A plan for
Albertsons store in Weatherford, Texas, wins the 2006
“Merchandising Award of Excellence” contest.
by Cynthia L. McGowan
Tapp is a planner. Ms. Tapp, the floral manager at Albertsons
No. 4176 in Weatherford, Texas, maps out her promotions far in
advance. She thought up her 2006 Valentine’s Day display as she
was working on her 2005 promotion, and her resulting “City of
Love” creation won the grand award in the 2006 “Merchandising
Award of Excellence” contest, sponsored by Super Floral
Retailing and Bˆrgen Systems.
Ms. Tapp says she is constantly thinking about how to
merchandise her floral offerings. “One night I woke up in the
middle of the night” with the idea for the City of Love, she
says. As the year went by, she kept thinking of different ideas
for her promotion, and by the time she was ready to build the
display, “I already had it all planned out in my head.”
Her huge display, which featured a “flower shop” made of
Coca-Cola 12-packs nestled within the backdrop of a city skyline
and even included a store employee dressed as King Kong, wowed
not only shoppers but also the judges of the “Merchandising
Award of Excellence” contest. For her victory, she was presented
the Bˆrgen Cup by Arden Bˆrgen, founder of Bˆrgen Systems,
during the Keynote Breakfast at The Super Floral Show in June in
Salt Lake City, Utah, where she received a standing ovation. Her
prize also included airfare to the show and hotel
HEADQUARTERS Boise, Idaho
STORES 660, as of press time; Albertsons has announced
plans to close 125
OWNER Investment group led by Cerberus Capital
Management; company is part of the January 2006 deal that split
Albertsons Inc. into three parts; Supervalu bought 1,100 stores
and CVS acquired 700
CEO Robert Miller
STORES’ AVERAGE SIZE 56,000 to 63,000 square feet
FLORAL SERVICES Full-service floral departments, with
custom designs, weddings and funerals; some offer delivery
FLORAL CATEGORY MANAGER, Dallas/Fort Worth Division,
FLORAL MANAGER, Weatherford, Texas, Lisa Tapp
Ms. Tapp is known among her customers and fellow employees for
her exciting merchandising displays, especially at Valentine’s
Day, her signature promotion. “Everybody stops by and asks,
‘What are you doing this year?’” she says. “They really get
enjoyment out of it.”
Shoppers were wowed by this year’s promotion, Ms. Tapp reports.
“I had a lot of people walking in and saying, ‘Whoa!’” when they
saw the display, she says, which filled a 400-square-foot area
reserved for special promotions. Shoppers entered the City of
Love’s flower shop through a huge heart-shaped arch decorated
with twinkling lights, where they were greeted by singing plush
gorillas, one on each side of the heart. An “Empire State
Building,” made of Coke 12-packs and with a posterboard King
Kong climbing up the side, served as the display’s centerpiece.
Coke 12-packs also served as the shop’s walls, which had three
awning-covered windows that let customers see products from both
inside and outside the display. Throughout the display, shoppers
were treated to a huge assortment of merchandise including
bouquets, arrangements, blooming plants, candy, baked goods and
Overhead, an assortment of balloons, cut-out clouds and
airplanes added movement and interest. The far walls of the
display had silhouettes of skyscrapers to complete the City of
The King Kong idea came to Ms. Tapp when she took her
granddaughter to see the movie. The “live action” Kong appeared
at the store the day before Valentine’s Day along with Kong’s
“Beauty,” another store employee who dressed up for the role.
Beauty helped customers, but Kong was there more for
entertainment. Customers loved the character, especially
children. “Even the bosses thought it was just too cute,” Ms.
The promotion was a huge success, Ms. Tapp says. “We sold nearly
everything. I had hardly anything left.”
Keys to Success
MERCHANDISING Albertsons stresses the
importance of merchandising to boost sales and offers in-house
contests to increase employees’ skills and enthusiasm.
FRESH PRODUCTS Albertsons’ corporate buying program
enables it to buy a wide variety of products at low prices.
Deliveries are made to the stores at least three times a week.
SERVICE Many of the floral employees have a background in
floral and offer products and designs that customers want.
Stores will design arrangements while customers shop.
TRAINING Albertsons offers group sessions with well-known
designers to show store florists cutting-edge designs.
marks of a winner
Ms. Tapp’s display had all the elements that go into a winning
SIGNAGE Signage was easy to read, abundant and looked
professionally made. A huge banner over the top of the display
said “City of Love” and served to direct customers to the
promotion. Signage gave price points and product information.
Much of the signage was printed on paper that had a cloud motif
and matched “clouds” that Ms. Tapp had positioned over the
CROSS-MERCHANDISING In addition to Coca-Cola products,
the promotion featured many items from other parts of the store
including greeting cards, perfumes, bakery items, Little Debbie
snacks and candy.
COLOR HARMONY Befitting a Valentine’s Day display, the
dominant color was red. The Coca-Cola 12-packs were the perfect
color to serve as the foundation of the display, and the
signage, backdrops, props and product selection coordinated well
STAND-ALONE DISPLAYS The promotion had several
merchandisers that were well-organized and effectively
presented. The “Empire State Building” centerpiece served as a
stand-alone display, and it was surrounded by arrangements,
plants, balloons and gift baskets.
PROPS The props in the display added excitement, whimsy,
and in some cases, sales. The singing plush gorillas at the
entrances sold out. The posterboard Kong tied the display into
pop culture, and the live-action Kong added even more interest.
Ms. Tapp made airplanes from corrugated board and covered them
with aluminum foil. They hung from the ceiling and looked as if
they were pulling the giant banner that proclaimed the City of
Love. She wrote the store number on the bottom of the wings.
PRODUCTS In addition to the cross-merchandised items, the
display offered a huge array of fresh and silk floral items.
Products included dozen and half-dozen rose arrangements, mixed
arrangements, silk rose arrangements, gift baskets, plants and
plant baskets, and bouquets. Prices for arrangements ranged from
$19.99 to $79.99.
A new item Ms. Tapp offered this year was a big hit. She took
small, heart-decorated bags and filled each with a half-size
Coca-Cola can and candy. She decorated them with curly ribbon
and sold them for $3.99. They were popular as gifts for teachers
and children, and “I was selling them as fast as I could make
them,” Ms. Tapp reports.
The floral department also took custom orders, and that’s where
Ms. Tapp’s planning skills came in especially handy. She made
all the arrangements in the display as well as the custom
orders, using no ready-made arrangements, with the help of the
department’s only other full-time employee, floral clerk Maria
“We have a system,” Ms. Tapp says. Before the holiday, they put
greens in vases and foam in baskets and had them ready in the
cooler. “You wouldn’t believe how much that helps,” she says.
Most of the custom orders were placed by shoppers already in the
store, and the rest, about 20 percent, were phone orders. Ms.
Tapp says she often will design arrangements for customers while
they are shopping.
the display also took planning and organization. In December,
Ms. Tapp started making the city backdrop out of cardboard
boxes. She photocopied the “windows” in different colors and
stapled them to the boxes.
Ms. Tapp also made the nonfresh products such as the gift
baskets early so all she had to do was put them out at the right
time, about 2.5 weeks before Valentine’s Day. About a week
before the holiday, the Coca-Cola vendors stacked the 12-packs
for the shop. Ms. Tapp and Ms. Castaneda made the heart entrance
out of empty 12-packs and covered it with red table roll.
It was a lot of work, but Ms. Tapp believes in the power of
merchandising. “I’m known for making these displays, but that’s
how I’m going to sell my product better,” she says. “Because if
you just stick something out, people will buy, but I don’t think
they’ll buy as much.”
Tapp has been with Albertsons for nearly five years. She
previously worked for an independent florist for 2.5 years, and
before that, she was with another grocery store floral
department for 11 years. She strongly believes in offering
high-quality florals and countering any negative perception some
people may have about supermarket florists. “I want customers to
think they can come in here and get florist-quality flowers,”
She offers a wide variety of floral products that keep her
customers coming back week after week, including clients who
followed her from her previous shop. She enjoys hearing from
loyal customers who greet her with, “Hey Lisa! What do you have
Although Ms. Tapp’s store was one of the 660 purchased by
Cerberus Capital Management Inc. in the sale of Albertsons Inc.,
floral procurement will remain through Supervalu Inc., the
company that bought the majority of Albertsons stores. The
corporate buying program keeps costs down for consumers while
offering a broad selection of products.
With more than 1,700 stores in both corporate entities to
supply, the procurement program gets products from many vendors
including growers from California, South America and Holland.
Ms. Tapp’s store is in Albertsons’ Dallas/Fort Worth region,
where vendors ship their products to a distribution center. From
there, products are shipped to stores three times a week. Local
floral managers like Ms. Tapp order what they need from
corporate, and they get plants and special orders from local
The most popular items in Ms. Tapp’s department, which is near
the front at the checkout stands, are in the corporate “three
for $10” promotion. Customers can buy three bunches of flowers
including Alstroemerias, carnations, birds-of-paradise,
Hydrangeas, callas, Gerberas and Gladioli. Roses are $2.49 a
Bouquets are good sellers, too. One that does well is the
“Butterfly Bouquet,” with Gerberas, spray mums, Alstroemerias,
lemon leaf, ting-ting and a butterfly pick, for $7.99.
Cut flowers are Ms. Tapp’s biggest sellers, but plants do well,
too. She sells many upgraded blooming plants, with an average
price of $18.99. Dish gardens also sell well, averaging $29.00.
Ms. Tapp says people in Weatherford, population 22,000,
primarily hear about her floral services through word of mouth.
She provides flowers for as many as 14 weddings a year,
including setup and delivery, and gets the business usually from
brides’ or their families’ recommendations. “It makes me proud
because they like what I’m doing. I try to make it as special as
if it was one of my kids’ weddings,” she says.
That extra touch is what has propelled Ms. Tapp to success. She
says she was overwhelmed when she found out she had won the
“Merchandising Award of Excellence” contest. “People here
thought I’d won the lottery,” she says, “and I said, ‘You know,
in my head, I did win the lottery,’ because this is like a life
dream for me.”
The Honor Award winners
Look for articles about the 2006 “Merchandising
Award of Excellence” Honor Award Winners in the September and
October issues of Super Floral Retailing.
The Honor Award winners are:
Honor Award for Best Signage Patty Malloy, floral
manager; Gordy’s County Market; Eau Claire, Wis.
Honor Award for Best Cross-Merchandising Dave Quinn,
store manager; Robby Bennett, produce manager; and Cynthia
Tarver, floral specialist; Publix Super Market No. 842; Vestavia
Honor Award for Best Use of Props Donna Bennett, floral
manager; and floral staff; Hy-Vee Overland Park No. 1; Overland
Honor Award for Best Color Harmony Julie Baldassari,
floral manager; Albertsons No. 303; Riverton, Utah
Honor Award for Best Stand-Alone Display Pam Mohler, Weis
Market floral associate; and Tammy Smith, TotalFloral business
counselor; Weis Market No. 58; Mechanicsburg, Pa.
You may reach Cynthia L. McGowan
email@example.com or by phone at (800)
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