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Special deliveries

Welcome to Valentine’s Day with the island’s only florist

February 17, 2016
By John Morton ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Glenn Key on Saturday had just completed delivery 30 in a long day of 60, but he remained enthusiastic. That's what happens when you're in the smile business.

"There's nothing like a smile - and finally people here have something to smile about," said Key, who has been delivery flowers on Valentine's Day for Santini Floral for three years, and like everyone else had to fight the frown-producing construction and island traffic that has made life here a challenge. He was in his third day with more than 100 deliveries under his belt.

"I'm a pretty popular guy on Valentine's Day," Key said with a laugh. "My favorite deliveries are to the older ladies. They just seem to appreciate flowers more than anyone."

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Bayview Boulevard's Susie Knoll smells the roses on Saturday, enjoying her Valentine's Day delivery on Saturday courtesy of Santini Floral.

Ah yes, the power of the flower. Fort Myers Beach native Debbie Morin knows it well, having spent 30 years in the business. She began when she was just 10, helping at her mother's shop, Designs by Mary Ann.

Morin would go on to work with some big-time clients, including providing stage flowers for Elton John and arrangements for movie sets, and then started Santini Floral in Santini Marina Plaza five years ago. Today, she's Estero Island's only florist.

Three months ago, she moved the business to 2801 Estero Blvd. in Sea Grape Plaza, where she could be closer to some of her larger clients like DiamondHead and Pink Shell resorts.

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The smell of love was certainly in the air over the weekend, with more than 1,000 roses going through her shop. How big of an allure is it? Morin's store was full of volunteers who just wanted to be part of the fun and the action - including a retired school teacher, a visiting snowbird and neighboring pizza-place owner.

"Even my mother is coming in to help, despite having suffered a total of six strokes," Morin said. "Usually, it's just me here."

This year has seen a few new twists. First, she is featuring chocolates provided by Beach Brew and Bakery, a new business which opened next door on Saturday.

Then, she's discovered a whole new clientele in the form of the construction workers that toil outside her shop.

"I've had a bunch of them come in here to order Valentine's Day flowers," she said. "A lot of them know about my father he's J.P. Murphy, and he built the beach's roads 40 years ago so they have a place in my heart.

"I get a kick out of all the guys. They'll come in and ask me, 'Do you think she'll like that?'"

How is Morin supposed to know, right?

"Actually, I usually do as far as the locals go," she said. "Remember, I grew up on the beach and know everyone. One person came in and ordered flowers for someone I know and I said, 'Wait a minute, she hates bright arrangements. She likes all white.' So I fixed that situation."

With the dizzying barrage of orders in her life each February, can Morin recall her favorite Valentine's Day delivery?

"It was just last year, when I delivered flowers to the beach for woman who was 104. She was set up to be able to sit on a bed," she said. "That was very sweet."

One part of her business that isn't so bright, of course, is arranging flowers for funerals.

"People should be getting flowers while they're alive," Morin said. "I know one person who takes them room by room with her, so she can always enjoy them."



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