Call us at 1-800-355-8086

store profile
          
Floral excitement at Reasor's


15-store Oklahoma chain showcases a flair for innovation at its newest location.
     by Cynthia L. McGowan

    When people both inside and outside of Reasor’s talk about the 15-store grocery chain’s newest location and its floral department, they use the words “fresh,” “new” and “exciting” a lot. That’s because the department is 2,300 square feet of floral innovations, with colorful products, enticing merchandising and excellent service, all carefully designed to get customers enthused about its flowers.

    Reasor’s, an employee-owned company located in northeastern Oklahoma, opened the new store in the Tulsa suburb of Jenks in June. The 82,000-square-foot, 320-employee store, the company’s largest, replaced a nearby location that was 30,000 square feet smaller and had 160 fewer employees.

    The store’s director, Eric Neel, told the Tulsa World newspaper, “We really think this is the nicest grocery store in the state. We did a lot of research, and we’ve got everything here.”

    By “everything,” Mr. Neel is referring to the upscale store’s huge food-service area, which offers a meat-carving station, a sushi bar, a burrito bar, brick-oven pizza, a salad bar, an in-store dining area, an expanded bakery that creates gourmet treats in-house, and more. A seafood expert from Seattle, Wash., makes sure the fish selection is fresh. The large produce department brims with an inviting selection of fresh fruits and vegetables.


 
 

reasor's inc.


 


HEADQUARTERS
Tahlequah, Okla.
OWNERSHIP Employee-owned
PRESIDENT  
Jeff Reasor
STORES 15, all in northeastern Oklahoma, under the Reasor’s and Reasor’s Food Warehouse banners
SALES $330.1 million in fiscal year 2008, according to Hoovers, Inc.
YEAR FOUNDED 1963
AVERAGE STORE SIZE 72,000 to 80,000 square feet
EMPLOYEES 3,000
FLORAL DEPARTMENT SIZE Varies; the newest store’s floral department, in Jenks, Okla., is 2,300 square feet
FLORAL EMPLOYEES On average, 21⁄2 per store
FLORAL SERVICES Full-service floral departments offering custom design, wedding, sympathy and FTD flowers-by-wire services
BIGGEST FLORAL HOLIDAY Valentine’s Dayan>
VICE PRESIDENT, PRODUCE AND FLORAL OPERATIONS Mark Faust
DIRECTOR OF FLORAL Ken Tirpak
WEB SITE
www.reasors.com
 


 

floral sets the tone
    The full-service floral department is at the front, near the center, of the new store. Mark Faust, Reasor’s vice president of produce and floral operations, says that’s where most of Reasor’s floral departments are located. “We view floral as a very important part of creating the atmosphere as well as the quality image and the freshness image” for the company, he describes.

    In Jenks, the beautiful floral department helps set the freshness and quality image with a huge assortment of colorful florals that grab customers’ attention. Nesting tables and wooden crates hold a large array of pretty potted Phalaenopsis orchids and bold bromeliads. Clear glass cylinders full of single stems entice customers to choose flowers to mix and match, and signage encourages them to take their selections to the nearby “wrap station” for their own personalized, hand-tied bouquets, created at no extra cost.

    Track lighting enhances a wall of bouquets inside a cooler that has 125 self-watering buckets and shelves full of upscale floral arrangements featuring such flowers as Proteas, ornamental kale and Celosia. The cooler itself is an innovation—its curves mirror an overhang in the department and have inspired the company to call it “The Wave.”

    One of the focuses of the new department and of Reasor’s floral operation in general is to get customers to buy flowers for every day, not just for special occasions. “You do that by developing new products and new merchandising techniques and skills,” offers Mr. Faust.

    Toward that end, the floral operation is showcasing mass displays of products, often grouped by color, with the aim of giving customers an immediate impression of freshness. “It just jumps at you,” describes Ken Tirpak, director of floral.

    And customers are responding as hoped to the new department. One shopper at the opening enthused, “You can close your eyes and smell the freshness of the flowers and the plants.” Confirms Mr. Tirpak: “They’re totally amazed at what we’ve done here.”


exciting products
    In choosing the product selection, Mr. Faust says, Reasor’s focuses on “exciting customers about something they haven’t necessarily seen before.” For example, the floral operation has added hand-tied bouquets to its selection and expanded both the single-stem and consumer-bunch programs to include novelty flowers such as 70-centimeter roses, Hydrangeas, callas, Gerberas, kangaroo paws, larkspurs and Delphiniums. All the flowers in the three-for-$12 bunch program come from Florverde®-certified farms in Colombia.

    The hand-tied bouquets and single stems are among the new department’s biggest draws, Mr. Tirpak confides, especially among women. “People really get excited when they see something different,” he remarks.

    Favorites in bouquets, which sell for as high as $29.99 for 30-stem selections, include a signature combination of roses and Alstroemerias; dozen roses; and a blend of callas and roses. “We also do a lot with Hydrangeas,” Mr. Tirpak says.

    Blooming plants are also high-performers, especially orchids. Customers are discovering their longevity and affordability, turning them into a growth area for Reasor’s. The floral operation displays them along with its orchid bouquets for a beautiful and eye-catching presentation.

    Other favorite blooming plants include azaleas, Hydrangeas, roses and callas. Foliage plants also have a presence, with the department merchandising select varieties in mass displays.

    Much of the company’s floral products are supplied by retailer-owned cooperative Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. (AWG) - Oklahoma City Division, with the rest coming direct from suppliers and wholesalers. AWG delivers flowers and plants three times a week to the 15 floral departments, whose managers order from a guide prepared by Mr. Tirpak. Programs are planned a year in advance.

    Vonnie Jones, floral coordinator and buyer at AWG’s Oklahoma City Division, applauds Reasor’s for its willingness to try new programs in its floral departments. “If it’s new, it’s going to be there,” she describes. “They are so outside the box. It’s not so much about the price point with them as it is about quality and unique [products].”
 

 

keys to success


 
 


MERCHANDISING Reasor’s newest store, in Jenks, Okla., showcases its florals in mass, colorful displays that capture customers’ attention and draw them into the department.

SERVICE All but one of the 15 Reasor’s locations offer full-service florals featuring custom design, sympathy and wedding services. The Jenks location has a “wrap station,” where shoppers can have bouquets created from their selections on the spot. Customers also can have arrangements made while they shop.

PRODUCTS
The emphasis at Reasor’s is on “fresh,” and products are date-coded for maximum longevity. Customers can find a wide range of florals from single stems to bouquets to arrangements.
 


 

ensuring freshness
    In addition to offering high-quality products, the company takes steps to ensure customers’ selections have maximum life. “If it looks good going out, that’s great,” Mr. Faust explains, “but it has to look good a few days later as well.”

    That’s why, Mr. Tirpak says, “We’re on a strict code-dating policy. We follow that to the ‘T’.” All cut flowers are processed under water, and most of the stores’ bouquet cases are self-watering. In addition, floral managers are responsible for walking their departments every day and culling any products past their prime.

    Confirms Ms. Jones, “I think the success of their program is that they keep it fresh,” adding that it is a big factor in keeping customers coming back. “Their repeat business is awesome.”

support for floral
    Corporate support and training are an important part of making sure that Reasor’s freshness and customer service standards are met. In addition to Mr. Faust and Mr. Tirpak, two merchandisers help carry out the corporate floral strategies at the store level. The merchandisers “interface with the floral managers and store managers and give us feedback on what they see,” Mr. Faust describes.

    All new floral employees go through FTD University training, and after that, they are paired with stronger managers for on-the-job training. Part of that education is learning the Reasor’s culture. “Our company mission is to be the best place to work and the best place to shop,” Mr. Faust explains. “So our culture goal is just that.”

    Happy employees will reward the company with good performance, Reasor’s believes, and will offer shoppers excellent customer service. Ms. Jones says Reasor’s culture inspires its employees to higher levels. “They go the extra mile, and they want to go the extra mile,” she exclaims. “There’s something about the philosophy that the Reasor’s stores have that inspires their people to work hard and really go after it.”

getting the word out
    Shoppers reward the company’s service and high-quality products with their return business and positive word-of-mouth advertising, which is how most people learn about the floral operation. The new store apparently has people talking, Mr. Faust reports. “They’re telling their friends about it, and we’re seeing them come back in,” he says.

    Weekly newspaper advertising as well as radio and television spots during the holidays also help get the word out about Reasor’s flowers. “We invest some time and effort into media as well as rely on customers to tell our story,” Mr. Faust comments.

    Although Mr. Faust declined to share floral’s contribution toward company sales, he did say that Reasor’s is above the national average. That success, and Reasor’s floral expansion during a recession, is a testament to the power of corporate support, innovative merchandising, fresh products and well-trained employees. As Ms. Jones says, “Reasor’s doesn’t want to follow the pack; they want to lead it.”


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

Special thanks to Vonnie Jones, floral coordinator and buyer at Associated Wholesale Grocers - Oklahoma City Division, for providing some of the information for this article.

Photos courtesy of Bill Dungan, photo director; Reasor’s

Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2009
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.