Valentine's Day is a big day for Jennifer Nicotero and Robert Klinefelter for more than just the usual reasons.
Klinefelter owns and manages , and last Valentine's Day he invited Nicotero to join him in the business with something they could do year-round.
They both had an interest in flowers, so they decided to open a retail floral shop at 5960 William Flynn Highway in Richland Township.
Nicotero says it was a logical move.
"I grew up in a family that owned a garden center and flower shop," says Nicotero. "Design work is my trade."
At first, Nicotero says she and Klinefelter are "just friends who've known each other for a long time, have similar business interests and talents, so we decided to combine them. "
Or something along those lines.
A fine story, but they can't fool anyone for long. Neither can hide the fact that they're more than business partners. It's in the way they look at each other and their loving banter. They seem like a long-married couple.
Which, in a way, they are.
They met years ago when they were just out of high school and attending CCAC North Campus. Nicotero says they dated for four or five years, but it didn't work out.
"We were young and it was just one of those things where we weren't sure what we wanted," says Nicotero.
At the time, Nicotero was still working for the family business and Klinefelter struck out on his own to start a landscaping company because he was also interested in landscaping and gardening.
Both married other people and had two children each, all boys.
Both marriages ultimately failed, so Nicotero and Klinefelter were single again when they met up by chance on the South Side in spring 2009.
It was love at second sight.
"We really just picked up where we left off," says Nicotero.
They've been together ever since, and their four boys get along great, which is a bonus. They're planning to marry eventually, but for now they are focusing on the business and trying to make a go of the flower shop.
When they do set a date, it seems like a Valentine's Day wedding would be appropriate.