NAIROBI, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- Charles Muriithi put on a disarming smile as he attended to clients attracted to his stall where neatly arranged bouquet of roses were on display on Wednesday afternoon when a romantic mood enveloped the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
The 27-year-old florist had invested heavily to ensure that his stall located at the entrance of the main market in Central Nairobi would catch the attention of clients yearning to treat their significant other with red roses.
During an interview with Xinhua at his stall, Muriithi said he was optimistic this year that the Valentine's Day could be accompanied by a financial windfall to help him recover from a dry spell in January.
"As for now, the sales are looking up and we cannot complain since the orders are still coming mainly from middle aged male professionals. We expect sales to pick up in the evening," said Muriithi.
The city market in central Nairobi where Muriithi has been operating for half a decade was a beehive of activities on Valentine's Day as florists used every trick in the book to lure customers.
Muriithi's oratory skills endeared him to clients who sampled the roses on display and later settled for the best arranged bouquet to surprise their loved ones.
He revealed that a single stem of red rose was retailing at one dollar while a large bouquet of roses accompanied by a bottle of red wine retailed at 45 dollars.
"We are also getting orders through social media platforms and quick deliveries have cemented our relationship with clients," said Muriithi.
Kenyans defied economic uncertainties and busy work schedule on Valentine's Day to flock open air markets in central Nairobi where flowers were retailing at budget friendly prices.
Christine Melu, a 21 year-old college student waited patiently for a female florist in Nairobi's city market to prepare a mid-sized bouquet of red roses that she intended to deliver to her fiancé.
"This is a special day for me and contrary to conventional theory, women are also coming out strongly to purchase flowers for their male lovers. I look forward to a fun filled Valentine's Day like other young adults in stable relationships," said Melu.
Kenyan florists had devised creative ways to attract customers in a day when love birds cast aside the anxieties associated with modern living to indulge in fun.
Geoffrey Mungai, a veteran flower vendor in his late 50s anticipated brisk sales even as some of his colleagues worried about the impact of inflationary pressures facing middle class Kenyans on their business.
"Am confident our loyal customers will still make their orders for red roses even as we embark on aggressive marketing through social media platforms," Mungai told Xinhua.
He revealed that a prolonged election cycle witnessed in Kenya last fall coupled with a slump in purchasing power had affected the flower business.
Nevertheless, the father of two said that Valentine's Day presented flower vendors with an opportunity to recover from past losses.
"I have noticed that Kenyans are still determined to treat their loved ones with roses this Valentine's Day. We have made enough orders from flower firms on the outskirts of Nairobi to cater for this demand," said Mungai.
Kenya has one of the most vibrant flower industries in Sub-Saharan Africa that has defied market volatility, competition and climatic shocks to survive.
Investors in Kenya's flower industry have always bet on huge demand for red roses during Valentine's Day to make a financial windfall.
A spot check by Xinhua revealed a huge appetite for roses displayed in market stalls and supermarkets as Kenyans prepared to mark the lover's day.
Brian Kimani, a flower vendor in his mid-20s said that red roses remain a favorite choice of gift among Kenyans celebrating Valentine's Day and its timeless allure.
"The response from clients is good and we are anticipating higher sales by the close of the day. This is an exciting day for informal flower merchants and we are confident the returns on our investment will be satisfactory," said Kimani.
He had invested in additional workers to help attend to inquisitive customers looking for quality red roses to gift their significant others.
Kimani disclosed that the mushrooming online retail platforms coupled with social media had revolutionized flower business in Kenya.
"Apparently, a huge number of our clients used digital platforms to order for flowers this Valentine's Day. We intend to make optimal use of the ever expanding digital space to transform the flower business," Kimani told Xinhua.