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Business is blooming

April 03, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION

The parking lot at Charles A. Gibney's Florist on Virginia Avenue was ablaze in color with rows of Easter flowers like hyacinths, gardenias, lillies, gerber daisies and tulips.

Owner Charles Gibney carefully lined up the pink, yellow, blue, white and red flowers, and the smell of freshly potted plants was putting everyone in the mood for gardening.

The only problem is that Roxie Linn couldn't decide what to take home with her.

"They all look so beautiful clustered together," she said.

The blue hyacinth finally won her heart.

"They're so sweet, you can't go wrong with them," said Linn.

The packed parking lot was typical Saturday as people crowded into stores and nurseries to get their Easter flowers and candy.

It's big business, particularly for the candy industry.

It is estimated that 60 million chocolate bunnies, 2 million marshmallow chicks and 15 billion jelly beans will be consumed today for the holiday, according to the National Retail Federation.

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No one had to convince Wal-Mart assistant manager Bonnie Nadeau of the numbers. She said sales in the food department, where the Easter candy was, increased 118 percent Friday.

Carmen Carpenter felt lucky to get what she could find in the Wal-Mart store on Wesel Boulevard.

She snapped up the last of the four-pack Cadbury's eggs, and was picking through a box of the single eggs to make a Easter basket for her son.

"If I didn't get Cadbury eggs in his basket, he would be really disappointed," said Carpenter.

A clerk at the Olympia Candy Kitchen in Chambersburg, Pa., was feeling a little giddy by the time the busy day came to an end. There was the traditional Easter eggs for sale, but then there were chocolates in the shape of cell phones, airplanes, shoes, angels and bears. "It just started to die down where we can see the store," she said.

Gibney said behind Valentine's Day, Easter is the busiest time for flower sales at his shop. Customers like the potted plants because they can stick them in the ground after the holiday and get a colorful jump on spring, he said.

Among the offerings at Gibney's were "hardy" azaleas, which can be planted outside. They are different from the "tender" azaleas typically sold during Valentine's Day, which usually cannot withstand winter weather in this area, said Gibney.

"Easter seems to be a potted plant holiday. Mother's Day seems to be a cut flower holiday," said Gibney, who has been selling flowers for 49 years.

By late afternoon Saturday, Potomac Farms Nursery along W.Va. 45 near Shepherdstown, W.Va., had sold out of the estimated 200 Easter flowers put out for sale. Many of the flowers were bought for Easter services today, said manager Chuck Kinsley.

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