From the February 2006 issue of Entrepreneur

Even if you don't own a flower or candy shop, February's arrival is good news. According to the National Retail Federation, in 2005, people spent an estimated $13.2 billion buying gifts for their sweethearts for Valentine's Day.

According to Carol Schroeder, author of Specialty Shop Retailing: How to Run Your Own Store, "People are moving away from heart-shaped paperweights and more toward meaningful gifts."

Rosanna Bowles' Rosanna Inc. knows how to market to this crowd. The upscale Seattle dishware retailer creates displays featuring red plates, platters and accessories. Says Bowles, "Retail sales are slow after Christmas, but February is our first blip on the radar screen, when things start to pick up." A few ways you can take advantage:

  • Use red. Red is powerfully linked with Valentine's Day, so look for scarlet merchandising ops. "A hardware store can create red gift baskets filled with tools," suggests Schroeder. Or offer discounts on any red products you sell.
  • Tag traditional advertising. Use your regular promo to suggest your products as perfect gifts.
  • Have some heart.Orange Tree Imports, Schroeder's own shop in Madison, Wisconsin, adds heart-shaped balloons to Valentine gift purchases over $10, adding a holiday-appropriate touch.
Gwen Moran is co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans.