Valentine's Day gives economic boost to a local business

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COLUMBIA - A single day in the middle of February can be equivalent to "Black Friday" for some downtown businesses. Valentine's Day for local candy and flower shops in downtown Columbia mean the stores get busier, the traffic gets heavier and the money comes rolling in.

According to the National Retail Federation, by the end of the day on Tuesday, Americans will spend $18.2 billion expressing their love, or an average of $136.57 per lover.

No doubt The Candy Factory in downtown Columbia reaps some of those benefits. Owner Mike Atkinson said they bring around 50-70 additional workers during Valentine's Day. 

"For specialty stores like The Candy Factory, Valentine's Day is a great economic boost. It gives people the chance to come in and see what we have. Our flagship product for Valentine's Day is our chocolate-covered strawberries," Atkinson said.

People were lined up out the doors for the Columbia-famous strawberries. Each had a different "Valentine" in mind.

Christian Ocampo was picking up strawberries for his mom.

"I always rush after work to come get some for her," Ocampo said.

While Rick Reed, who has been going to The Candy Factory for the past ten years, grabbed the chocolate-covered fruit for his girlfriend.

"I like the dark chocolate ones, and my girlfriend likes the white chocolate ones," Reed said.

First time strawberry-buyer Michael Bentele had his wife in mind when he stepped inside the shop.

"This is my first time buying strawberries. I think I've received some, but this is my first time buying them," Bentele said.

With so much talk about February 14, Atkinson said after the love-filled holiday, they will sell them for one more day and then give any extra strawberries to their neighbors and friends.