They arrived in droves from Columbia, Ecuador and Holland last Thursday evening, and continued coming late Friday afternoon.
The imported roses bared colors ranging from red to pink to purple, brightening Long Beach floral shops just before Valentine’s Day.
Though it might surprise some people that Mother’s Day is the biggest floral-buying day of the year, on Valentine’s Day, the runner-up, nothing sells like roses.
"On Valentine's Day everybody is looking for a rose," said Christina Santos-Campbell, owner of Santos Floral Design at 128 E. Park Ave.
Santos ordered some 1,300 roses for the romantic holiday, a significant stretch from their weekly order of 75 to 100 roses. This year, Valentine’s Day orders went through the proverbial roof, requiring Santos to put in a last-minute order for 450 roses, which arrived just in time for Monday’s evening rush.
In addition to taking extensive flower orders, local floral shops extended their business hours, brought in extra delivery drivers, and called on family and friends to help out as orders flooded their phones last weekend and all day Monday.
"Valentine's Day is a man's holiday," Santos said. "Men are the majority ordering, and they wait until the last minute, so the day is hectic."
Patrick and Renee O'Neill, owners of Long Beach Florist, at 955 W. Beech St., order 500 roses a week. For Valentine's Day they upped their order to 4,000 and had to close their shop at 7:30 p.m. when a romantic purchased their last rose.
"It's always best to come and order early," O'Neill said. "Everyone wants flowers on Valentine's Day, and as the day wore down, rose selections were limited."
Ironically, several customers placed orders for flowers other than roses. Both shops reported an increase of lily, hydrangea and sunflower arrangements, and were thus reminded that the day is not just about romance.
"All flowers are beautiful, [and] though the rose stands for love, people have daughters, mothers, and friends that they like to send Valentine's arrangements other than roses to," O'Neill said.
As to those who didn’t make it to the floral shop in time, they had an unexpected alternative: a local gas station. Mobile On The Run, at 203 E. Park Ave., showcased an array of roses, leaving male motorists short on time and gas no excuse to go home empty handed.
"We have to have roses for the men," manager Cesar Rodriquez said. "We ordered a bunch and had them displayed in the front so they wouldn't forget."