Taking floral to a
This St. Louis-based chain adds
upscale gifts, accessories and furniture to its product mix.
by Cynthia L. McGowan
Schnuck Markets, Inc. of St. Louis, Mo., has taken its
full-service floral departments in a new direction by adding
upscale giftware, home-dÈcor accessories, furniture and more
types of specialty flowers. Consumer response to the pilot
program, which began four months ago, has been overwhelmingly
positive, company officials report.
Rhonda Lynn-Moeckel, AIFD, design coordinator/trainer for the
101-store chain, says the company initially planned to “kick it
up a notch” in floral. In reality, she says, “we’re kicking it
up several notches.”
The floral operation’s new look was unveiled in February during
the opening of the privately owned company’s prototype store in
Twin Oaks, Mo., a growing western suburb of St. Louis. At the
time, the chain’s stores in metropolitan St. Louis were
preparing for an expected expansion of Wal-Mart Supercenters in
the area, Chairman and CEO Scott Schnuck told the St. Louis
Post-Dispatch. Part of the strategy to combat that new
competition was to lower prices on more than 10,000 items in the
St. Louis area.
The other key to Schnucks’ strategy is upscaling, and the Twin
Oaks store is the hallmark of that effort. The
63,000-square-foot store is designed to appeal to shoppers’
senses while offering convenience and service.
schnuck markets, inc.
St. Louis, Mo.
CHAIRMAN and CEO Scott C. Schnuck
STORES 101, including five Logli stores, in Missouri,
Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee and Mississippi
SALES $2.3 billion in 2006, according to the Directory of
Supermarket, Grocery & Convenience Store Chains
stores’ average size 63,000 square feet
FLORAL SERVICES Full-service floral departments in 98
stores, offering custom designs, weddings and events, delivery,
and FTD flowers-by-wire service
FLORAL EMPLOYEES Average two per store
FLORAL category manager/buyer Michael Schrader
design coordinator/Trainer Rhonda Lynn-Moeckel, AIFD
The store is divided into two distinct sections: perishables and
grocery. The perishables side houses the produce, deli, bakery,
seafood, meat and floral departments, all under a huge arched
roof. Spanning much of the width of the perishables side is a
sign overhead that proclaims “Marketplace” below a drawing of an
enticing feast. The colors in the sign complement the earth
tones in the perishables area—a pleasing palette of greens,
browns and reds.
The inviting produce department merchandises its large selection
of fresh products on wooden tables, giving it a farmers’ market
feel. “Produce really sets a tone for freshness in our stores,”
describes Michael Schrader, Schnucks’ floral category
The spacious perishables area also has a deli, where customers
can buy made-to-order sandwiches and entrees. The bakery offers
fresh goods baked on site. “A lot of our customers come to our
stores because we have a fresh bakery,” shares Ms. Lynn-Moeckel.
Customers also can help themselves to shrimp from the
seafood-and-soup bar, or they can choose specialties from the
sushi bar, which is staffed every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The store’s traffic pattern is designed to lead shoppers from
floral, at the entrance, through perishables and into the
grocery section, which has brighter lighting and peppier music
than the mellower tones coming from the perishables side. It’s
also easy to navigate. “One of the great things about the
grocery side of the store is that our aisles are wider to
accommodate people so you can actually browse, and if someone’s
coming the other way, you don’t feel like you’re on top of each
other,” Mr. Schrader says.
The grocery side houses a large pharmacy with drive-through; a
bank; a seating area for diners that offers wireless Internet
access; and a Kaldi’s coffee bar, a St. Louis roaster that is a
favorite among locals. It even has a cooler with fresh, gourmet
pet food. The prototype “is a cutting-edge store for us. We’re
trying new things,” shares Ms. Lynn-Moeckel, who has been with
Schnucks for nearly 13 years.
A big part of that innovation is in the floral department, which
greets customers as soon as they walk into the store with a
dazzling panoply of fresh flowers, beautiful home-dÈcor items
and lush plants. “We want our customers to know that they are
walking into a real florist—a real retail florist—inside a
grocery store,” Ms. Lynn-Moeckel says. The look of the
department is key to that goal. “It’s another way to let
[customers] realize, ‘Wow, they’re more than just a place where
I can buy bouquets,’” she says.
The Twin Oaks store achieves that look thanks to upscale
giftware, attractive tables and shelving, and an abundance of
fresh florals, all appealingly displayed in color-blocked
vignettes. “We try to have it merchandised to make a statement,”
says Mr. Schrader, who joined the company earlier this year
after serving as manager/buyer for Botanicals on the Park, a
well-known St. Louis specialty florist and gift company.
The giftware and home-dÈcor line includes birdcages,
candleholders, vases, topiaries, pedestals, candelabra, silk
wreaths and chandeliers at affordable prices. An attractive
artificial artichoke retailed for $4.99 during a recent visit by
Super Floral Retailing, and the pedestal that showcased it was
“We have things at different price points in each display,” Mr.
Schrader says, thereby reaching customers at a variety of income
levels. “They might not be able to afford the $60 or $70 items,
but they might be able to afford the $7 or $8 pieces,” he gives
as an example.
Even the tables and shelves that display products are for sale.
Cindy McCullough, floral manager of the Twin Oaks store, reports
she has sold a couple of tables since the store started carrying
In fact, the entire line has met with an enthusiastic response.
The store sold out its first shipment in 30 days. “It’s selling
very well,” Ms. McCullough says. “People love the new look.”
To find the products customers will respond to, Mr. Schrader,
Ms. Lynn-Moeckel and one or two of Schnucks’ four merchandisers
comb the Atlanta and Dallas gift shows and floral trade shows.
Mr. Schrader says he likes to keep an eye out for new vendors on
the cutting edge who offer “that next hot new trend.”
keys to success
LINE A new home-decor and gift line has added a
sophisticated touch to Schnuck Markets, Inc.’s floral
selections. Customers have responded well, buying out the first
shipment in about a month.
MERCHANDISING Flowers and accessories are attractively
merchandised in color-blocked vignettes, adding interest to the
FRESH FLOWERS Schnucks follows strict cold-chain
guidelines to ensure flower longevity. If customers are unhappy
with their flowers, they get their money back, no questions
EXPERIENCE The company has American Institute of Floral
Designers (AIFD) and FTD Master Designers, and its floral buyer,
design coordinator and four floral merchandisers have a total of
150 years of industry experience.
DESIGN CENTER “Focus on Design,” with a staff of about
30, handles call-in orders, weddings and corporate events. It is
the distribution center for flowers and hard goods for all 98
WEB SITE The floral department is well-publicized on
Schnucks’ Web site,
www.schnucks.com. Customers can order online, learn about
floral services and get gift ideas. There’s even an “Ask the
Adding sophisticated gifts and accessories is more than just a
way for Schnucks to give its floral departments an upscale look.
It’s also about selling more flowers. “We want to get past the
customer looking at [flowers] as an impulse purchase and make it
a daily routine,” Ms. Lynn-Moeckel says.
Adds Mr. Schrader, “We’re trying to teach them that they really
are a necessity. For a developed country, we have one of the
lowest per-capita consumption rates of flowers in the world.”
The new line, coupled with creative merchandising, aims to show
customers how they can pair flowers and accessories to beautify
Schnucks also is making sure floral managers have the skills to
merchandise the products effectively by presenting the new line
at company seminars. “When they feel confident about what
they’re selling, they present it to the customers better,” Ms.
Lynn-Moeckel says. “And then the customers feel better about
what they’re taking home.”
To make sure customers have the skills to keep their flowers
thriving, Schnucks is planning to have public seminars on care
and handling. The classes will benefit both consumers and
Schnucks. “If they knew how to take care of the product, they
would be less hesitant to make a purchase,” Mr. Schrader
expanding floral selection
Schnucks’ floral customers have a wide range of options for
their floral needs. They can choose from consumer bunches and
flowers by the stem to make their own bouquets; ask the floral
staff to make designs for them while they shop; or call in
orders to their favorite store or the company’s design center,
called “Focus on Design.”
A large sign near a display of consumer bunches at the Twin Oaks
store says, “Create Your Own Arrangement. Mix and Match Flowers
from our European Flower Market!” The abundant selection
includes callas, Gerberas, spray mums, tulips, lilies and roses.
One of Mr. Schrader’s goals when he joined Schnucks was to
expand the flower selection, especially to more seasonal and
emerging varieties. “We’re just trying to get our customers
exposed to all the other things that are out there,” he says.
French tulips and Viburnums are two recent examples.
Prices for bouquets and consumer bunches range from $4.99 to
$19.99. “We’re expanding from just an everyday bouquet into more
specialty bouquets,” Ms. Lynn-Moeckel says, “with orchids,
bromeliads and other specialty types of flowers.”
The cooler in the Twin Oaks store is stocked with freshly made
arrangements for customers on the go. Ms. McCullough says
arrangements in her store range from $12 to $100. She and the
staff of four make all the arrangements in her store, but some
stores with fewer employees can order arrangements from the
design center, which serves all 98 floral departments.
Plants also add to the ambience of the floral departments.
Gorgeous seven-bloom hot-pink Hydrangeas, colorful tulips,
vibrant hyacinths and assorted green plants, ranging from $7.99
to $19.99, graced the Twin Oaks store before Easter.
focus on design
Schnuck Markets, Inc.’s design center, “Focus on Design,” is
located in St. Louis, Mo., and has a staff of 30 including 12 to
15 designers and two event coordinators.
The design center services five to six weddings a weekend. Says
Rhonda Lynn-Moeckel, AIFD, design coordinator/trainer, “we are
almost completely booked up through fall.”
The design center also handles corporate and event work. “We’ve
been the exclusive florist for six Senior PGAs in St. Louis as
well as the World Championship of Golf,” Ms. Lynn-Moeckel
Schnucks has strict cold-chain safeguards to keep flowers
lasting longer and customer satisfaction high. The flowers,
which are sourced from a variety of U.S. and global suppliers as
well as local wholesalers, are distributed through the
45,000-square-foot design center. When they arrive, they are put
immediately into one of four large coolers. Flowers destined for
stores are sent there on refrigerated trucks.
The design center also handles weddings and corporate events.
The 12 to 15 designers perform their work in a cool environment
to keep the flowers fresh. “We have customers who come back
again and again because they say the flowers last so long,” Ms.
And they’re also coming back for the new line of giftware and
accessories. So far, four stores have tested the line, with
another eight planned in the first stage.
Gratified by the response from customers, Mr. Schrader declares,
“We’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg as far as where we’re
taking our floral departments.”
the rose experts
Markets, Inc. brands itself as “The Rose Experts,” and roses,
both spray and standard, are its No. 1 cut flower.
“We pride ourselves on carrying the highest-quality roses
available and bringing our customers a large selection,” says
Rhonda Lynn-Moeckel, AIFD, design coordinator/trainer for
Schnucks. “We stand behind a guarantee that if they’re not happy
or they don’t feel that the roses lasted as long as they should,
we replace them without any questions asked.”
In addition, the company educates floral employees on caring for
roses once they arrive in the stores, including processing the
flowers, keeping buckets clean and using the proper amount of
You may reach Cynthia L. McGowan
email@example.com or by phone at (800)
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