ATLANTA (FNS) -- Floral arrangement fans were able to learn more about the art recently when Illinois-based Jewel-Osco floral designers led free demonstrations at 87 of the food and drug retailer's 186 units.
Jewel-Osco deemed the first-time, in-store design sessions a success, and plans to repeat them, according to Karen Ramos, director of public relations. She said that preliminary results showed that about 1,000 persons attended on Saturday, Sept. 5, which was part of the Labor Day weekend. The demonstrations, held at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., were in all of Jewel-Osco's markets in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Where a market had several units, the demonstration was held at the largest store.
Each session was 30 to 45 minutes long, and was presented by a Jewel-Osco professional floral designer. The floral students, many of whom were Jewel-Osco customers, could ask any questions they wanted as they watched the designer arrange flowers in vases. Other than artistic tips, the students were interested in advice that keeps flowers alive longer, according to one designer who participated in the series. Some tips that she shared on that topic included changing the water every day and recutting the flower stems daily with a sharp knife.
She and other designers also showed their students how to intermingle flowers, which included roses, lilies, carnations, daisies, mums, baby's breath, and greens. Jewel floral departments are full-service venues that make floral arrangements for special occasions, including funerals, weddings, and graduations. According to the company, the departments offer 32 flower varieties that arrive fresh daily from national and international growers from California to Thailand.
Jewel-Osco is not new to opening its stores like a classroom. In the past the chain has offered classes in cooking, such as holiday baking and seafood grilling. According to Mike Spinozzi, vice president of fresh food merchandising, "demonstrations like [floral arranging] are always a lot of fun, and people will learn new techniques for working with fresh flowers."
The company extended the cooking class idea to floral arranging this first time to see if there was an interest in the area, which there was, according to Ramos. But the design class also was tied into Jewel-Osco's one-year anniversary of its highly successful "Three Bouquets for $10 Program," which it launched in September 1997. This program has "greatly increased flower sales," according to Ramos.
To spark interest, Ramos said that Jewel-Osco stores posted signs about the design event in stores two weeks ahead of time, and the floral sales staff also reminded customers of it whenever they purchased flowers. When the event was over, the class attendees received a coupon for a free, clear glass vase suitable for floral arrangements.
Of Jewel-Osco's 186 units, 156 are in combination with Osco Drug. The rest of them are stand-alone units, in which Jewel-Osco does not have floral departments. Jewel also operates 79 stand-alone Osco Drug Stores in Chicago and the Milwaukee area.
Retail sales of the total floral market, including cut flowers, bedding plants, flowering plants and green plants, stands at $14 billion, according to the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del. Of these sales, cut flowers capture just over half.
While retail florists enjoy 49% of total sales, supermarkets have 21%.
Arrangements account for 54%, with bunches and bouquets at 29% of the just under $7 billion retail sales of fresh cut items.
Fresh cut flowers are marketed by more than 84% of supermarkets.
Average sales of a supermarket-operated full service floral department is $197,600 or 1% of total store sales.
May accounts for nearly 11% of annual sales with 21 million people giving flowers for Mother's Day alone.