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It's Valentine's Day, the holiday of chubby-winged babies armed with sharp, pointy objects, anatomically incorrect hearts and love.

In America, that love is symbolized through chocolates, flowers and, sometimes, wedding rings.

Candy

Nationally, the candy industry is a multi-billion dollar one - $12.6 billion, to be exact. In 2009, the latest year for which figures are available, that was the total value of shipments for firms producing chocolate and cocoa products, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Non-chocolate confectionery product manufacturing, meanwhile, was a respectable $7.4 billion industry.

Locally, those numbers seem to be bearing out.

"Usually we're not open on Mondays, but we're open today because of Valentine's Day being tomorrow," Stephanie Gilbert, owner of Georgie Lou's Retro Candy and Gifts, said Monday afternoon.

"I wouldn't say we're super-busy. Valentine's Day has been kind of a hard holiday to get our finger on. We're trying to figure out, what are people buying? What could we bring into the store that would get people into the store?" she said.

"It's much more a man's holiday. Men are doing the shopping and because of that, it's much more last minute," she added.

"Thursday, Friday, Saturday we did see it ramping up as far as business. The people we are getting are because of Valentine's Day. We had a whole group of Dickinson College girls come in. They didn't buy big things, but they got little things for their girlfriends," Gilbert said.

She expects business to be heavier today because of it being the actual holiday and because the store is usually open on Tuesdays.

"We're on the radar for being open Tuesday through Saturday and we've been pushing through advertising that we're your place. We can do gift baskets, we can do it all. That really has made a difference this year.

"Probably Saturday and today, we've had more male shoppers than previous Valentine's Days," she said.

Georgie Lou's, at 22 N. Pitt St., will be open from noon to 7 p.m. today.

Marriage

Lots of couples choose to tie the knot on Valentine's Day, although more frequently in years when the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday.

Last year, Cumberland County issued 1,167 marriage licenses issued, mostly in the spring, according to Glenda Farner-Strasbaugh, register of wills/clerk of orphans court.

In Pennsylvania, a couple must wait three days after applying for a marriage license to actually pick up the license and get married. Once issued, the license is good for 60 days.

"We saw a lot of increase last week," Farner-Strasbaugh said.

At 4:30 Friday afternoon - the time the courthouse officially closes - the office had three couples waiting to apply for their marriage licenses.

Because of the three-day waiting period and the weekend, Friday was the last day to apply for a marriage license that would enable an amorous couple to wed on the romance holiday.

Flowers

Valentine's Day is also known for flowers - more so than any holiday other than Mother's Day.

Tuesday "will be the busiest cash-and-carry day of our year," said Sandy Weibley, an employee at Pealer's Flowers, 56 W. High St.

"We were slammed today," she said Monday. "In Carlisle, in my store... everything here I do custom. In Carlisle, nobody wants the standard FTD arrangement, they want to add something to it," she said.

Although she loves doing the custom arrangements to give customers exactly what they want, it takes extra time "and it does get crazy," she added.

"One thing about Carlisle customers is, they'll wait or they'll come back. They'll come in and say, ‘Can you do this up for me? I'll come back and pick it up,' and we say, ‘Sure,'" she said.

"We do have a lot of phone orders. The people who plan ahead are the phone orders. They know what they want. Fifty percent of men who don't call ahead, those are the ones who want something different," Weibley said.

The store will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. today.

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