Valentine’s Day is Today, which means there’s typically a surge in demand for flowers and a local florist shared about how she prepares for the holiday. Belma Llorente is the owner of Belma’s Precious Flowers and Gifts in Kodiak. It’s a small shop with a few displays and a section in the back bursting with blooms.
She got her start learning how to arrange and order flowers from the island’s Safeway, but started her own business nearly 20 years ago.
“Honestly when I worked at Safeway, I don’t see any competition for Safeway, only Safeway is the florist and I said ‘Oh?’” she said.
Llorente says she didn’t just want to compete with the grocery giant, she also wanted to give folks a bigger variety of flowers to choose from.
“I think it’s nice that there is another choice for customers at the island also,” she said. “Just like, they could go here, they could go there, like they have choices for their own design also.”
But as one might expect, it can be difficult to source flowers in Alaska, especially in the winter. So Llorente works with other florists from across North America to ensure she has a fresh and varied stock. She generally places orders up to three months in advance to prepare for big holidays like Valentine’s Day.
“I have three different companies – I have one from Florida, and I have some that’s from around in Canada, and I have one in Anchorage,” she said.
Business has been good for Llorente, she sold out on Valentine’s Day last year, and between pre-orders and last minute customers, she expects to sell out again this year. She’s even had clientele from New York, California, and Texas order through her website.
But Llorente credits most of her success to local support.
“I love the island also, they support me,” she said. “There is a lot of like those Native corporations (and) other businesses local. They support me so I’m still here for 20 years.”
As for Llorente’s favorite flowers, she likes stargazers, lilies, and roses.