WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. — Tops Friendly Markets celebrated Valentine's Day in floral, and throughout its stores, with a “Sweetheart Express” theme that included special merchandising and promotions.
“Valentine's is like a theme for our stores — Sweetheart Express is what we're calling it for Tops Markets — it's a one-stop shopping for all of customers' cards, flowers, candy, plush gifts, balloons,” said Shawn Oliver, floral buyer and merchandiser.
“And, of course, that's reflected in our ads with the steak, the crab legs, lobster. It's like a whole event going on.”
Oliver told SN that the merchandising in floral reflected everything it did for value and quality. Floral displays will be prominent at the front of the store in addition to the floral department itself.
“We're actually taking over — the whole front part of the store is going to be floral product,” she said.
Long-stemmed rose bouquets have remained a classic over the years, according to Oliver, and she expects them to maintain their popularity this year.
Tops also offered pastel-colored bunches, solid bunches and rainbow bunches, all of which Oliver said she expected to be a trend as well.
Rose bouquets were also featured in the weekly circular with a tag line that read, “There's nothing that says true love more than a single rose bouquet.” Loyalty card shoppers could purchase the bouquets for $24.88.
Grab-and-go convenience with Valentine's Day items are important, Oliver said.
“Ease of customer shopping is huge,” she said. “When it's guys, it's more [important] than anything, because the men aren't like women where they like to take the time and shop around. A lot of the time, they just want to get in, get the presents for their wives or girlfriends and get out, and that's what Tops Markets is offering with this Sweetheart Express.”
In bakery, Tops is featuring message cookies, and children are encouraged to come in and decorate a cookie or a cupcake for their mom or dad for Valentine's Day for $6.99.
“So it's almost like a family event,” Oliver said.
In meat and seafood, Tops ran specials on boneless rib-eye for $6.99 per pound, and ready-cut warm water lobster tails for $12.99 each. Fully cooked, frozen or thawed jumbo king crab legs were featured at $8.99 per pound, and fresh jumbo sea scallops harvested off of Long Island, N.Y., were advertised at $9.99 per pound, or “only $3.75 per 6-ounce serving.” Other specials included salmon filets, asparagus and fresh strawberries.
In addition to specials on items throughout all departments of the store, Tops offered speedy checkouts at the front registers dedicated specifically to Valentine's Day purchases as part of their Sweetheart Express program.
“If someone is coming in and they're thinking Valentine's Day is going to be super hectic and they're not going to be able to get in and out of the store, we have lanes dedicated to or designated for Valentine's Day checkout,” said Tops spokeswoman Kate McKenna.
“Get in, get out — get your flowers, chocolates, whatever you need and then you're able to get out quickly.”
There were scheduled hours for the Sweetheart Express on Saturday and Sunday, with impulse items from all the departments at the front registers as well, Oliver said.
McKenna told SN that she didn't think the recession would affect consumer spending in floral for Valentine's Day.
“I think in general, the economy reflects customers or individuals not taking elaborate vacations and trips and things like that, but when these special events come around, I think that people want to make them really special. Because maybe just in general, people are trying to be a little more economical the rest of the year,” McKenna said.
“So when these one-time events come up, it's really a time to splurge. If you're staying at home and cooking at home instead of going out for a dinner at a restaurant — that's why we put this great ad together with crab legs and seafood and steak and anything you might need to make that really romantic dinner.”