Valentine’s Day spending stories: Philosophies vary about the price of love

Gabriel Tumlos, junior in Business, thought he had this Valentine’s Day all figured out. Standing at the counter of Campus Florist on Green Street, he forked over $60 for a dozen pink roses to arrive by surprise delivery at his girlfriend’s front door.

“And what is the recipient’s phone number?” asked the clerk. “We will need it to verify delivery.”

“Ummm, just a second,” Tumlos replied, reaching for his phone. “Oh, come on! My battery’s dead. I can’t believe this. I don’t have her number memorized.”

Campus Florist had no qualms about holding Tumlos’ order until he charged his cell and phoned in his girlfriend’s digits. It is, after all, thanks to college students like Tumlos that its sales surge every Feb. 14.

But men aren’t the only ones buying flowers and boxes of chocolates. According to the National Retail Federation, total Valentine’s Day spending by both sexes is estimated to reach $17.6 billion this year — the highest amount in the past 10 years.

“Girls spend more on Valentine’s Day,” said Kayla Thomas, sophomore in LAS, matter-of-factly. “We have hair, nails and a dress to pay for. Guys only have dinner.”

Thomas said she is not the average college girl who revels in the holiday of love “in a huge way.” She will even dare to wear an old dress to the Valentine’s Day pasta dinner her male friends arranged to cook. If Thomas were in a serious relationship, she said she would prefer just to do something low-key to celebrate.

Justin Faber, junior in Engineering, has no choice but to do something low-key due to geographic complications. Although he is in a relationship this Valentine’s Day, his girlfriend is at home in Finland. Still, the long-distance relationship isn’t saving the entirety of his wallet.

“I’m sending her Fruit Loops Soap,” he said, smirking at the cleverness of his plan. “It smells really good and it’s made of Fruit Loops.”

Faber believes he lucked out by falling for a Finnish girl because she doesn’t expect as much as many American girls do for Valentine’s Day. He met her while she was studying abroad at his high school, and ever since they’ve tried to use their money in order to visit each other rather than giving lavish gifts to one another.

For Bryan Kennard, sophomore in Engineering, Valentine’s Day spending is as unavoidable as death and taxes. His birthday happens to be the same day, yet no one seems to care. He was always confused in elementary school when everyone received gifts on his birthday; it never felt like his day.

Last year, Kennard took a girl out to dinner for Valentine’s Day. His birthday was an afterthought.

“My birthday falls second to Valentine’s Day always,” he said, rolling his eyes. “You’ve got to make the girl happy by getting flowers and jewelry and going out someplace nice.”

Katie Schlegle, an employee at Fannie May Candies on Neil Street, agrees with Kennard that society expects guys to spend more on Valentine’s Day. Women come into the store for chocolate, but men are the ones that cause the desperate, long lines every Valentine’s Day evening.

“The young guys wait until the last minute,” Schlegle said, laughingly. “Some of them really don’t know what they’re doing and we have to suggest things.”

Anne Johnston, owner of Campus Florist, thinks both men and women should relax and just enjoy Valentine’s Day. She says she’s been around a long time and understands that Valentine’s Day is just about having fun and showing loved ones you care. She’ll spend a little cash this holiday on her husband, even though he passed away 11 years ago.

“He’ll be getting flowers and he’ll be getting kisses,” she said, as she patted her cat “Trouble” who lives in the store.

“Valentine’s Day is one holiday he never forgot.”