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One last Valentine’s Day and then, goodbye

On Monday, because of a winter storm that had just passed, the Flower Exchange was unusually empty for the day before Valentine’s Day.
On Monday, because of a winter storm that had just passed, the Flower Exchange was unusually empty for the day before Valentine’s Day.David L Ryan/Globe Staff

Goodbyes are never easy.

And for some vendors at the Boston Flower Exchange who are moving soon from the South End space to Chelsea, the day before their final Valentine’s Day in the building they’ve occupied for decades had a little heartbreak in it.

Following a weekendlong mix of wintry weather that crept into Monday, it was quiet in the sweet-smelling warehouse, the sounds of cardboard boxes being closed shut with tape and the squeaking wheels of carts filled with flowers echoing in the building.

“Because of the storm, of course, it’s been a little bit trying,” said Pat Riccardi, who co-owns Riccardi Wholesale Flowers. “This is relatively quiet, and mostly due to the weather. Because it’s not like this on the day before Valentine’s Day.”

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Riccardi said many buyers took a proactive approach to Valentine’s Day and came in early Sunday. Others made their selections in the days ahead of the holiday. The products he had left were mostly on hand for those who need to restock and fulfill orders for lovesick customers.

Riccardi and 10 of the 12 vendors at the space on Albany Street plan to settle into a new 65,000-square-foot facility by the start of next month.

The move was supposed to come sooner. But in January, wholesalers were told by the Abbey Group, the new owners of the property, that they could stay through February, ensuring that Valentine’s Day sales would not be disrupted,

Even so, the weekend’s wet and heavy snow slowed what would typically be a hectic morning.

“It affects it,” said Riccardi, standing among bundles of pink, purple, and red roses curled into plastic wrapping like colorful cinnamon buns.

Gerry Cupp, owner of Cupp & Cupp Corp., said most of their work as wholesalers is typically complete by Feb. 11. But the day before Valentine’s Day is often so busy, he’d hardly have time to stop and talk.

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Five days of snow “checked us a bit,” he admitted — Cupp was able to give a rundown of the popular flowers in stock, rattling off names like an auctioneer.

They had lilies, mini carnations, carnations, and protea, he said. And tulips, caspia, dusty miller, and helleborus.

Of course, he added, “roses by far are number one.”

“I mean, are you going to go home and take your girlfriend, or whoever, a bunch of calla lilies?” Cupp said.

Reuven Levi, co-owner of Berkeley Florist Supply, which has operated from the Flower Exchange for more than 30 years, also said the weather took a toll, and “screwed us up a little bit.”

“We have a lot of roses here,” he said, looking slightly dismayed as he stared at rows of boxed flowers. “Hopefully, the customers show up. The market’s empty. . . . Usually the day before we are mobbed.”

Despite the lack of customers, Levi said he was looking forward to moving into the upgraded Chelsea building and starting anew.

“I think it’s going to be great,” he said, shifting his attention from Valentine’s Day. “We are going to make it great. We have got to make the best of it.”


Katheleen Conti of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.