Call us at 1-800-355-8086
Store Profile

A plan for victory

Albertsons store in Weatherford, Texas, wins the 2006 “Merchandising Award of Excellence” contest.

by Cynthia L. McGowan

Lisa Tapp is a planner. Ms. Tapp, the floral manager at Albertsons No. 4176 in Weatherford, Texas, maps out her promotions far in advance. She thought up her 2006 Valentine’s Day display as she was working on her 2005 promotion, and her resulting “City of Love” creation won the grand award in the 2006 “Merchandising Award of Excellence” contest, sponsored by Super Floral Retailing and Bˆrgen Systems.
Ms. Tapp says she is constantly thinking about how to merchandise her floral offerings. “One night I woke up in the middle of the night” with the idea for the City of Love, she says. As the year went by, she kept thinking of different ideas for her promotion, and by the time she was ready to build the display, “I already had it all planned out in my head.”
Her huge display, which featured a “flower shop” made of Coca-Cola 12-packs nestled within the backdrop of a city skyline and even included a store employee dressed as King Kong, wowed not only shoppers but also the judges of the “Merchandising Award of Excellence” contest. For her victory, she was presented the Bˆrgen Cup by Arden Bˆrgen, founder of Bˆrgen Systems, during the Keynote Breakfast at The Super Floral Show in June in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she received a standing ovation. Her prize also included airfare to the show and hotel accommodations.
Albertsons, LLC
STORES 660, as of press time; Albertsons has announced plans to close 125
OWNER Investment group led by Cerberus Capital Management; company is part of the January 2006 deal that split Albertsons Inc. into three parts; Supervalu bought 1,100 stores and CVS acquired 700
CEO Robert Miller
STORES’ AVERAGE SIZE 56,000 to 63,000 square feet
FLORAL SERVICES Full-service floral departments, with custom designs, weddings and funerals; some offer delivery
FLORAL CATEGORY MANAGER, Dallas/Fort Worth Division, Debora Coleman
FLORAL MANAGER, Weatherford, Texas, Lisa Tapp


signature event
Ms. Tapp is known among her customers and fellow employees for her exciting merchandising displays, especially at Valentine’s Day, her signature promotion. “Everybody stops by and asks, ‘What are you doing this year?’” she says. “They really get enjoyment out of it.”
Shoppers were wowed by this year’s promotion, Ms. Tapp reports. “I had a lot of people walking in and saying, ‘Whoa!’” when they saw the display, she says, which filled a 400-square-foot area reserved for special promotions. Shoppers entered the City of Love’s flower shop through a huge heart-shaped arch decorated with twinkling lights, where they were greeted by singing plush gorillas, one on each side of the heart. An “Empire State Building,” made of Coke 12-packs and with a posterboard King Kong climbing up the side, served as the display’s centerpiece.
Coke 12-packs also served as the shop’s walls, which had three awning-covered windows that let customers see products from both inside and outside the display. Throughout the display, shoppers were treated to a huge assortment of merchandise including bouquets, arrangements, blooming plants, candy, baked goods and much more.
Overhead, an assortment of balloons, cut-out clouds and airplanes added movement and interest. The far walls of the display had silhouettes of skyscrapers to complete the City of Love theme.
The King Kong idea came to Ms. Tapp when she took her granddaughter to see the movie. The “live action” Kong appeared at the store the day before Valentine’s Day along with Kong’s “Beauty,” another store employee who dressed up for the role. Beauty helped customers, but Kong was there more for entertainment. Customers loved the character, especially children. “Even the bosses thought it was just too cute,” Ms. Tapp says.
The promotion was a huge success, Ms. Tapp says. “We sold nearly everything. I had hardly anything left.”

Keys to Success
MERCHANDISING Albertsons stresses the importance of merchandising to boost sales and offers in-house contests to increase employees’ skills and enthusiasm.
FRESH PRODUCTS Albertsons’ corporate buying program enables it to buy a wide variety of products at low prices. Deliveries are made to the stores at least three times a week.
SERVICE Many of the floral employees have a background in floral and offer products and designs that customers want. Stores will design arrangements while customers shop.
TRAINING Albertsons offers group sessions with well-known designers to show store florists cutting-edge designs.


marks of a winner
Ms. Tapp’s display had all the elements that go into a winning display including:
SIGNAGE Signage was easy to read, abundant and looked professionally made. A huge banner over the top of the display said “City of Love” and served to direct customers to the promotion. Signage gave price points and product information. Much of the signage was printed on paper that had a cloud motif and matched “clouds” that Ms. Tapp had positioned over the display.
CROSS-MERCHANDISING In addition to Coca-Cola products, the promotion featured many items from other parts of the store including greeting cards, perfumes, bakery items, Little Debbie snacks and candy.
COLOR HARMONY Befitting a Valentine’s Day display, the dominant color was red. The Coca-Cola 12-packs were the perfect color to serve as the foundation of the display, and the signage, backdrops, props and product selection coordinated well together.
STAND-ALONE DISPLAYS The promotion had several merchandisers that were well-organized and effectively presented. The “Empire State Building” centerpiece served as a stand-alone display, and it was surrounded by arrangements, plants, balloons and gift baskets.
PROPS The props in the display added excitement, whimsy, and in some cases, sales. The singing plush gorillas at the entrances sold out. The posterboard Kong tied the display into pop culture, and the live-action Kong added even more interest. Ms. Tapp made airplanes from corrugated board and covered them with aluminum foil. They hung from the ceiling and looked as if they were pulling the giant banner that proclaimed the City of Love. She wrote the store number on the bottom of the wings.
PRODUCTS In addition to the cross-merchandised items, the display offered a huge array of fresh and silk floral items. Products included dozen and half-dozen rose arrangements, mixed arrangements, silk rose arrangements, gift baskets, plants and plant baskets, and bouquets. Prices for arrangements ranged from $19.99 to $79.99.
A new item Ms. Tapp offered this year was a big hit. She took small, heart-decorated bags and filled each with a half-size Coca-Cola can and candy. She decorated them with curly ribbon and sold them for $3.99. They were popular as gifts for teachers and children, and “I was selling them as fast as I could make them,” Ms. Tapp reports.
The floral department also took custom orders, and that’s where Ms. Tapp’s planning skills came in especially handy. She made all the arrangements in the display as well as the custom orders, using no ready-made arrangements, with the help of the department’s only other full-time employee, floral clerk Maria Castaneda.
“We have a system,” Ms. Tapp says. Before the holiday, they put greens in vases and foam in baskets and had them ready in the cooler. “You wouldn’t believe how much that helps,” she says.
Most of the custom orders were placed by shoppers already in the store, and the rest, about 20 percent, were phone orders. Ms. Tapp says she often will design arrangements for customers while they are shopping.

working ahead
Building the display also took planning and organization. In December, Ms. Tapp started making the city backdrop out of cardboard boxes. She photocopied the “windows” in different colors and stapled them to the boxes.
Ms. Tapp also made the nonfresh products such as the gift baskets early so all she had to do was put them out at the right time, about 2.5 weeks before Valentine’s Day. About a week before the holiday, the Coca-Cola vendors stacked the 12-packs for the shop. Ms. Tapp and Ms. Castaneda made the heart entrance out of empty 12-packs and covered it with red table roll.
It was a lot of work, but Ms. Tapp believes in the power of merchandising. “I’m known for making these displays, but that’s how I’m going to sell my product better,” she says. “Because if you just stick something out, people will buy, but I don’t think they’ll buy as much.”

offering quality
Ms. Tapp has been with Albertsons for nearly five years. She previously worked for an independent florist for 2.5 years, and before that, she was with another grocery store floral department for 11 years. She strongly believes in offering high-quality florals and countering any negative perception some people may have about supermarket florists. “I want customers to think they can come in here and get florist-quality flowers,” she says.
She offers a wide variety of floral products that keep her customers coming back week after week, including clients who followed her from her previous shop. She enjoys hearing from loyal customers who greet her with, “Hey Lisa! What do you have today?”
Although Ms. Tapp’s store was one of the 660 purchased by Cerberus Capital Management Inc. in the sale of Albertsons Inc., floral procurement will remain through Supervalu Inc., the company that bought the majority of Albertsons stores. The corporate buying program keeps costs down for consumers while offering a broad selection of products.
With more than 1,700 stores in both corporate entities to supply, the procurement program gets products from many vendors including growers from California, South America and Holland. Ms. Tapp’s store is in Albertsons’ Dallas/Fort Worth region, where vendors ship their products to a distribution center. From there, products are shipped to stores three times a week. Local floral managers like Ms. Tapp order what they need from corporate, and they get plants and special orders from local suppliers.
The most popular items in Ms. Tapp’s department, which is near the front at the checkout stands, are in the corporate “three for $10” promotion. Customers can buy three bunches of flowers including Alstroemerias, carnations, birds-of-paradise, Hydrangeas, callas, Gerberas and Gladioli. Roses are $2.49 a stem.
Bouquets are good sellers, too. One that does well is the “Butterfly Bouquet,” with Gerberas, spray mums, Alstroemerias, lemon leaf, ting-ting and a butterfly pick, for $7.99.
Cut flowers are Ms. Tapp’s biggest sellers, but plants do well, too. She sells many upgraded blooming plants, with an average price of $18.99. Dish gardens also sell well, averaging $29.00.
Ms. Tapp says people in Weatherford, population 22,000, primarily hear about her floral services through word of mouth. She provides flowers for as many as 14 weddings a year, including setup and delivery, and gets the business usually from brides’ or their families’ recommendations. “It makes me proud because they like what I’m doing. I try to make it as special as if it was one of my kids’ weddings,” she says.
That extra touch is what has propelled Ms. Tapp to success. She says she was overwhelmed when she found out she had won the “Merchandising Award of Excellence” contest. “People here thought I’d won the lottery,” she says, “and I said, ‘You know, in my head, I did win the lottery,’ because this is like a life dream for me.”

The Honor Award winners
Look for articles about the 2006 “Merchandising Award of Excellence” Honor Award Winners in the September and October issues of Super Floral Retailing.
The Honor Award winners are:
Honor Award for Best Signage Patty Malloy, floral manager; Gordy’s County Market; Eau Claire, Wis.
Honor Award for Best Cross-Merchandising Dave Quinn, store manager; Robby Bennett, produce manager; and Cynthia Tarver, floral specialist; Publix Super Market No. 842; Vestavia Hills, Ala.
Honor Award for Best Use of Props Donna Bennett, floral manager; and floral staff; Hy-Vee Overland Park No. 1; Overland Park, Kan.
Honor Award for Best Color Harmony Julie Baldassari, floral manager; Albertsons No. 303; Riverton, Utah
Honor Award for Best Stand-Alone Display Pam Mohler, Weis Market floral associate; and Tammy Smith, TotalFloral business counselor; Weis Market No. 58; Mechanicsburg, Pa.


You may reach Cynthia L. McGowan at or by phone at (800) 355-8086.

To enjoy the rest of this issue, please go to the Subscriptions page and get your copy of Super Floral Retailing today!!!

Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2006
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.
Site management by Tier One Media