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Mom's the Word

Stores Brace for Last-Minute Shoppers


Today is going to be one mother of a shopping day.

Florists who have seen steadily budding business all week expect sales to burst into spectacular bloom.

Leslie Adkinson of Leslie's Hallmark in Ventura, which has the good fortune of being next to a florist, expects nothing short of "bedlam" as last-minute shoppers crowd the aisles.

With Mother's Day looming large before even the most practiced of procrastinators, Fred Yasukochi stood calmly behind the counter at Trufflehound's Fine Chocolates in downtown Ventura Friday, smiling wistfully in his empty store.

"Men usually wait until the very last minute," he said with the authority of one who knows. "I anticipate our busiest Mother's Day business will be after 3 o'clock. And we'll even get some business Sunday because we're open noon to 5."

Mother's Day ranks third for chocolate sales, outpaced only by Valentine's Day and Christmas, he said. Unlike Secretary's Day--

when quantity wins out over quality--people shopping for mother have a tendency to splurge on expensive truffles, he said.

Customer Al Lemmon was living proof of that as he purchased boxes of truffles and other chocolates for his wife and daughter--a first-time mother.

"They are the strength of a family and the glue that binds a family," he said of mothers, adding that in his household, mom is also in such complete control that exact plans for Sunday are fuzzy. "I won't know until the boss tells me what to do, when and how. I just take out my wallet and pay."

While attempts to find a Sunday brunch reservation in Ventura County on Friday were met with guffaws at most restaurants, reservations were available elsewhere.

"Mother's Day is not necessarily a dining day--it's a family day," said Don Gurganus, the manager of Bella Luna restaurant in Newbury Park. Still, he said he expects to be relatively busy Sunday: "We've got about 70 reservations. I hope I don't have to turn anybody away."

With Hallmark estimating that 154 million Mother's Day cards will be sent on the third most popular card-sending occasion, Adkinson was bracing for a rush of last-minute shoppers today.

"No one wants to forget their mother," she said.

Lyra Singleton wasn't forgetting anyone Friday as she browsed the card racks.

She had selected a card for her mother. And sister. And grandmother. And mother-in-law. And aunt. All this from someone who will be a mother herself in four months.

"I expect a card," the mother-to-be said firmly, recalling all too vividly recent bouts of morning sickness. "I've been through hell for the past few months."

Singleton should hang in there, though. Veteran mothers say the holiday only gets better.

"I love the fuss," said Patti Preston as she left the Sunshine Flower Shop in Ventura, her arms laden with 50 carnations that her church will present to moms as they walk through the door Sunday. "It's the only day you can expect extra touches. My family really goes out of the way."

Even those who don't, still do well. At his candy shop in downtown Ventura, Yasukochi doesn't have to worry about a last-minute gift. He knows from experience how to sweeten his mother's special day.

"My mom is going to get chocolates," he said. "She stays away from here usually--she loves chocolates."

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