Businesses offer unusual gifts for Valentine's Day sweetheart

The Associated Press

PHOENIX Valentine's Day isn't all hearts and flowers.

Several Phoenix florists and businesses are offering gifts a little off the beaten path. From dead roses to violin serenades, anything is available, these places say they have it all.

Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona is selling condom packs that provide four condoms, candy and a $10 coupon good toward an examination at one of the agency's 11 clinics, said Cheryl Swain, associate director for Planned Parenthood.

''Valentine's Day usually falls on National Condom Week,'' Swain said. ''And this is kind of a way for people to get talking about using condoms.''

The packs are $2 and clients are buying them up, she said. Last year, the agency sold condom roses and condom mints.

Phoenix musician Steve Vaughn believes he has an ear for what people want to buy for their beloved.

Vaughn and three other violinists employed by his company, Violin-A-Gram Inc., deliver 10-minute serenades and roses for $65.

''I perform most of the deliveries myself,'' said Vaughn, who has delivered music to customers for the past 17 years. And he'll provide it at any hour 24 hours a day.

At 3 a.m. one Valentine's Day morning, Vaughn showed up to serenade a couple lounging in their hot tub. They weren't exactly dressed for the occasion, he said.

''I came around the hedges and they were in the hot tub, not wearing anything,'' he said. ''And I just tried to focus on the moon and stars.''

When Valentine's Day has turned sour, Drop Dead Flowers has gifts living up to their motto, ''Let us help you ruin someone's day.''

The business sells dead flower bouquets and cattle feces, which the owners will hand deliver to the hapless recipients. The flowers they get from a wholesale company. The feces they collect themselves in fields north of Phoenix.

''The flowers are actually very beautiful,'' said Robert Coyle, Drop Dead co-owner. ''They're just dead. We have to kill them ourselves.''

Coyle said most of his clients are going through a divorce.

If couples aren't talking, the Family Service Agency has the answer.

The central Phoenix group is offering communication workshops for couples' who aren't hugging and kissing on Valentine's Day.

''The goal is to make relationships work,'' said Carole Brazsky, the agency's community relations specialist. ''Maybe in addition to the normal red roses, someone can give these classes as a present.''

The classes, which run for five weeks, start Feb. 21 and cost $125 per couple.

Florists' top advice this Valentine's Day: Buy early.

''People get really irritated when I tell them flowers they ordered at 2 p.m. won't get there at 3 p.m.,'' said Tracy Cruz, an employee at Fresh Cut Romance.

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