KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Valentine’s Day is synonymous with chocolate, candy, and all things “sweet.”
According to the National Retail Federation, those celebrating the holiday said they plan to spend an average $196.31. In total, spending nationally is expected to reach $27.4 billion.
For local businesses that create chocolate creations or baked goods, the holiday marks one of the busiest weeks of the year.
Take Bradley’s and The Knoxville Chocolate Company, a family-owned and operated chocolate store with locations in West and Downtown Knoxville. Joy and Brad Hamlett, the owners, are used to the Valentine’s Day rush that comes in the weeks before the holiday.
“As soon as we put the Christmas trees away, we start to make chocolate hearts and put together boxes, and make caramel chocolates, and potato chips, chocolate popcorn, for Valentine’s Day,” said Joy.
She joined husband Brad’s family business 20 years ago. It opened in 1995 as Bradley’s Chocolate, run by Brad and his father, Jim.
“[Brad] was like, ‘Hey I’d love for you to come and help me dip chocolate strawberries…’ We’ve been doing it ever since. I don’t think that I understood that every Valentine’s Day that I spent with him, we would be serving Knoxville all their chocolate,” said Joy.
Valentine’s Day by the numbers begins with chocolate-dipped strawberries: 25,000 hand-dipped berries sold within Valentine’s week.
“We have friends and family that have helped us for years that have come in every year faithfully to help us,” said Joy.
Add to that, thousands of bags of popcorn; thousands of Tennessee Walking Sticks (pretzel rods dipped in caramel, rolled in pecans, and covered in chocolate); thousands of filled chocolate hearts, and hundreds of boxes of chocolate.
Employees and family volunteers are working 12-14 hours a day to prepare the candy confections for the holiday. February 13, the day before Valentine’s, being the busiest.
VG’s Bakery on Valentine’s Rush
VG’s Bakery in Farragut is seeing a steady increase in the number of Valentine’s orders every year.
“Just, as an example, our heart cookies alone we made 100 just for today. That’s just one type of cookie for today, out of dozens,” said Katie Gwin, VG’s General Manager.
Gwin says on a typical day in the bakery, there would be 2-3 dozen of each of the cookie varieties they offer. For this holiday, it’s multiplied 5-6 times over.
“We take special orders so we kind of have an idea of what to expect based on the number of orders coming in. We work longer hours, and make way more than normal so we’re stocked up,” said Gwin.
VG’s Bakery is open on Valentine’s Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Bradley’s is open on Valentine’s Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Knoxville Chocolate Company, on Market Square, is open on Valentine’s Day 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
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