A sweet Valentine's
Stop & Shop in Toms River,
N.J., wins the 2010 “Merchandising Award of Excellence”
by Cynthia L.
It all started with a
chocolate fountain. Dawn Houseworth, floral manager
at Stop & Shop No. 808 in Toms River, N.J., knew she
wanted one in her Valentine’s Day display, and it inspired
her to create an “Old Tyme Cafe” that charmed shoppers and
the judges of the 2010 “Merchandising Award of Excellence”
contest, sponsored by Super Floral Retailing and
Mrs. Houseworth’s grand-prize-winning display was near
the entrance to the store, and the chocolate fountain, two
large balloon arches and signage promising “sweets, treats
and fresh flowers” immediately captivated customers. Bistro
tables topped with “lollipop” arrangements enhanced the
candy shop theme, as did the department’s arrangement
display case, which was highlighted with tulle to resemble
Mrs. Houseworth and her floral team made sure to offer
customers everything they needed for Valentine’s Day.
product selection included mass groupings of bouquets and
dozen roses, arrangements, blooming plants, balloons, candy,
baked goods, and dips and fruit near the fountain. In
addition, the display had an area for two associates to
create custom arrangements while shoppers watched.
category and sourcing manager—floral for Stop &
Shop/Giant-Landover, shares that Mrs. Houseworth’s winning
effort is reflective of the caliber of the company’s
store-level associates, lauding their “incredible
enthusiasm, talent, creativity and customer skills.” Mrs.
Houseworth’s display “really exemplified that creativity,”
The judges agreed
with that assessment, awarding Mrs. Houseworth an
expense-paid trip to the International Floriculture Expo
in Miami Beach, Fla., in June, where she was presented the
crystal Orrefors Börgen Cup by Arden Börgen, CEO and
founder of Börgen Systems, during the Keynote Breakfast. She
also received hotel accommodations.
The winning display
was a team effort, Mrs. Houseworth acknowledges. “Store
management was definitely supportive of the whole event,”
she shares. Her floral team of three part-time employees
helped in the building of the large display, and the produce
department contributed items for dipping in the chocolate
She began planning the display around Thanksgiving,
when she thought of the chocolate fountain. “That was my
main idea,” Mrs. Houseworth recalls. She then needed a theme
to encompass the fountain and decided that an old-fashioned
candy shop would be perfect for Valentine’s Day. “Once I
came up with my theme, it just took off,” she remarks.
Finding a chocolate fountain to rent was more difficult
than anticipated, and when Mrs. Houseworth located one at a
party store two months before Valentine’s Day, she
immediately booked it. She also rented a trellis for the
fountain, put tulle and candy-shaped signage on it and
called it “Fountain Café.”
Mrs. Houseworth took advantage of slow periods in
January to start creating the signage. She wrapped
rectangular boxes with white and red cellophane to give them
the appearance of old-style candy and applied
scrapbook-style wording that read “sweets, treats and fresh
flowers” to them. She later hung the signage from the center
of one of the balloon arches. Other signage, also with
scrapbook-style lettering, enticed customers to pick up
bouquets and roses at the second balloon arch.
The arches “made a big impact when you walked in
the store,” Mrs. Houseworth remembers. PVC pipe gave them
their structure. The arches helped draw attention to the
focal Valentine’s Day products, including vases of roses in
attractive carry bags that were ready to grab and go.
That focus on the products was key to the success of
the display, points out Pat Dwyer, senior director of
floral sales and procurement for Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover.
“When you look at Dawn’s display, you see this nice big
display, and it certainly grabs attention,” he reminds. “But
the thing that really grabs the attention is that it’s about
the product and about selling product and getting people
stop & shop /
STORES 561, in Connecticut,
Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland,
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York,
Rhode Island and Virginia
SALES $17.9 billion in 2009,
according to the Directory of Supermarket, Grocery &
Convenience Store Chains
ESTABLISHED 1914 (Stop &
Shop); 1936 (Giant-Landover)
STORE SIZE Ranges from 35,000
to 70,000 square feet
FLORAL DEPARTMENT size
Ranges from 800 to more than 2,000 square feet
Average three to four per store
Full-service floral departments in most stores,
offering custom designs, weddings and events
BIGGEST FLORAL HOLIDAY
SENIOR DIRECTOR OF FLORAL
SALES AND PROCUREMENT
CATEGORY AND SOURCING
FLORAL MANAGER, TOMS
RIVER, N.J., STORE
a memorable week
The display occupied
a space reserved at the front of the store for special
holiday promotions. That space was being used for a Super
Bowl promotion in early February, so Mrs. Houseworth and her
team built the display a week before Valentine’s Day.
“It was an adventurous week,” Mrs. Houseworth
recalls—the area was socked by two major snowstorms.
Fortunately, she had anticipated bad weather and had picked
up the chocolate fountain before the storms hit.
And when the display all came together, customers
showed their appreciation. “I can remember having customers
saying ‘ooh’ and ‘aah,’” Mrs. Houseworth comments. Some told
companions who had stayed in their cars that they had to
come in and see the display. “I had a lot of people just
stand there and look around and tell me that they had to
take it all in,” she shares.
The chocolate fountain, which was free, served to keep
customers in the department and engaged with the staff.
“People loved it,” Mrs. Houseworth exclaims. “It definitely
was a conversation place.”
the winning elements
Elements that helped make
the display a winner included:
THEME Everything about the
display fit with the “Old Tyme Café” theme. The
candy-shaped signage, chocolate fountain and bistro
tables all served to create an old-fashioned candy shop
SIGNAGE The signage was an
important attention-getter for the display. It all was
created in the same scrapbook style, producing a
harmonious look for the promotion. The signage
identified for customers where Valentine’s Day favorites
such as roses and bouquets were located. Candy-shaped
signage also added a whimsical touch.
Red, appropriate for Valentine’s Day, was the dominant
hue, and it was complemented by white and pink. The
colors in the signage, balloons, trellis, tulle and
other elements in the display all worked together to
help draw customers’ eyes to the Valentine products.
The chocolate fountain created a perfect opportunity for
cross-merchandising. Mrs. Houseworth used the store’s
salad bar to create an attractive display case housing
dips, chocolates and fruits favorable for dipping. In
addition, the floral department offered candy, baked
goods and giftware.
The display offered “just about anything you can
possibly need” for Valentine’s Day, Mrs. Houseworth
says. Roses were the primary focus and the top-selling
item, and they were available in a variety of
configurations, from single stems to arrangements, for
customers. “I have a very big rose clientele,” she
shares, attributing that in part to how she presents
those favorite flowers.
For example, Mrs.
Houseworth turned the department’s bouquet case into a “wall
of love,” using it to showcase single, triple, dozen and
spray rose bouquets, ranging in price from $7.99 to $29.99.
The vased dozen-stem arrangements in the grab-and-go bags
were $39.99 each.
Mixed bouquets, from $7.99 to $19.99, also were popular
with customers. In addition, the department offered consumer
bunches, dish gardens and upgraded plants.
Mrs. Houseworth says displays like her Valentine’s promotion
help create excitement in the department, kindle
relationships with customers and increase loyalty among her
clientele. That, in turn, means greater sales. “If you do it
right,” she emphasizes, “you’re going to gain extra sales.”
for valentine’s day
When you have a large
company like Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover, with
561 stores, it takes a lot of coordination and
planning to ensure a successful floral holiday such
as Valentine’s Day.
In fact, as soon as Valentine’s Day is over,
planning for the next year’s holiday begins. Within
a week, stores scrutinize their sales and place
orders for the next year, and the cut-flower buyer
uses that information to work with suppliers over
the next few months to coordinate “an even better
program for the next year,” shares Jack Wilson,
category and sourcing manager—floral.
The corporate team, which consists of Mr. Wilson;
Pat Dwyer, the senior director of floral sales
and procurement; buyers; and merchandisers, develop
a plan for the holiday, and sales managers who are
assigned to districts in the company make sure it is
carried out at store level. Those sales managers
“play a key role” in making sure everything comes
together, Mr. Dwyer says.
Right after Christmas, the sales managers have
meetings with the floral managers in their districts
to discuss the products, merchandising and ad
items—“everything that’s necessary for an important
holiday like Valentine’s Day,” Mr. Wilson remarks.
Because Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover has a variety of
store shapes and sizes, a “one-size-fits-all”
merchandising format doesn’t work. Instead, the
company encourages creative merchandising with sales
contests, often with gift cards as the prizes. The
contests “get the entire store involved and
excited,” Mr. Dwyer explains. “They build a little
bit of competition and get some recognition and
support around floral, especially at key times.”
The only rule for the contests, he says, is that the
product must take center stage. “In other words,” he
emphasizes, “the product is the key.”
Once the holiday arrives, “we’re all out in the
stores for long days,” Mr. Wilson describes, from
the senior floral level to the sales managers,
working to ensure the floral managers have what they
need for a successful event. The departments often
have as many as four floral employees per shift
during the holiday, dedicated registers for floral
purchases and help from other areas of the store.
“There’s a tremendous amount of support,” Mr. Wilson
That kind of support for floral is typical at Stop &
Shop/Giant-Landover, both Mr. Wilson and Mr. Dwyer
say. The company makes sure floral has the space,
fixtures, labor and ad space needed for success.
Employees receive design and management training,
both internally and from vendor partners. Confirms
Mr. Wilson: “There’s a real commitment to floral in
Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover.”
the honor award
Look for articles
about the 2010 “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
Heidi Carey; Market Street
No. 564; Coppell, Texas
HONOR AWARD FOR BEST
Lori Trotter, IMF; Hy-Vee;
West Des Moines, Iowa
HONOR AWARD FOR BEST THEME
Pat Reaver and Tim
Collins; Publix Super Market No. 861; Deerfield
HONOR AWARD FOR BEST COLOR
Kellie Dell and Cindy Fitzgerald; Hy-Vee; Omaha,
Reach Editor in Chief
Cynthia L. McGowan at
or (800) 355-8086.
Photos courtesy of
The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company