Trig’s Floral &
Home engages shoppers and grows
their loyalty and sales.
by Cynthia L.
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
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.
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
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 Yelp.com
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
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
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
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).
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
T.A. Solberg Company
OWNER AND CHAIRMAN
Trygve (Trig) A. Solberg
DIRECTOR OF RETAIL
Five stores in
Wisconsin (Rhinelander, Minocqua, Eagle River,
Wausau and Stevens Point)
70,000 square feet
FLORAL DEPARTMENT SIZE
750 to 3,000 square feet, depending on location
One or two full-time people and two to seven
part-time people per store
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
BIGGEST FLORAL HOLIDAY
FLORAL’S CONTRIBUTION TO
Between 1.2 percent and 2 percent
DIRECTOR OF FLORAL
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
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
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.
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 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
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
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
Trig’s gets the word out about its wedding services
through wedding shows; on its website,
www.trigsfloral.com; 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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
The floral staff gets to know customers and is
trained to meet all their floral needs.
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.