Full Service Victory
Stater Bros. Markets store in West
Covina, Calif., wins the 2007 “Merchandising Award of
by Cynthia L. McGowan
it’s your first Valentine’s Day as a full-service floral
department, you want to let customers know what you’re capable
of. You need a display that captures their imaginations and
That was the thinking behind an oversize “doghouse” that served
as the focal point for the Valentine’s Day display this year at
Stater Bros. Markets’ Store No. 106 in West Covina, Calif. The
huge display captured not only customers’ attention but also the
grand prize in the 2007 “Merchandising Award of Excellence”
contest, sponsored by Super Floral Retailing and Börgen
The display, with the theme “Puppy Love: Let Stater Bros. Help
You Stay Out of the Doghouse,” was created by Angie Olivares,
floral clerk; Vanessa Nemeth, store associate; Mike Esquibel,
produce manager; Jason Taylor, assistant store manager; and Bob
Becker, store manager. Liane Temple, floral director for Stater
Bros., accepted the Börgen Cup on their behalf from Arden Börgen,
founder of Börgen Systems, during the Keynote Luncheon at The
Super Floral Show in June in Columbus, Ohio.
Later in the month, officials from Börgen Systems and Stater
Bros. presented the Börgen Cup to the winners during a special
ceremony at the store. Ms. Temple told Super Floral Retailing
that Stater Bros. “is extremely proud of [the store team] for
taking this on and representing our stores.”
move to full service
The West Covina store recently had completed a remodeling that
added a seafood department, upgraded the deli and bakery, and
moved floral from the produce department to the front of the
store, Mr. Becker says. Before the remodeling, which was
unveiled to the public on Dec. 6, floral was a self-service
department offering a small selection of bouquets, arrangements
and potted plants.
With the remodeling, floral became a full-service department,
offering customers bountiful choices of cut flowers, bouquets,
arrangements, potted plants, home-décor items and custom
designs. The department is at the entrance to the store, setting
a tone of freshness and quality as customers enter.
Planning for Valentine’s Day began at the end of December, just
a few weeks after the change. Ms. Olivares wanted to create a
memorable display that would get customers excited about Stater
Bros.’ floral offerings and keep them coming back long after the
holiday was over. “I thought, ‘We have to do something really
big, something to capture everyone’s attention, to let them know
we have a full-service floral department now,’” she recalls.
stater bros. markets
HEADQUARTERS Colton, Calif.
CHAIRMAN and CEO Jack H. Brown
STORES 163 in Southern California (in San Bernardino,
Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Kern counties);
the company also owns Heartland Farms dairy
SALES $3.5 billion in fiscal 2006
ESTABLISHED 1936 by twin brothers Cleo and Leo Stater
stores’ average size 30,000-45,000 square feet
WEST COVINA STORE SIZE 38,000 square feet
FLORAL SERVICES All 163 stores have floral, with services
depending on store size; many provide custom designs, weddings
FLORAL EMPLOYEES Average one per store
BIGGEST FLORAL HOLIDAY Mother’s Day
FLORAL DIRECTOR Liane Temple
FLORAL SPECIALIST Martha Rangel
WEB SITE www.staterbros.com
That’s exactly what she and the team created in the “Puppy Love”
display, which featured a 12-foot-tall by 12-foot-long
“doghouse” that could be seen throughout the store. “It was a
really big display,” Mr. Becker marvels. “The pictures don’t do
The doghouse had two entry points and had open sides, making
products easily accessible to customers. Shopping carts could
fit inside, adding to the accessibility. Inside and outside the
doghouse, customers found bouquets, arrangements, plants, plush,
balloons, candy and much more.
The designers created the theme with two meanings in mind. It
was both a humorous approach to those who might need help
“staying out of the doghouse” during Valentine’s Day, and it
also aimed to appeal to animal lovers who treat their pets like
members of the family.
As part of that appeal to animal lovers and to get both
customers and employees involved in the promotion, the store
invited them, through fliers, store signage and word-of-mouth,
to bring in photos of their dogs. Ms. Olivares and Ms. Nemeth
decorated the photos like valentines and then posted them on the
doghouse. They kept careful records so the photos could be
returned to their owners at the end of the promotion. “That was
a lot of fun,” Mr. Becker recalls. “It got a lot of interest and
The promotion had the intended effect. “It was amazing how much
our sales went up,” Ms. Olivares reports—57 percent from
Valentine’s Day 2006, in fact. Mr. Becker adds that sales the
day before and the day of the holiday were “astronomical,” and
there was little product left over.
of a winner
The store’s display had all the elements that go into a winning
THEME Once team members saw some of the items they would
be selling for Valentine’s Day, they knew the theme was a
winner. “There were items that tied in perfectly,” Ms. Olivares
recalls, such as puppy-dog plush and candy sold from a box that
looked like a doghouse. “These were all the signs telling us to
do it,” she jokes.
The theme’s clever play on the two concepts of dog lovers and
lovers in trouble gave the store a multitude of creative
tie-ins. The doghouse got customers’ attention, and the store’s
use of their pet photos got them involved.
SIGNAGE A large banner at the front of the doghouse
proclaimed “Puppy Love” in foam lettering. Well-made,
easy-to-read signage gave price points and item names. Signage
featuring fire hydrants, dog bones and paw prints was placed
throughout the display and helped carry out the theme.
COLOR HARMONY The team chose the traditional Valentine’s
colors of red and pink, with some purple. The two roof sections
of the doghouse were a bright red, drawing even more attention
to the display. The colors combined to make a pleasing palette.
STAND-ALONE DISPLAY The doghouse was its own stand-alone
display, and it served its purpose well. It got customers to
come to the floral department, and it also held a multitude of
products, neatly arranged on shelving. Plants and bouquets
surrounded it to tempt customers as they walked by.
Mr. Taylor, the assistant store manager, built the doghouse from
Ms. Olivares’ sketches. He got wood from The Home Depot and
built the sturdy structure in about four days on the store’s
back dock. “We had to think about safety first,” Ms. Olivares
says, so Mr. Taylor made sure the doghouse would withstand
touching by curious customers. “It did take a little bit longer
because of that,” she shares, “but, in the end, it was well
worth it.” An added benefit is that the structure can be used
for future promotions with different themes.
CROSS-MERCHANDISING The store cross-merchandised
extensively, offering wine, champagne, candy, greeting cards,
baked goods and chocolate-covered strawberries.
PRODUCTS In addition to the cross-merchandised products,
the department offered a large array of floral-related items.
Roses, including dozen-rose bouquets and single stems, were the
best-selling items for the holiday. The department also offered
mixed bouquets and arrangements. Miniature rose and Hydrangea
plants were big sellers, too.
Adding even more interest to the display were balloons,
including some that had humorous dog themes. “There were
balloons everywhere,” Ms. Olivares says, and they sold well.
Ms. Olivares also created custom designs for customers. “I’m the
only designer,” she remarks, so “if I had time, I would do them
on the spot, and if not, I would take orders, and [the
customers] would come back later that evening or the next day.”
keys to success
COMMITMENT TO FLORAL Stater Bros. Markets’ remodeling
efforts have included turning self-service floral departments
into full service and moving them to the front of the stores.
FRESH PRODUCTS The company has a “guaranteed” program
with its main floral vendor. That means that any product not
sold is the responsibility of the vendor, perhaps giving the
supplier more incentive to have only the freshest florals.
Products are delivered to the stores twice a week.
HOME-DÉCOR LINE Customers have responded well to a line
of stylish home-décor products that is offered in the stores
with full-service floral.
MERCHANDISING The company has contests to encourage
creative and effective floral merchandising. The entire store is
encouraged to get involved in the promotions.
Customers appreciate the opportunity to purchase custom designs
now that the department is full service, Ms. Olivares reports.
In fact, “they were ecstatic” when they learned the news, she
says. They like the convenience of ordering flowers for proms,
anniversaries and other occasions while grocery shopping.
In addition, Stater Bros.’ full-service departments offer a
popular home-décor line including candles, tables, mirrors,
fountains, permanent flowers and decorative vases. Customers
like to see Ms. Olivares’ new selections, asking “OK, what did
you get in now?” she shares.
Ms. Temple says all of Stater Bros.’ store remodels have moved
floral to the front of the stores. Floral up front not only
“creates the ambience and the fresh impact” for customers, she
says, but it also “grabs customers right when they walk into the
store,” capturing the impulse sales that are so important to the
The move at the West Covina store appears to be paying off.
“It’s just been tremendous as far as [floral] sales go,” Mr.
Becker says, estimating that they have more than doubled.
the value of merchandising
Ms. Olivares, who has been a floral designer all of her adult
life, relishes the opportunities that come with working in a
full-service department, especially the merchandising side of
the business. “I love building displays,” she says. “If you put
the time and the creativity into making a nice big display ...
that makes the total difference in what your sales are going to
Stater Bros. encourages creative merchandising with floral
display contests at Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and
Thanksgiving. The contest criteria include creativity, theme,
signage, best use of space and cross-merchandising. “We like to
get the whole store involved,” Ms. Temple says. The company
picks one winner from each of its nine districts, and the “Puppy
Love” display won its district.
The West Covina store’s Mother’s Day was even more successful
than Valentine’s Day. The floral department drew an oversize
flower with a hole cut in the center where children could put
their faces and have their photos taken as gifts for their
mothers. “Each holiday, we’re just doing better and better in
regard to floral sales now that we have a full-service floral
department,” Mr. Becker shares.
The next big opportunity is Christmas, and the doghouse
structure figures prominently in Ms. Olivares’ plans. “I can’t
wait,” she says. “I have a huge idea of what I want to do.”
the honor award winners
Look for articles about the 2007 “Merchandising Award of
Excellence” Honor Award Winners in the September and October
issues of Super Floral Retailing.
The Honor Award winners are:
BEST SIGNAGE Patty Malloy, floral manager/buyer; Gordy’s
County Market; Eau Claire, Wis.
BEST CROSS MERCHANDISING Lisa Tapp, floral manager,
Albertsons No. 4176; Weatherford, Texas
BEST THEME DEVELOPMENT Rosie Tippetts, floral manager;
and Josh Allen, store manager; Maceys Store No. 1034; Pleasant
BEST COLOR HARMONY Lori Trotter, floral manager; Chelsey
Murray, designer; and Michelle Schultze, floral clerk; Hy-Vee
West Des Moines No. 2; West Des Moines, Iowa
BEST USE OF STAND-ALONE DISPLAYS Susan Meehan, produce
manager; Barbara Split, floral specialist; and David Tapia,
store manager; Publix Super Market No. 663; Brandon, Fla.
Unless otherwise noted, photos are courtesy of Stater Bros.
You may reach Cynthia L. McGowan
email@example.com or by phone at (800)