A display to fall for
Jefferson City, Mo., wins the 2009 “Merchandising Award of
When two departments work
together, they can produce amazing results. That’s what Floral
Manager Mary Stegeman and Produce Manager Nick
Littrell of Schnucks in Jefferson City, Mo.,
discovered when they teamed up to create a “Fall Fun Fest”
promotion last year. Their colorful display, bursting with the
best of both departments’ autumn bounty, earned them the grand
prize in the 2009 “Merchandising Award of Excellence” contest,
sponsored by Super Floral Retailing and Börgen Systems.
The display, featuring a huge cardboard walk-through turkey
as its focal point, wowed customers as soon as they walked into
the store. Inside the floral department, which is at the store’s
entrance, large signage proclaimed “Fall Fun Fest” in lettering
painted to resemble rustic logs. Overhead, large, colorful
leaves appeared to be falling from the ceiling.
Ms. Stegeman and Mr. Littrell made sure their departments
offered shoppers everything they needed for fall celebrations.
The cornucopia of products ranged from apples, gourds, pumpkins,
cider, candy and wine to balloons, potted mums, Kalanchoes,
crotons, ornamental grasses, bouquets of sunflowers and
Alstroemerias, and arrangements ready to grab and go from the
cooler. The entire department was filled with a color palette of
orange, yellow, brown, green and burgundy, evoking a fall
Michael Schrader, floral director for Schnucks,
says fall is a natural time for cross-merchandising, with the
floral operation’s hardy mums and produce’s apples and pumpkins.
“We do a lot of cross-merchandising,” he confirms, “but Mary
just went above and beyond what we normally do for a display
because that’s one of the things that she’s really good at.”
The judges in the contest agreed, awarding Ms. Stegeman an
expense-paid trip to The Super Floral Show in Atlanta,
Ga., in June, where she was presented the crystal Orrefors
Börgen Cup by Arden Börgen, CEO and founder of Börgen
Systems, during the Keynote Lunch. She also received hotel
schnuck markets, inc.
St. Louis, Mo.
CHAIRMAN AND CEO
106, including five Logli stores, in Illinois, Indiana,
Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Wisconsin
$2.5 billion (estimated) in 2008, according to Supermarket
News’ “Top 75 Retailers for 2009” listing
STORES' AVERAGE SIZE
63,000 square feet
Average two per store
FLORAL EMPLOYEES IN JEFFERSON CITY STORE
1 full time and 2 part time
Full-service floral departments in 101 stores, offering
custom designs, weddings and events, delivery and FTD
OPERATION'S CONTRIBUTION TO TOTAL STORE SALES
1 percent to 1.5 percent
Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day
FLORAL MANAGER, JEFFERSON CITY STORE
floral and produce team up
Stegeman credits Mr. Littrell for the idea to work together. “It
all started when Nick said he wanted to build a display with
produce and floral,” she recalls. Mr. Littrell is known in the
store for designing effective produce displays, and the
artistically inclined Ms. Stegeman creates all the in-store
signage. Their talents would combine for a perfect merchandising
A fall display was ideal because of its cross-merchandising
possibilities and also because the slower summer months allowed
more time to devote to working on the promotion. Ms. Stegeman
started saving the cardboard she needed for the signage and
turkey in June, and their construction took about two weeks.
The team decided to have the display ready by early
September. “We wanted to have it up for as long as we could,”
explains Ms. Stegeman. It was up through Thanksgiving, and
vignettes and appropriate products were added for National Boss
Day (Oct. 16) and Halloween.
In the planning stages, Ms. Stegeman, who says she changes
the look of her department often to keep customers’ interest
piqued, decided early on that she needed an
eye-catching element. She spied a garden arbor in the liquor
department, and it inspired her to make the turkey. “I thought,
‘It would be neat to have a turkey to walk through.’ So then I
just found a way to create it.”
Because her apartment was too small for the immense project,
she borrowed her store’s co-manager’s garage for the turkey
construction. Without a pattern or template, she painted the
Pilgrim-hat-wearing turkey onto the cardboard pieces with
tempera paint. “I laid the arbor down on the cardboard and kind
of drew around it and cut from that,” Ms. Stegeman describes.
The turkey was then taken in pieces and assembled at the store.
Ms. Stegeman completed other elements of the display at her
home, including painting the cardboard leaves, signage and
rustic-looking cardboard “fencing” that surrounded some of the
vignettes. “For a while, my apartment smelled like a sixth-grade
art class,” she exclaims. The team’s do-it-yourself, frugal
approach saved on expenses, with the materials for the display
costing only $30. Ms. Stegeman also received time off for the
hours she worked off site.
keys to success
Employees have the tools to create effective merchandising
displays, as shown when the floral and produce departments
at Schnucks in Jefferson City combined their strengths to
design a fall display that wowed shoppers and increased
Schnucks keeps customers coming back by offering fresh,
long-lasting products. Floral managers order them through
the company’s 48,000-square-foot floral distribution center
in St. Louis, Mo.
Customers can go to Schnucks for all their floral needs,
including custom designs, weddings, sympathy and events.
Floral associates receive training to make sure they are
offering customers the services they expect.
keeping customers coming back
Customer engagement and fresh products
are the keys to repeat floral sales, advises Mary Stegeman,
floral manager at Schnucks in Jefferson City, Mo. “We get a
lot of the same customers,” she describes. “A lot of repeat
What brings them back? “We always try to engage the customers
and give them information because the more information they
have, the more comfortable they feel buying things,” she
reveals. That means encouraging customers to ask questions,
providing them care instructions with their products and
offering tips such as which flowers last longest.
The floral department also makes sure customers get maximum
vase life for their dollars. “We’re really picky about
keeping everything fresh,” Ms. Stegeman says. “We get a lot
of customers, the repeat customers, because our bouquets are
always so fresh.”
assembly of the display was a three-hour team effort involving
the store’s co-manager, manager and porter, Mr. Littrell, Ms.
Stegeman and a floral clerk. The porter hung all the leaves from
the ceiling as well as the turkey’s head. “It was a very heavy
display,” Ms. Stegeman explains.
Customers’ reactions validated the team’s hard work. “They
loved it,” Ms. Stegeman reveals. “They were just thrilled.” And
the added attention to the department increased sales, she
Both children and adults loved going through the turkey, and
Ms. Stegeman discovered a dual purpose to the oversize prop.
Along with serving as a focal point, it got people to go to the
back of her 1,000-square-foot department. “We have kept the
arbor up since then because it has worked so well in bringing
customers more into the department,” she says.
the winning elements
Elements that helped make the display a winner included:
THEME The entire floral
department was devoted to the “Fall Fun Fest” theme. The turkey
prop set the tone, and falling leaves, log-lettered signage,
fencing, a pumpkin patch and autumn florals and produce all
contributed to the feeling that customers were part of a fall
SIGNAGE The signs were a
key part of the display’s success. Because they all were created
by Ms. Stegeman, they coordinated well. She painted all the
lettering on cardboard, and it was easy to read and
eye-catching. Some of the signage was in shapes such as pumpkins
and logs, keeping with the fall theme.
The orange, brown, burgundy, black, yellow and green hues chosen
for the display elements perfectly complemented the fall
products. The result was an attention-getting display that made
customers want to get closer and touch the products.
Produce was an important part of the promotion. Customers could
choose from Missouri-grown apples, gourmet candy apples, cider
and much more.
FLORAL PRODUCTS Hardy
mums, ranging from $4.99 to $8.99 for 6-inch pots, were the
top-selling floral items during the promotion. The department
stocked more than usual and had a subsequent sales bump. Ms.
Stegeman included them with the cross-merchandised products as
well as in their own free-standing display.
“Bouquets were really strong, too,” she reports. Mixed
bouquets of fall-colored Alstroemerias, sunflowers,
lilies and spray mums ranged from $6.99 to $14.99. Customers
also were treated to upgraded plants such as Kalanchoes
and rubber plants. A cooler, with fall leaves painted on the
doors, was full of “grab-and-go” arrangements. In addition,
autumn-themed foil balloons floated above the floral and produce
The resulting display, one that delighted customers, children
and contest judges, was worth the effort, Ms. Stegeman reveals.
“We knew it was going to take quite a bit of time,” she recalls.
“Just the thought of it could be a little bit daunting, but once
we got started, we found the time to do it, and I’m glad that we
floral's importance to
Schnuck Markets Inc., headquartered in St. Louis, Mo.,
places a high priority on floral, comments Michael
Schrader, floral director. The company “really values
the service part of our department,” he remarks, and backs
up its commitment to floral with full-service departments in
101 of the chain’s 106 stores.
Mr. Schrader cites Schnucks’ layout for new stores and
remodels, which gives floral a high-profile position. “We
have great exposure in all of our new footprints, at the
front of the stores,” he says. That front location makes a
big difference in sales, he points out. After a recent
remodeling in which floral was moved to the front from the
back of a store, “we had, right off the bat, a 40 percent
increase in sales.”
Schnucks also shows its commitment to floral through the
service it provides. The company offers custom designs; FTD
flowers-by-wire service; and sympathy, wedding and event
work. The floral operation’s 48,000-square-foot distribution
center in St. Louis houses its “Focus on Design” design
center, where 12 designers and four wedding coordinators
handle full-service weddings. “It’s part of our whole
philosophy of how we operate,” Mr. Schrader remarks. “We’re
not just a cash-and-carry florist.”
Training is important to making sure customers get the
service they need. Schnucks partners with FTD for training,
including its Certified Master Designer program. In
addition, Rhonda Lynn-Moeckel, AIFD, serves as
Schnucks’ training coordinator and offers classes throughout
the year. Confirms Mr. Schrader: “Part of our recipe for
success is for our department managers to be floral
Look for articles about the 2009 “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 Emily Kopp and Casi Fults;
Publix Super Market No. 1057; Brentwood, Tenn.
HONOR AWARD FOR BEST CROSS-MERCHANDISING Patty Malloy;
Gordy’s County Market; Eau Claire, Wis.
HONOR AWARD FOR BEST THEME DEVELOPMENT Sandi Probst;
Lin’s Marketplace; St. George, Utah
HONOR AWARD FOR BEST COLOR HARMONY Sherrie Palmer and
Annette Sandquist; Hy-Vee; Fort Dodge, Iowa
Reach Editor in Chief Cynthia L. McGowan at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 355-8086.