Galentine’s—a celebration of female friendships sparked by an episode of ‘Parks and Recreation’—is hitting the mainstream this year as companies scramble to rejuvenate sales around Valentine’s Day
What should you get your friend for Galentine’s Day? Everyone from Hallmark to Walmart suddenly has an idea.
Women across the country are embracing a ladies-only spin on Valentine’s called Galentine’s Day, a celebration of female friendship marked by brunches, pink drinks—and each other. “No boys allowed,” says 35-year-old project manager Amanda Nietzel, who is hosting a Galentine’s Day brunch Feb. 9 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The idea has been gathering steam for a few years but is hitting the mainstream now, as retailers and restaurants seize on a way to rejuvenate Valentine’s Day. Only 51% of Americans plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, down from a high of 63% in 2007, according to a National Retail Federation survey. NPD retail analyst Marshal Cohen, who says younger consumers associate Valentine’s with their parents, estimates the Galentine’s phenomenon could raise Valentine’s Day revenues by as much as 20% in the next three years.
Greeting card makers such as Witty Kitty Creations say Galentine’s Day cards are outselling Valentine’s themes. PHOTO: SHELLBY COYLE
Etsy says searches related to “Galentine’s Day invitation” increased 32% in the three months before Feb. 14 compared with last year. Shellby Coyle, who runs Etsy shop Witty Kitty Creations, says Galentine’s cards featuring messages such as “ladies celebrating ladies” and “why can’t every day be Galentine’s day?” eclipse sales of traditional Valentine’s Day products. “Nobody likes Valentine’s Day anymore,” she says.
Galentine’s, by contrast, is “about celebrating friendships and each other,” says 26-year-old Kathleen Burns, who’s hosting a “Galen-Tiki” party Feb. 10 featuring pineapple upside-down pancakes and rum drinks with umbrellas. “It’s not about relationships and love,” says the residence hall director at New York’s Columbia University.
Kathleen Burns prepares her home for a Galen-Tiki brunch featuring rum punch, pancakes and quiche. PHOTO: TOM MILBURN (2)
Retailers are eager to tap into the trend. Party City, the 900-store party-supply chain, is offering more than 50 Galentine’s Day products for the first time this year, including balloons, streamers and napkins. “We really think we can make it something big,” says Melissa Sprich, vice president of merchandising. The emphasis on female friendship and self-care, particularly in the wake of the #MeToo movement, “takes it to a more modern-day approach,” she says.
Hallmark this year is offering 16 cards that mention Galentine’s Day, up from 10 last year. “Be my galentine. What would I do without a friend like you?” asks one. Spokeswoman Jaclyn Voran says the company expanded the collection as research showed that two-thirds of women who buy Valentine’s Day products did so to celebrate nonromantic relationships. And, of course, women in same-sex couples celebrate romantic relationships with each other as well.
Party City offers Galentine’s Day supplies such as banners, balloons and cocktail napkins. PHOTO:PARTY CITY
Walmart has been expanding its Galentine’s Day offerings, putting products on display at 1,011 stores this year, spokeswoman Tara House says. The retailer began selling items such as cards and balloons saying “girl gang” and “fries before guys” two years ago, geared toward teens and tweens. But research showed the concept appealed more to adult women, so the company shifted to products such as wine glasses that read “wine is my valentine” and flasks that say “ex-boyfriend tears”—and started referring specifically to Galentine’s Day, as the phrase gained traction on social media and elsewhere.
Galentine’s Day popped into the vernacular after a 2010 episode of “Parks and Recreation” featured heroine Leslie Knope holding a Galentine’s brunch for her friends. “What’s Galentine’s Day?” she asks rhetorically in an aside to the camera. “It’s only the best time of the year! Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style: ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair minus the angst…plus frittatas.”
Since the show went off the air, evolving social dynamics have helped turn Galentine’s Day into an actual event, says co-creator and executive producer Michael Schur. “The basic nuts and bolts of Valentine’s Day feels antiquated,” he says. “There’s this perfect storm of women asserting themselves appropriately…as people that make their own decisions and not wait for men to buy them flowers anymore,” he says. He believes the show’s writers came up with the term. “I think it came out of a discussion about how Leslie Knope would handle Valentine’s Day, which led to the idea that she would want to add her own holiday to celebrate her female friends.”
Arley Cakes in Richmond, Va., offers heart-shaped Galentine’s Day cookies that say “Thank U, Next” and “Treat Yo’Self.” Owner Arley Arrington began making the cookies two years ago (a dozen for $30) and they now outpace sales of her other Valentine’s Day baked goods by two to one. “There’s a big trend in celebrating Valentine’s Day as a way to empower women and celebrate female friendships,” she says.
Bakery businesses such as Arley Cakes are making heart-shaped cookies with girl-power messages. PHOTO: ARLEY CAKES
In Columbus, Ohio, 35-year-old Jessica Moses posted an invitation on Facebook to some 30 female friends for a Galentine’s Day Party at a local bar, posting a picture of ladies gazing over cocktails. “This, ladies, is what Galentine’s Day is all about,” wrote the executive assistant to the provost at Columbus College of Art & Design.
Restaurants say the concept offers a way to extend Valentine’s Day business to more dates than just the 14th. In Charleston, S.C., restaurant Parcel 32 is holding a Feb. 13 Galentine’s Day event in its cocktail lounge with champagne specials, skinny cocktails and $1.50 oysters.
Restaurants like Parcel 32 in Charleston, S.C., say Galentine’s Day events stretch revenue opportunities beyond just Feb. 14. PHOTO:ANDREW CEBULKA
“Why not have an event that enhances business on these ‘shoulder dates’ that wouldn’t otherwise be incredibly busy,” says Amber Cote, executive director of Patrick Properties Hospitality Group, which owns the restaurant. She expects the event could increase Valentine’s Day revenues by as much as 50% this year.
Christina Stembel, chief executive of Farmgirl Flowers, a floral-delivery service based in San Francisco, says that 75% of its customers are generally women buying flowers for other women. A recent Galentine’s Day-timed email to customers offered ideas on “fave ways to spoil your BFF,” including flowers, plants and caramel corn.
In San Clemente, Calif., employees at L+ Co. Lash Studio are closing down their salon Wednesday to perform Galentine’s Day beauty treatments—on each other. Stylist Kristina Robertson says she and her three colleagues often say they never have enough time to perform their popular beauty services—such as fake-eyelash applications and eyebrow tattooing—on themselves. The women will begin their treatments on each other at 11 a.m. and break for wine and cheese at a restaurant across the street sometime in the afternoon. “It’s kind of a self-care, time-out,” says Ms. Robertson, who is mother to a 5-year-old girl and an 11-week-old baby.
Write to Anne Marie Chaker at firstname.lastname@example.org