands of roses.”

The holiday requires her to bring in lots of extra help to clean and prep flowers and make deliveries. Krylov also said she thinks the holiday is a boost to the local economy. “They celebrate. They go out. They have fun,” Krylov said. “People are in costume. … You feel the energy.”

Santos Euan, owner of Five Star Truffles on 18th Street, said he also thinks the holiday is a boost to the local economy but not as much as Christmas. Mother’s Day brings a boost too, he said. Euan’s shop has been in the Castro for about two years but has been in business for six years. Before moving to the Castro, the coffee and truffle shop was on Oak Street near Divisadero Street.

We definitely have a lot more business,” said Dave McMahon, visual merchandiser at Body, located at 450 Castro St. Body carries men’s underwear, said Walter Mangandi, the floor supervisor. As Victoria’s Secret gets a lot of business this time of year, so does Body, Mangandi said.

But Mike Josepher, owner of 25-year-old Photoworks at Church and Market streets, said he’s never noticed the holiday to be a big deal for his business. He said he has tried some promotions. “It just pales after the Christmas and New Year’s onslaught,” he said. “Everybody’s getting ready for summer.” Jospeher said Photoworks is “rampaged” at Christmas, while “a few things trickle in” for Valentine’s Day.

At Cheaters Too optical shop nothing changes for the Valentine’s Day holiday, the staff person said. He said he was sure Walgreens sold lots of extra cards and candy.

To a degree Gabriel Yanez agreed. He said most people give chocolates and flowers, but as the co-owner of the suiGeneris men’s designer consignment shop, he said his store does see an increase in the sale of accessories, such as bow ties and pocket squares. Yanez said a local designer makes ties for Valentines Day with fabrics from Liberty of London, adding that the designer made ties for Gay Pride as well.

As a retail store, it is a holiday that helps keep sales up in a normally low period, said Terry Asten Bennett, manager of Cliff’s Variety store on Castro Street. “Unlike, Christmas or Halloween, our Valentine’s Day sales are typically lower dollar transactions. Valentine’s Day has been a great kick off point for sales that are more significantly boosted by Bear Weekend,” she said.

Imad Bitar, owner of four stores in the Castro, including Puff ‘n Stuff, said he also sees lower dollar transactions. The holiday is not a major thing for his store with people typically buying gifts under $10. If the holiday falls on a weekend, he said, sales are better.

Jose Macias, supervisor at Diesel near Castro Station, commented that sales are good, but Diesel likewise sells smaller items. Sales tend to pick up around the Gay Pride celebration, he said.

I think it is an extension of the holiday season, said Matt Brouwer,” salesperson at A&G Merch. “You want to show your love and affection to the people in your life. … In terms of business, it’s great.”

We get a lot of people on dates in here,” said a bartender at Lucky 13, who did not want to use his name. He said he didn’t think Valentines Day affects Lucky 13 that much.

But barber Luis Felix at Louie’s Barber Shop, 422 Castro Street, said that the shop does better during holidays. Owner Don Forfang added that most people are buying meals, flowers and candy.

Crystal Hernandez, a server at Sparky’s 24-Hour Diner, Church Street, said residents are celebrating on Valentine’s Day. “It’s almost like any other holiday in the Castro.”