Gidas Flowers serves local lovebirds on Valentine’s Day


John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer

The sign for Gidas Flower Shop on Forbes Avenue.

By Kendall Swift, Staff Writer

When Kylie Bucher went to Gidas Flowers in search of last-minute Valentine’s Day flowers, she was impressed by the shop’s wide, even “overwhelming” selection of flowers and plants, with prices ranging from $5.50 to almost $600. It was her first time shopping at the store.

“I’m single this year, so I just wanted to get flowers for myself,” Bucher, a sophomore psychology major, said.

On Valentine’s Day and the days leading up to it, many students and community members came to the shop for the perfect gift — whether it be for partners, friends or themselves. Valentine’s Day is a popular time of year for the shop, according to manager Jason Gidas. 

In preparation for the holiday, the Forbes Avenue shop extended its hours on Saturday and Monday to 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., respectively. They also opened on Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. — a day they are usually closed.

Ben Gradeck, a repeat customer and first-year computer science student, said he enjoys the store’s variety and proximity to campus. He went to buy flowers for his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day, and said he likes the variety of plants and flowers.

Gradeck said he enjoys buying plants from the shop, rather than flowers, because they can continue to grow.

“[The selection is] really nice, especially this time of year, because it’s all like orchids,” Gradeck said.

This year was particularly successful, according to Gidas, because the holiday fell on a Monday. He said the shop does best when the holiday falls on a Monday or a Friday, compared to a weekend, since more people are at work and on campus. Since the shop is located in the heart of Central Oakland, it is a popular spot for individuals who work or study in the neighborhood to shop throughout the week.

The shop also offered a delivery option to customers with orders valued over $60. This is a popular option for buyers who want to surprise the recipient by having flowers delivered to their work or home.

Although delivery is offered year-round, there are not enough drivers to support the high volume of deliveries completed during the holidays, Gidas said. To supplement existing staff, the shop hires temporary workers to complete deliveries on holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Christmas.

Pitt students often take advantage of this opportunity. Gidas said the seasonal job was so popular this Valentine’s Day that some applicants even had to be turned away.

“[Delivering is] a great way for us to advertise and get our name out there,” Gidas said, “Students usually love to help.”

Gidas said sales on Feb. 13 were lower this year because of the Super Bowl, with the most devoted football fans likely busy watching the game the day before Valentine’s Day.

“Normally, the day before the holiday is much more busy than it was this year, but we planned for it and understood [the Super Bowl] was happening,” Gidas said.

Gidas said the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t influence this year’s sales much, although they did feel the impact early on. Like many businesses, he said they had to close for a four- to five-week period starting in March 2020. Even when they reopened, business was slower than usual because customers were inclined to stay home.

While they lost some business from the lack of foot traffic, Gidas said they were still able to rely on delivery services.

“It impacted the retail end of our business, where customers [were] walking in and purchasing flowers. But the nice part about our business is that we are able to deliver as well,” Gidas said. “So while people were stuck at home, people were still ordering flowers and having them delivered.”

Since then, Gidas said normal business has resumed. He said since customers have the option for both walk-in service, pickup and delivery, there was no pandemic-related impact on 2022 holiday sales.

“COVID did not have much of an effect on [sales on] Valentine’s Day even last year, or this year,” Gidas said.

Overall, he said the shop received plenty of customers over the weekend and on Monday.

“It was a good holiday,” Gidas said. “It was very, very busy.”