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Merchandising Merit
Island paradise

Roche Bros. designers wow NEPC Expo attendees with their tropical-themed booth.

When a group of talented Roche Bros. floral designers came together to design a booth for the New England Produce Council’s (NEPC) Produce and Floral Expo in Boston, the result was a visual delight of colorful, creative merchandising.
The eight Roche Bros. floral designers, led by Debbie Loche, floral buyer/merchandiser, created a booth with a tropical island flair in homage to the April 6 Expo’s “Survivor” theme. The booth, whose centerpiece was a “thatched”-roof hut, was overflowing with colorful flowers and plants and drew crowds of admirers throughout the day.
The booth took about five hours to build, including the time spent on the signage, says Ms. Loche. She considers it time well spent. When designers get together, “they get very creative, and they see how one’s doing an arrangement, and they take that back to the stores with them,” she says.
The display had the elements necessary for a great merchandising display including:

The display had a wide variety of both flowers and plants. On one side of the booth, a table of fresh Gerberas, orchids, birds-of-paradise, pincushions (Leucospermums) and Anthuriums in brightly colored vases were grouped for a striking effect. Opposite them were bromeliad plants in attractive baskets. Foliage plants were grouped in their own area of the display, and upscale arrangements were found throughout.
The Roche Bros. designers both found and made items to match the tropical theme. Island masks and tiki torches were sprinkled throughout the display. A campfire was composed of stones, wood and an orange paper flame. The hut was made of cardboard and duct tape, with raffia matting laid over the top.
Empty bean crates borrowed from the produce department were covered with potato sacks and made authentic, weathered-looking backdrops for the cut flowers and plants. The boxes were arranged on different levels, adding depth to the display. Arrangements were showcased on the boxes as well as on a metallic outdoor table covered with seashells.
The Roche Bros. team covered the floor with burlap. They put sand on the burlap for a beach effect.
Ms. Loche is a believer in the importance of signage in merchandising, and the display reflected that. Throughout the display, teal blue signage in the shape of tropical leaves gave care and handling information on individual products in easy-to-read, attractive writing. Actual foliage leaves, written on with black marker, were used for other signage, such as product identification.
Produce associated with the tropics—bananas, pineapples, papayas, avocados, oranges, lemons and kiwis—was displayed in baskets.
The Roche Bros. designers incorporated the blue backdrop that came with the booth, using it to complement the ocean theme. The display’s bright colors drew visitors to the booth and made them want to get a better look at the variety of products on display.
The display appealed to viewers’ sense of humor and fun. A plush Alf, from the old TV series and wearing a tropical shirt, peered over a Roche Bros. banner and exhibited a leaf sign that read “sole survivor.” A bright sun made of cardboard peeked over the hut’s roof. A hidden sound system played the sounds of running water and birds chirping. The designers all wore tropical shirts and leis. They also sported wide smiles during the daylong Expo, reflecting the pride they felt in designing a wonderful, well-admired merchandising display.

You can reach Merchandising Merit writer Monica Humbard at or (800) 355-8086.

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