Downtown goes upscale
Floral helps set the tone at the new Cosentino’s Market in
When a neighborhood deprived of a grocery store for years
finally gets one, it’s a big deal. And when that grocery store
is an upscale supermarket offering gourmet fare and full-service
florals, it’s a cause for celebration.
That’s what Cosentino’s Food Stores found out when
the 24-supermarket company opened a new location in downtown
Kansas City, Mo., in January. Thanks to public-private
revitalization efforts downtown, the population there has
swelled to 17,000 from a few thousand in just five years,
according to the Kansas City Business Journal, and as many as
100,000 workers are in the area during the day. But the area
hadn’t had a grocery store since 1994.
So when Cosentino’s Market Downtown opened its doors
after more than three years of planning, Kansas Citians were
eager to check out the new store. The local newspaper, The
Kansas City Star, and television and radio stations covered the
opening. Bloggers posted their reactions and photos online. The
city manager took part in the opening-day festivities. “I think
everybody in Kansas City came down here,” recalls Tracy
Nelson, Cosentino’s director of floral and produce.
Why was Kansas City so excited? Certainly, the downtown
crowd was happy to get a grocery store. Brian Pitts, a
founder of the Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA), told the
Kansas City Business Journal, “I think the DNA and every
resident of downtown will be very excited about having a grocery
store within walking distance. It makes our lives that much
But the type of grocery store also drew advance buzz, and
that helped draw the crowds, too. In addition to 22
conventional-format grocery stores under the Price Chopper,
Apple Market and Sun Fresh banners in the Kansas City
metropolitan area, the company has another upscale Cosentino’s
Market, which served as the model for the downtown store.
Company Vice President John Cosentino also visited
supermarkets around the nation, searching out the latest
innovations and amenities for the new store. The result is a joy
for both flower lovers and foodies alike.
cosentino's food stores
HEADQUARTERS Kansas City, Mo.
24, under four banners: Cosentino’s Market (two); Price
Chopper (16); Apple Market (four); and Sun Fresh (two), all
in the Kansas City metropolitan area
YEAR FOUNDED 1948
The Cosentino’s Market Downtown is 34,000 square feet
FLORAL DEPARTMENT SIZE
Varies; the Cosentino’s Market Downtown floral department is
about 400 square feet
About 160 at the Cosentino’s Market Downtown
One full-time floral manager at the Cosentino’s Market
Downtown, with part-time help
Varies by store; the Cosentino’s Market Downtown has a
full-service floral department offering custom design,
wedding, FTD flowers-by-wire (outgoing orders only) and
DIRECTOR OF FLORAL AND PRODUCE
FLORAL MANAGER, COSENTINO’S MARKET DOWNTOWN
worth the wait
The hip store
perfectly complements its surroundings, a new shopping and
entertainment area called the Power & Light District. The store
occupies a prime spot on a corner, and a wrap-around glass
facade gives passers-by a great view into the bustling store and
especially of its colorful florals, enticing them to come in and
get a closer look.
Inside, visitors are greeted by 34,000 square feet of
sensory delights. Burgundy and golden-tan hues, murals on the
walls and ceiling, gleaming hardwood floors and wrought-iron
light fixtures, all designed to evoke a Tuscany ambience, set
the tone for a unique shopping experience.
At the immediate entrance, the floral department’s
bountiful selection of bouquets, consumer bunches, blooming and
foliage plants, arrangements, and gift baskets are tastefully
presented on wood nesting tables and copper-colored shelving and
in an open cooler. A half-moon-shaped floral counter is in the
center of the
rectangular department, allowing Floral Manager Jody McCauley
to design arrangements in full view of customers. Behind the
counter but easily accessible are tall, graceful Dendrobium
A blazing wood-fired brick pizza oven also catches
customers’ attention when they enter, drawing the lunch and
dinner crowd to the huge prepared-foods area in the center of
the store. The selection includes chicken spiedini, blackened
salmon, Kung Pao tofu and much more, and customers can take
their choices to go or eat them in one of two dining areas in
the store. The dining areas, featuring comfortable, stylish
furniture and flat-screen televisions, can seat as many as 180
people, and Mr. Nelson reports they are full at lunchtime.
Cosentino’s customers also can dine at the sushi bar or
create salads from the 80-foot-long salad bar. The gourmet
bakery’s offerings include scrumptious cakes, tarts, cookies,
artisanal chocolates and fancy candies. In addition, discerning
shoppers can choose from specialty cheeses, gelato made in the
store, fresh seafood and local produce when available.
meeting floral needs
In floral, shares Ms.
McCauley, “We offer everything.” That includes custom designs,
FTD flowers-by-wire service for outgoing orders, wedding
services and delivery to anywhere in the Kansas City area. Ms.
McCauley, who was a designer for seven years in a traditional
retail florist before joining the new store, is in the
department full time five days a week, and an associate from
another department takes over the other two days.
The new floral department is building its wedding business
and, at press time, had two in the works, handling all the
florals plus setup and delivery for the first, and the reception
for the second. It is letting potential brides know about
wedding services through word-of-mouth. “This store is designed
to provide catering,” Mr. Nelson comments, and more wedding and
event business “will follow suit with that,” he predicts.
Although customers can have floral arrangements and custom
gift baskets made while they shop, Ms. McCauley says, gift
baskets have received the biggest share of that specialized
service. Customers enjoy picking out items from Cosentino’s
large array of gourmet goodies for their personalized gift
baskets and continue shopping while Ms. McCauley works her
creative magic. She reports a recent custom basket sold for
$200. The department also has available a selection of
ready-made gift baskets with a variety of gourmet and pampering
products for as much as $69.99.
keys to success
The beautiful floral department at Cosentino’s Market
Downtown draws customers in with a vibrant selection of
colorful florals. The department changes its look to keep
customer excitement up, and cross-merchandising also brings
attention to the products.
The store offers full-service florals including custom
designs and delivery. The floral manager had seven years of
experience at a traditional retail florist before joining
Cosentino’s, so she has the knowledge needed to serve
Floral products are date-coded for freshness. The department
has learned that customers want smaller products for their
offices and cubicles and has responded with items that meet
focus on quality
The flowers in the
department look fresh and vibrant, and the foliage on the plants
is glossy and green. Cosentino’s primary floral supplier,
retailer-owned cooperative Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc.
(AWG), of Kansas City, Kan., date-codes its floral products,
and Ms. McCauley is careful to pull anything that looks past its
prime. Confirms Mr. Nelson, “Quality is the key” to attracting
and retaining customers.
Ms. McCauley places orders two weeks in advance with AWG,
and deliveries are made twice a week. She also orders floral
items that the department needs in smaller quantities from local
wholesalers, and those deliveries are made as many as four days
Best-selling items are bouquets and plants, Ms. McCauley
shares. The top-selling bouquets feature a mixture of flowers
and range in price from $4.99 to $10.99. Shoppers also can find
more upscale bouquets—a huge “California Bouquet of the Week”
featuring lilies, roses, spray mums, Alstroemerias,
statice and carnations sells for $15.99—as well as dozen-rose
bouquets for $12.99.
There are also grower bunches—recent selections included
tulips and Gerberas at $7.99 for a 10-stem bunch—and a “three
for $12” consumer-bunch program featuring sunflowers, Irises,
Gerberas, Alstroemerias, callas, spider mums,
Eucalyptus, Hypericum and more.
Arrangements are in the cooler for customers to grab and
go. Ms. McCauley says smaller, single-bloom designs do best in
her store, but she does have an assortment of fuller designs for
customers who need them. She also will make whatever shoppers
want. “A customer called and asked for a puppy dog bouquet,” Ms.
McCauley recalls. The cute design, which the customer had seen
online, was composed of mums arranged in the shape of a Scottish
terrier. Ms. McCauley got the Web address from the customer,
printed it out for reference, created the design and delivered
it to the happy customer. To let other customers see the
possibilities, Ms. McCauley now keeps the puppy design in the
cooler with a retail price of $24.99.
In plants, the department has found that 4-inch products,
with which shoppers can adorn their desks or give to co-workers,
do well. Bonsai products and lucky bamboo are particular
favorites, Ms. McCauley reports, selling for $9.99 for 4-inch
plants in attractive ceramic containers. In addition, the
department has a large selection of both blooming and foliage
plants, including assorted herbs for $3.99 each; 41⁄2-inch
Begonias and African violets for $5.99 each; 6-inch
Gardenias and callas for $13.99; lush 6-inch azaleas for
$23.99; and beautiful orchids for $24.99. Dish gardens with
Dracaena marginata, Pothos, ‘Moon Valley’ Pilea, ivy and
fern come in three sizes, selling for $23.99, $31.99 and $40.99.
building the department
Continuing to meet
customers’ needs will help the department establish trust with
customers and gain more business. Mr. Nelson acknowledges that
“there are certain departments, when you open a new store, that
you have to build on. In floral, you have to build that
Through trial and error, Mr. Nelson and Ms. McCauley are
learning what works and doesn’t work with their new clientele
and store. When the store first opened, Mr. Nelson reveals, the
department stocked only higher-end bouquets, with no price
points below $9.99. Customers didn’t respond, and a broader mix
was brought in, with better results.
The large windows that spotlight the florals have posed
their own challenges. Although the western-facing windows are a
great draw for the floral department—“People walk by and say,
‘Whoa,’ and stop and look,” Ms. McCauley comments—they also
allow a lot of sun to shine on the fresh fare, reducing its
shelf life. To compensate, Ms. McCauley now orders flowers and
plants in smaller quantities and more often. The store also is
considering putting up blinds or tinting the windows to reduce
the sun exposure.
large customer base
In the meantime, the
new floral department is getting the word out through bag
stuffers, the company Web site and e-mail. “We can shoot out
e-mails to thousands,” Mr. Nelson remarks, allowing for an easy
way to let customers know about floral specials and upcoming
In addition, Ms. McCauley cross-merchandises florals,
putting bouquets at the checkout and orchid plants in the
store’s huge wine and spirits department. The department also
gets more space during holidays.
As in most grocery stores, impulse sales generate most of
the floral department’s revenues, and Ms. McCauley has a large
base of customers to tap into. “This store is one of the highest
foot-traffic stores we have,” Mr. Nelson informs. “Every week
has from 19,000 to 20,000.”
That success is a testament to the quality and service
Kansas Citians have found at their new Cosentino’s Market.
Confirms Ms. McCauley, “It’s 20 years past due.”
Reach Editor in Chief Cynthia L. McGowan at
email@example.com or (800) 355-8086.