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store profile

Connecting with customers

Trig’s Floral & Home engages shoppers and grows
their loyalty and sales.

  by Cynthia L. McGowan

     The floral operation at Trig’s Supermarkets, based in Minocqua, Wis., knows how to connect with customers. Using both high-tech means such as Facebook, Twitter and its website, as well as more tried-and-true methods including inviting departments, excellent service, compelling products and in-store events, Trig’s Floral & Home creates an exciting shopping experience for new and loyal customers.

     “We strive to make our stores be the place where people want to shop,” describes Sandy Buss, Trig’s director of floral operations. Toward that end, the large, beautifully merchandised floral departments feature coolers full of flowers-by-the-stem and arrangements, buckets of colorful bouquets, and a huge assortment of home décor and giftware items. One of the departments even has a coffee shop where customers can sip lattes while they peruse the floral selections.

customer-friendly departments

     Outstanding service departments are one key to helping Trig’s Supermarkets stand out from the competition, Ms. Buss comments. The five stores, operated by family-owned T.A. Solberg Company, Inc., have baked-from-scratch bakeries, full-service meat counters with a smokehouse and delis with complete meals-to-go. The Cellar 70 wine-and-spirits departments have thousands of varieties of wine in stock and experts on staff to help customers make their selections.

     The company has shown its commitment to floral through the allocation of resources and space, Ms. Buss remarks. The floral operation has its own brand, Trig’s Floral & Home, and its own logo. During store construction or remodeling, “Floral is a high priority,” she says.

     Each department boasts one or two full-time designers, with two to seven part-time helpers. In three of the stores, the floral departments range from about 750 to 2,000 square feet. The other two are 3,000-square-foot stand-alone shops inside malls where Trig’s Supermarkets are the anchors. The grocery stores near the stand-alone shops offer cash-and-carry bouquets and seasonal products.

     The Minocqua stand-alone shop reopened after a remodeling in February, and the full-service coffee shop was included in the design out of concern for the fewer number of daily shoppers the floral operation would be exposed to. “We wanted something that would bring a lot of daily foot traffic into the floral department,” Ms. Buss says, “and the coffee shop does that, as well as additional sales.”

     The floral department operates the coffee shop, and while customers wait for or sip their drinks, they browse the selections and enjoy the free wireless Internet. “It’s been working out really well,” Ms. Buss remarks.

making shoppers happy

     The other key to Trig’s success, Ms. Buss reveals, is excellent service. “We strive to be the No. 1 service-oriented store in the markets we serve,” she comments.

     The company emphasizes each employee’s role in making customers happy. “We empower people as much as we can,” to handle customer questions, Ms. Buss explains, rather than having to say, “I’ll have to check with my manager on that.”

     That emphasis on service apparently is noticed by customers, as this review about Trig’s on reveals: “Obviously, this company is doing something right as I have NEVER encountered a cranky employee yet. ‘Must love to laugh and smile’ must be on their employment application.”

talented staff

     The floral staff embodies the attitude lauded in the review, Ms. Buss says. “The people in our departments are probably the biggest asset we have,” she remarks, calling them talented, experienced, loyal and dedicated. “They know their jobs, and they do them really well.”

     They interact well with customers, establishing connections and loyalty. “They know their customers well, and that’s the case in all of the locations,” Ms. Buss emphasizes.

     Competitive wages and benefits have helped the company attract and retain a high-quality staff, Ms. Buss reveals. Further, “When you have a certain quality of people already working in your stores, it tends to draw more quality to you.”

     To keep their design skills up to date, Trig’s encourages the floral staff to take advantage of training opportunities. For example, several recently attended a wedding class offered by the Wisconsin and Upper Michigan Floral Association (WUMFA).

full-service florals

     The staff offers a full range of floral services, from designs made while customers shop to funerals, events and weddings (See “Trig’s Wedding Business”). “We don’t let the fact that we’re a ‘grocery store florist’ limit us at all,” Ms. Buss informs. “We’ve always felt, ‘Let’s just be the best florist in town.’”

     Trig’s also offers in-home decorating consultation services, often for holidays. Pat Mulleady, the assistant floral director, usually conducts the consultations, meeting in the clients’ homes to assess their needs and see the space and colors. The consultation fee varies with the amount of work involved; if it is an extensive project, the fee is waived.

     Each department has its own delivery van sporting the Trig’s Floral & Home logo. Some stores average as many as 10 floral deliveries a day. The fees can range from $8 for delivery in town ($5 to hospitals) to as much as $35 for a 40-mile delivery.


trig's supermarket


T.A. Solberg Company
OWNER AND CHAIRMAN Trygve (Trig) A. Solberg
PRESIDENT Lee Guenther
LOCATIONS Five stores in Wisconsin (Rhinelander, Minocqua, Eagle River, Wausau and Stevens Point)
STORE SIZE Averages 70,000 square feet
FLORAL DEPARTMENT SIZE 750 to 3,000 square feet, depending on location
FLORAL EMPLOYEES One or two full-time people and two to seven part-time people per store
FLORAL SERVICES Full-service florals including custom designs, weddings, funerals, home consultations and delivery; flowers-by-wire service through Flower Shop Network
BIGGEST FLORAL EVENT Yearly bedding plant sale
FLORAL’S CONTRIBUTION TO COMPANY SALES Between 1.2 percent and 2 percent

favorite flowers and plants

     Customers’ favorite floral item is a dozen-rose bouquet, at $12.99 each. Monobotanical Gerbera, Alstroemeria and lily bouquets also sell well, as does the “Seasonal Surge” bouquet from California for $14.99, in which the flowers change weekly. The floral managers order cut flowers from local wholesalers, receiving deliveries about four times a week.

     Shoppers enjoy choosing from the flowers-by-the stem program in the walk-in coolers in four of the five stores. The selection includes roses for $2.49, Gerberas for $2.29, Irises for $1.99, sunflowers from $1.99 to $2.49 and Oriental lilies for $4.99.

     There usually are about 20 arrangements in each cooler for customers to grab and go, with prices ranging from $15 to $75. Shoppers also can ask the floral designers to create arrangements with flowers they choose from the stem program, with the prices ranging from $12 for a bud vase to $75 for a large design.

     Plants, from local growers, include 10-inch hardy garden mums in terra-cotta-style pots. “It’s an awesome deal,” Ms. Buss confides. “They are huge and very popular.” “Gorgeous” 10-inch geraniums for $14.99 sold well this spring.

     Trig’s usually has large permanent designs in each of the shops for the wow effect. Most permanent flowers are sold by the stem and in custom designs. Stems range from 99 cents to $8.99, and custom designs average $40 to $50 but sometimes sell for as much as $400.

exciting giftware

     An extensive giftware and home décor selection also helps to create customer excitement. The products include tabletop items, linens, rugs, furniture, lamps, scarves, candles and more. Ms. Buss and Ms. Mulleady travel to the Atlanta gift market every January and buy for the entire year. “We pick themes based on what sold well the year before and what we’re seeing that’s new and trendy,” she remarks.

     The departments’ looks and products change seasonally, with customers eagerly awaiting the new products. “We’re starting to sell out of some of our Halloween merchandise in Minocqua already,” Ms. Buss said in August.

     Shoppers also look forward to Trig’s customer appreciation sale, in which all the home décor and other hard goods are 20 percent off. The sale occurs before a major reset to make way for the new merchandise.


trig's wedding business


     Trig’s Floral & Home has a thriving wedding business, with some stores servicing a wedding almost every weekend in the summer. Prices can range from $300 to $1,000, offers Sandy Buss, floral director.

     Ms. Buss has noticed two trends in weddings: more last-minute brides and more do-it-yourself (DIY) weddings. For example, a recent customer asked for a bridal bouquet, corsages and boutonnieres within an hour.

     She also recently had a DIY bride who bought $1,000 worth of flowers, all in buckets. Trig’s is in a perfect position to capitalize on that profitable trend, she reports: The floral shops have the products brides need and trained staff to answer their questions.

     Trig’s gets the word out about its wedding services through wedding shows; on its website,; and through Facebook. A happy bride recently posted photos of her wedding flowers on Trig’s Facebook page and wrote, “Thank you so much for the beautiful flowers you did for my wedding last weekend. I could not have been happier.”


compelling events

     Events like the customer appreciation sale help Trig’s build excitement about its products and connect with customers. One of the biggest events is Trig’s annual one-day bedding plant sale in the spring. “We get in truckloads of hanging baskets and perennials and annuals and flats, and we blow it out,” Ms. Buss describes.

     The sale is so anticipated that in one location, more than 100 people waited in line this year for it to start. “We have people who come in and spend $300 to $400,” Ms. Buss reveals. Hanging baskets of geraniums, Fuchsias or Wave petunias, at $10.99 each, are the top-selling items; some stores sell as many as 3,000. “It’s an awesome event,” Ms. Buss confirms.

     Trig’s also has a “Girls Night Out” to let customers know they are appreciated and to introduce new products in a fun, informal setting. The stores offer giveaways, special discounts, free tote bags, food samples and beverages from Cellar 70.

     In addition, customers can take periodic design classes, with a fee covering the costs of materials. The classes have included designs for both adults and children.

savvy marketing

     Ms. Buss uses Facebook and Twitter to get the word out about events, sales, new products and work the floral departments are proud of. To save time, her Facebook and Twitter accounts are synchronized, so whatever she posts on one goes to the other. “It’s a nice way of communicating with the customers and letting them know what’s going on, on a more up-to-date basis,” she comments.

     In addition, the floral department’s website,, offers extensive information about Trig’s services and allows customers to place orders. Ms. Buss says the website enables the department to reach out-of-town customers and those who prefer to conduct business online.

     Other marketing activities include a bimonthly newsletter, a “Frequent Flower Card” that gives a discount on bouquets after a certain amount is spent and decorating for local home tours.

customer appreciation

     Ms. Buss says she feels fortunate to work for a company that shows its commitment to floral in so many ways. “I can’t even begin to say how lucky I feel, with the people we have, the associates, our floral associates, the department managers, the designers,” she enthuses. “They’re really topnotch.”

     Ms. Buss and her team, in turn, provide the service, quality and products that keep customers coming back and raving about Trig’s Floral & Home. “We get compliments every single day,” she describes. Customers say, “‘I’ve never been in a grocery store that has this kind of a floral department,’ or ‘I can’t believe what you guys have here.’ Every day we hear it.”


keys to success


Trig’s Floral & Home, the floral operation of Trig’s Supermarkets, offers a wide variety of fresh flowers and plants as well as an extensive selection of enticing giftware.

CUSTOMER SERVICE The floral staff gets to know customers and is trained to meet all their floral needs.

EVENTS Customers look forward to Trig’s sales events, “Girls Night Out” and floral design classes.

GETTING THE WORD OUT Trig’s uses Facebook, Twitter, its website, a newsletter and the company’s weekly advertising circular to tell customers about its florals.


Reach Editor in Chief Cynthia L. McGowan at
or (800) 355-8086.

Photos courtesy of Trig's Supermarkets.

Super Floral Retailing •• Copyright 2010
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.