Valentine's Day is serious businessBy MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader February 11. 2017 6:09PM
MANCHESTER - People still like going out to dinner, but giving a card is losing favor. Valentine's Day remains a popular day for couples even if technology may have changed how some express their love.
"People nowadays, they'll get a hundred Facebook messages of Instagram messages of texts, but no one gets a real card," said Doug Young, who owns four 1/2 Off Cards stores in New Hampshire.
Young said he tries to diversify his stores but is glad his children aren't interested in running his locations in Manchester, Derry, Hudson and Somersworth.
"It's very hard to make ends meet and stay viable," Young said. "Expenses keep going up and the sales don't."
Valentine's Day ranks third for sales behind Christmas and Mother's Day, he said.
The Internet also has given many people another way to find friends.
"When you date online, you can get as many as you want," said Julie Houle, 59 of Manchester.
She said she has three boyfriends she met online but is taking her mother out to dinner on Valentine's Day.
"Valentine's Day will last the whole week when I see the guys," Houle said.
She said she was buying cards for granchildren, but in general, "Now, everybody does the internet and Facebook."
At Best Buy in Manchester, General Manager Chris Perfetti said Fitbits, which tracks people's activities using wireless-enabled wearable technology, were selling well for Valentine's Day.
Many people are "health conscious right now," Perfetti said. But Feb. 14 is not a big one for the store.
"Presidents Day is a lot bigger for us," he said, with appliance specials a focal point.
Romantic movies are also popular around this time, he said.
Taking your significant other out for dinner remains popular.
"It's one of the busiest nights of the year," said Jeremiah Hayes, kitchen manager at the Auburn Tavern.
The eatery is offering a three-course dinner, including a choice of prime rib, for $25 a person that Hayes said is about half the normal price.
An overwhelming number of Americans surveyed (87 percent) gave permission to cheat on their diet on Valentine's Day and 44 percent said they would splurge and order pricier items off the menu, according to the survey by Open Table, an online restaurant reservation website.
But whether your partner frowns when you play with your phone depends a lot on your age.
A majority (55 percent) gave a thumb's down, but among millenials, those age 18 to 34, 71 percent said it was OK to use the phone for any reason during dinner.
Manchester resident Dan Jones shopped for a card last week and lets his wife choose where she would like them to eat.
"Usually, I take my wife out and give her flowers," Jones said. "A happy life is a happy wife."
The Bedford Village Inn is offering a four-course price-fixed menu for $75 per person with sea scallops the most popular option for women and the grilled ribeye for men, according to sales director Melissa Samaras.
Feb. 14 is "definitely in the top five, absolutely" for business, she said.
"It's definitely a celebration," she said,
People will spend more that night to enjoy the food, served on linen-covered tables.
"I think it's an indulgent holiday in and of itself," Samaras said.
La Carreta Mexican Restaurant is offering "a fajita for two" that includes two sides and two salads for between $13 and $15.
After Cinco de Mayo on May 5, "Mother's Day and Valentine's day might be tied," said Theresa Hughes, manager of the Hooksett Road location in Manchester. "It depends on what day it falls on."
Both restaurants expected to be busy over this weekend with Valentine's Day falling on a Tuesday this year.
When it comes to gifts, men and women both agreed on what item they most wanted for Valentine's day: "Something thoughtful," according to a survey by Ebates, which rewards members with cash back on their purchases.
What not to get?
No lingerie or money for women and no flowers or spa day for men, according to Ebates.
A Manchester indoor shooting range, Manchester Firing Line, marketed the day as a chance to "get all 'fired up.'"
"What would a better date be like than going to the range?" said co-owner TerryAnn Bowen. "You go to eat all the time."
Couples can go for $60 to $80 a person, including use of a personal instructor.
But people should shoot before dinner.
"You can't have a glass of wine and then go shooting," Bowen said.