By Alex Lippa
---- — Roses and chocolates may be the norm for Valentine’s Day gifts, but Al Bacon offers sweethearts something outside the box.
Bacon, owner of Al’s Gun and Reel Shop in Derry, said his shop sees Valentine’s Day customers, too.
“A lot of ladies are buying guns now,” he said. “It’s not like the old days anymore.”
Bacon now offers a line of pink guns, complete with pink ammunition. A portion of those sale proceeds goes to help fight breast cancer.
He said he’s talked to couples whose Valentine’s Day plans were to go shooting together.
“A lot of girls go shooting with their husbands,” he said. “It gives the guys a partner to go with.”
Guns aren’t the only unusual gift.
Some couples make their Valentine’s Day sentiments permanent.
“We get people coming in occasionally for joint Valentine’s Day tattoos,” said Josh Charland, managing owner of Heritage Tattoos in Salem.
Having a sweetheart’s name in a heart or matching cherubs inked on is fairly popular, he said. So, too, are puzzle pieces and a key-and-lock combination.
But, Charland admits, it’s not something seen very often for the February holiday.
“It takes a certain type of person to consider a tattoo as a Valentine’s Day gift,” Charland said. “It’s not like roses.”
Roses, candy and jewelry may be traditional, but they are all still popular.
“Business has been great,” said Dan Veniga, a florist at Delahanty Nursery and Florist in Windham. “We are up from last year. People seem to be in good moods this year.”
Veniga said roses are the most popular Valentine’s Day choice, but spring floral arrangements also sell well.
Rick Boie, owner of Pearl’s Candy in Salem, said he has been busy this week.
“Usually people come in the weekend before Valentine’s Day,” Boie said. “But the snow slowed everyone now. We’re getting a backlash of that now and it’s been pretty packed.”
It was so busy at at Sanborn Candies in Plaistow it took a couple of tries to get a comment.
Sales associate Danielle Fortin said Valentine’s Day is busy, really busy at the sweet shop.
“This only ranks behind Easter and Christmas,” she said. “But I think a lot of people buy Valentine’s Day gifts a day or two before, so it becomes really busy here.”
Fortin said chocolate-covered strawberries are once-a-year favorites.
“We only make these for Valentine’s Day,” she said.
Jewelry is an old favorite, but practicality can top sentiment, according to one local jeweler.
“People are making more of an educated purchase as opposed to a romantic purchase,” said Elie Semaan of Naser Diamonds and Fine Jewelry in Salem. “In some ways, the girls are more outspoken about what exactly they want.”
Some people will take their love to new heights today.
Tony Sica, owner of High 5 Ballooning, said a number of people have reserved hot-air balloon flights.
“Just by nature, ballooning is romantic.” Sica said. “Weather permitting, four people will be going out tomorrow morning.”
Pets are remembered, too.
Susan Keenan of Woof It Down of Windham offers special Valentine’s Day gifts for the family dog.
“We have special Valentine’s Day collars and leashes,” she said. “We’ve also got special Valentine’s Day dog cookies.”
Shoppers were out in full force yesterday, but most were secretive about their purchases. Todd Ellis of Londonderry was at Annie’s Hallmark in Londonderry, but he wasn’t divulging anything.
“I just need to make sure all my bases are covered,” he said.
At SophistiCakes in Windham, Marilyn Jasper of Windham was buying cupcakes and strawberries for her family yesterday.
“(Yesterday was) the perfect time to buy them,” Jasper said. “This is when they will be the freshest for Valentine’s Day.”
Owner Lisa Desrochers said people will buy Valentine’s Day sweets as late as they can.
“Last minute here is usually late afternoon on Valentine’s Day,” she said.