Buckets of baby's breath, tulips and irises filled a walk-in cooler at Flowers by Gina D. on Thursday. Vases were wrapped with pink ribbons, and teddy bears and greeting cards stood ready for purchase.
Missing were the four drivers who had been scheduled to make about 100 deliveries the day before Valentine's Day, leaving the store scrambling during its most lucrative time of the year.
"Some of my drivers can't even get out of their street," said Regina Davis, who owns the shop on North Charles Street with her husband, Jonathan.
The Davises were among the florists adjusting their preparations for the holiday of love, as the region digs out from this winter's biggest storm.
Beyond the challenge of delivering hundreds of arrangements on slippery roads, the storm set up many other logistical headaches for merchants holding perishable inventory shipped in from far away.
Many customers waited until the last minute to buy flowers, and those who didn't were scrambling to change delivery addresses as their loved ones' employers told them not to come into work.
"It's insane," said Lord Baltimore Florist owner Jacqueline Dezes.
She'd been up since 3 a.m. and was missing about half of the workers who were scheduled for Thursday. By midmorning, those who made it to the store were balancing phone calls, arrangements and walk-in customers like Mark Ross, who wanted something different from the traditional roses for his wife.
"She'll love it," Ross said as Dezes finished an arrangement featuring a red vase, tropical flowers and a glittering heart decoration.
"I think it's more about the thought of it, that you stopped and did it," said Ross, who works as canine security captain at Mercy Medical Center across the street. "And now that it's snowing, it makes it even more special."
About half the workers who were scheduled Thursday made it to the North Calvert Street store, Dezes said.
That was just one of the problems she was facing. Many customers had ordered flowers to be delivered to workplaces, but wanted to change delivery destinations because so many businesses had closed through the weekend. She predicted that she would need twice as many deliverymen as a typical Valentine's Day because of bad roads.
At Flowers by Gina D., Regina Davis said more than 10 people had been scheduled to work at her store, but only she, her husband and lead designer Christopher Blackwell showed up.
The Davises, who live in Baltimore County, stayed in a hotel near the store Wednesday night. Blackwell's bus got stuck twice as he traveled to work.
The dozens of orders scheduled for delivery Thursday will have to be made on Friday, she said.
"We're just asking people to try to understand," she said as Blackwell filled clear vases with flowers for the "European Romance" arrangement featuring hot pink and red roses.
Paula Dobbe-Maher, owner of Dutch Floral Shop at Belvedere Square, was relieved that about 1,500 roses she ordered from Ecuador arrived at BWI on Wednesday night.
"This kind of weather is very, very difficult because sometimes the airports just cut off the transportation of perishables," she said. "It was kind of a stressful few days. ... I always let them come as late as possible so they're as fresh as possible, but it's also a risky thing."
Kaitlin Radebaugh, a manager at Radebaugh's Florist & Greenhouses in Towson, said the shop was "actually doing very well" Thursday despite the snow, though she said walk-in traffic was down.
The morning was slow as public works crews cleared off area roads. Nobody came in until 11 a.m. But after lunchtime, the phones were ringing off the hook.