Cupid will be working overtime this Valentine’s Day with the romantic holiday falling on a Saturday, giving Metro Detroit retailers, restaurants, grocers and specialty stores some inspiration for hot deals and heart-felt promotions.

Whether it is Detroit-centric clothing from Pure Detroit, heart-shaped steaks from Nino Salvaggio or silk boutonnieres from The Shirt Box in Farmington Hills, area shoppers will find a lots of creative ways to celebrate their love and spend a few bucks in the process.

According to the National Retail Federation’s Valentine’s Day Consumer Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, the average American celebrating Valentine’s Day will spend $142.31 on candy, flowers, apparel and more, up from $133.91 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $18.9 billion, a survey high, the Washington-based industry group said.

The Shirt Box is bringing in chocolates, brownies from Elwin and Company of Berkley and Champagne for the guys or gals who come in to do some Valentine’s Day shopping, said co-owner Rod Brown. He said the men’s apparel store expects to sell a lot of personal items, such as Saxx underwear and specialty belt buckles.

It is the men who come in who are getting ready for a big date – either with a new love interest or their wives – that are the most fun to prepare, Brown said.

“We’re stylists and therapists. We help guys get ready for job interviews, first dates, you name it,” Brown said.

While a little more than half of all Americans plan to buy candy for the sweet holiday, spending a total of $1.7 billion, one in five plans to buy jewelry for a total of $4.8 billion, the highest amount seen since NRF began tracking spending on Valentine’s gifts in 2010. Additionally 37.8 percent will buy flowers, spending a total of $2.1 billion, and more than one-third will spend on plans for a special night out, including movies and restaurants, totaling $3.6 billion.

Fred Rayle is director of operations for the Nino Salvaggio grocery chain, which is based in Troy. The stores in Troy, Clinton Township and St. Clair Shores are prepared for Valentine’s Day shoppers who are looking for anything from cards to wine to flowers to food, Rayle said. For example, they’ll likely sell out of their handmade chocolate-dipped strawberries and private-label candies.

“We try to tie in special events like this in every department of our store, whether it is the full-line florists to our bakery to our wine departments,” Rayle said. “Even our meat department gets involved. We take boneless Delmonico steaks and butterfly them so it looks like a heart. We also sell a lot of salmon steaks because they’re red before they’re cooked.”

What makes Valentine’s Day ideal for retailers is that shoppers want to express their love not only for their significant others, but for the friends, pets and places around them. That is one reason why Pure Detroit is putting a little bit of the city into its marketing this year, said Ryan Hooper, founder of the Detroit Small Business Passport and creative director for Pure Detroit.

Its “Detroit Love” custom-printed boxes are the “perfect packaging to send your love from Detroit,” said Hooper. “You can customize to include anything you want or we have some that are prefilled with everything from Alinosi chocolate to Stella Good coffee.”

Hooper, who manages Pure Detroit’s four shops and its online retail business, said buying local truly resonates with shoppers during this loving holiday. That is why Pure Detroit decks out its retail shops with decorations for Valentine’s in hopes of drawing in people who feel that city pride and want to wear their hearts on their T-shirt sleeve.

Pure Detroit also is offering its regular free tours that Saturday of the Fisher and Guardian buildings, providing a great potential date activity.

“Anyone who lives here know it’s a great place. There’s a great vibe in the city, and that word is starting to get out nationally,” Hooper said.

Karen Dybis is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.

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