In the world of floristry, Valentine’s Day could be considered the main event.
“We joke that it’s the Super Bowl of flowers,” said Federal Way Buds and Blooms owner Carla Kostresh on Feb. 14. “It’s our single biggest day, as far as ordering.”
Around the early afternoon on Valentine’s Day, customers frequented the local flower shop at 33525 Pacific Highway South. The customers at that hour, nearly all men, wandered the store browsing the colorful bouquets until landing on the perfect choice of florals. Others went straight to the counter to pick up their orders, often accompanied by shiny balloons, chocolates and festive cellophane.
“There’s not really a non-emotional reason to give flowers,” said Kostresh, who has been a florist for 20 years. “It’s an emotionally charged job. It’s part of peoples’ big experiences … people remember what they get for Valentine’s Day and remember what they get for their birthdays. It’s a big responsibility.”
Since 1975, Federal Way Buds and Blooms has been a staple for the community’s floral needs.
Carla Kostresh started her career at a small flower shop in Salt Lake City, Utah. Later, she spent 10 years working for Buds and Blooms, managing different locations in Maple Valley, Tacoma and Federal Way.
Last year, she and her husband, Stephen Kostresh, had the opportunity to purchase the Federal Way location. They sealed the deal and took over as owners on April 1, 2022.
“This is our first Valentine’s Day as owners,” she said.
Much like any well-deserving football team who makes it to the Super Bowl, Buds and Blooms spends months preparing for the big day.
Vases are ordered in the summertime. Preparations begin in December. The week of the holiday, the flower order is approximately 10 times the amount of a regular week’s order, Kostresh said.
Planning also requires the shop to coordinate which flowers are blooming, what flowers need to be preserved in the coolers and where to find the space to hold all of the orders.
On the night before Valentine’s Day, Kostresh and the staff were preparing orders until after 10 p.m. In total, there are about 500 orders for Valentine’s Day, many of which are picked up the day before on Feb. 13.
The shop caps Valentine’s day-of delivery capacity at 200 orders — however, dozens of customers can still walk in to select beautiful pre-made arrangements.
The most sought-after flower for the holiday? Roses, of course, Kostresh said.
“I think people have moved away from the traditional dozen roses and more toward mixes with roses or different colors of roses,” she said. “But, I get more [orders of] red roses than anything else.”
Buds and Blooms in Federal Way is operated by the two Kostresh owners and six employees (two delivery drivers and four designers). For the holiday, about four additional drivers are hired to help assist with deliveries.
On Tuesday, Feb. 14, there were many school deliveries lined up, Kostresh said. But snowfall on Monday evening led to icy road conditions, and the Federal Way Public Schools district closed all schools on Valentine’s Day.
“We were having to reschedule them, send them to homes and [the orders] were already en route,” she said. “It’s tricky … it’s complicated, but it’s fun.”
Mother’s Day is another major holiday for floral deliveries, but Kostresh said those flower orders tend to be drawn out over the entire week, whereas Valentine’s Day requires much planning and preparation for the single 24-hour holiday.
Behind the counter at the store, tall metal shelves hold dozens of orders awaiting to be delivered to the soon-to-be admirers. Employees worked happily de-thorning roses and arranging stems in vases with artistic flair.
“It’s never boring, it’s always exciting,” said employee Brianna Sterling. “It’s a little bit of artistry, but also craft. You have to have kind of an eye for design, of course, but there’s a skill set in it. … I like the emotional exchange with the customers, as well as getting to make something beautiful that’s temporary.”
Sterling, who previously worked in Los Angeles in event floristry and took time off to begin a family, began working at the Federal Way shop in 2021. She also began her career as a florist at the same little flower shop in Salt Lake City where Carla Kostresh had started 10 years prior, although the two had never met until they met in Federal Way.
Sterling said there’s also an element of instant gratification after handing over the hand-crafted bouquet to a happy customer. And like any football team, half of the success is in part thanks to a loving, supportive fan base.
“They (the customers) are wildly loyal to us because of Carla. She goes above and beyond for her customers and they trust us,” Sterling said.
Federal Way Buds and Blooms is one of the few flower shops in Federal Way. Additional florists include Flowers by Chi (1748 S. 312th St.) and Expresalo Con Detalles (1500 S. 336th St.)
To order from Federal Way Buds and Blooms, visit www.federalwaybudsandblooms.com.