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French Version

Mother's Day sees florists' business skyrocket

Since Lebanon celebrates Mother's Day on the first day of spring, it is fitting that flower sales throughout Beirut sky-rocketed on Tuesday. Large country-wide chains and neighborhood florists alike said they did the best business of the year, with the number of customers surpassing even Valentine's Day.

"All this year we didn't do any business, even on Valentine's Day it was khalas," Souraya Jbak the owner of Achrafieh shop Fleuriste told The Daily Star, as her rambunctious little boy fidgeted impatiently nearby.

Jbak hasn't tabulated Tuesday's figures yet, but she estimates that at least 50 bouquets were purchased, ranging in price from LL20,000 to LL40,000, to a mostly female clientele buying for their mothers or grandmothers.

"Men usually don't come here at all," she quipped when asked if any men were among Tuesday's customers, but other store-owners said a few men had come in later in the evening to buy last minute gifts for their mothers or wives.

Henry M. Raffoul, the owner of the Flora 2000 store near USJ, said his morning sales were normal, but picked up when classes let out and students came to buy arrangements for their parents.

Rumors of rampant price-gouging were dismissed by most florists who insisted that they maintained normal rates despite the increased demand, although two florists in Gemmayzeh did confess to raising their prices on condition of anonymity.

One of the store-owners admitted that she had sold about 65 percent of her stock Tuesday, despite doubling her prices.

The Verdun and Achrafieh branches of Exotica reported booming sales, and one employee from the Independence Street location said that they were almost cleaned out of their stock by 6 or 7 p.m.

"We had about 500 or 600 customers, and 400 deliveries at our store alone," Achrafieh sales-representative Mireille said. "Cut bouquets were a huge hit yesterday, and a lot of people bought Hydrangeas too."

All the florists said that sales reach their highest levels on Mother's Day. Though Valentine's Day usually ranks a close second, this year demand was low since the holiday fell on the first anniversary of Hariri's assassination.

The manager of Gouraud Street shop Fleurs de la Passion, Amanda, said that the market for cut flowers and bouquets on Mother's Day is almost five times the usual level. On a regular day she sells up to 20 arrangements, compared to the 80 to 100 bouquets of all price ranges on Tuesday.

"Valentine's Day is a Western holiday, but Mother's day is important everywhere," she said.

Though the origin and date of Mother's Day differs according to the country, flowers are a global symbol of the holiday.

Beirut 27-03-2006
Lysandra Ohrstrom
The Daily Star

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