Mark Ellis has been the middleman in making women happy on Valentine’s Day for 33 years.
Valentine’s Day marks the busiest day of the year for Ellis, owner of Four Seasons Floral, 1218 S. Mission St. The store sells more than 2,000 roses for the week of Valentine’s Day, compared to the usual 200 roses a week. Much preparation goes into making it a success, he said.
“We try to come up with special arrangements that we anticipate that will fit price-points and that everybody will like,” he said. “You can’t put red roses in everything, because you can’t get that many red roses.”
Most of the flowers come from Colombia and Ecuador. They are hand-picked by Ellis and arranged into different assortments.
“This is our second Valentine’s Day here in this location, and we do more business than the store in Shepherd,” he said. “There’s a much bigger market here. For every college student, there’s a professor, who has a wife, who has a secretary. They all get flowers.”
He said about half of the people coming in are college students on Valentine’s Day, mostly men.
“I like getting my girlfriend flowers,” Rochester junior Cody Wilson said. “I think I’d rather write her something than just get her flowers, but I get her flowers every couple of weeks to feel loved and special.”
Wilson said he usually gets her red roses.
St. John senior Amanda Lesch said getting roses from her boyfriend always puts a smile on her face.
“I love the smell,” she said. ”It makes me feel special.”
After 35 years of marriage to his wife, Terri, Ellis knows a thing or two about how to make Valentine’s Day special.
“I actually bought her flowers twice in my life before I became a florist,” he said. “I bought her tulips, because that’s the only thing I could get with $4 in my pocket.”
Ellis said he also bought her a dozen red roses while in high school, and they were delivered to her at 8 p.m. on Valentine’s Day.
He said there is no secret to making a love last a lifetime.
“We just are nice to each other,” he said. “It’s not much more complicated than that.”
Ellis attended Michigan State University and received a degree in horticulture because of his love for flowers and plants.
At 20 years old, Ellis was married to his wife and had a foot in the door in the flower industry. After working at a small flower shop in East Lansing for two years, he decided he could do it better himself.
He and his wife moved to Mount Pleasant and retrofitted the back of a Hallmark into a flower shop.
“My newborn son, Brad, was in the crib in the back room,” he said. “It was just me, my wife and son.”
He said his business allows him to get to know people pretty well.
“One of the coolest customers I’ve had was a young man who didn’t speak English,” he said.
He wanted flowers for his girlfriend. Not just any flowers but the perfect flowers, Ellis said. Through a period of two years, he came in and bought flowers and finally learned English. Once they could communicate, the young man told Ellis that he helped him so much.
“He wanted me to help him make the girl he was in love with happy by giving her flowers,” he said.
Ellis said Valentine’s Day is extremely busy, but he likes the challenge.
“I work well in chaos,” he said. ”It’s worth it.”