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A FRESH approach in Texas

Floral is showcased in Brookshire’s new concept store.

    by Cynthia L. McGowan

     FRESH by Brookshire’s, a new concept store that Brookshire Grocery Co. recently unveiled, takes the “fresh” in its name seriously. Its fresh approach to supermarket retailing is evident in all facets of the store, including its beautifully merchandised full-service floral department.
     Just opened in March in Tyler, Texas, the 55,000-square-foot FRESH boasts a coffee and gelato bar, an artisan bakery, organic and gluten-free foods, and expanded healthy-living items, along with traditional grocery items. The store also offers up to 60 chef-prepared fresh food offerings a day, including gourmet fare, a burrito and taco bar, a sandwich bar, a soup and salad bar, and an outdoor grill. “We crisscrossed the nation exploring the best grocery stores and improved upon the great things we discovered,” Kyle Glasscock, food service director, is quoted as saying on the store’s website,

a commitment to sustainability

     The store pledges to sell locally procured items as well as organic and sustainable products whenever possible. The company demonstrated its commitment to sustainability in the design of the building itself, applying for certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which verifies that a construction project meets the highest green building and performance measures.
     “We have lots of great environmentally friendly attributes that went into the construction of the building,” confirms Christi Khalaf, the store’s marketing and community relations specialist. In the floral department, for example, “We used recycled bricks from the first-ever Brookshire store, which opened in 1929 on the Tyler downtown square.”
     The store’s fresh appeal extends to customer service. Store personnel and even shoppers are called “Freshies.” The website explains: “Our guests will be known as Freshies, too. Why? Because we know you’re just as passionate about fresh food and groceries as we are!” A select group of eight employees are dubbed “Freshologists,” and they are trained to offer expert advice, give product demonstrations, offer samples—“There’s lots of sampling,” Mrs. Khalaf says—and act as guides for customers. They wear green shirts and shoes to increase their visibility.
     The Freshologists serve as role models for the rest of the staff, offers Floral Manager Angie Hall. “They’ve challenged us all to be very knowledgeable and to learn as much as we can about our products to be able to serve our customers,” she shares.

the floral department’s fresh appeal

     The store’s fresh focus is embodied in the floral department, where a huge variety of flowers by the stem, bouquets and arrangements are enticingly arrayed on wood tables, hutches and crates and in French buckets. The product selection differs from other Brookshire grocery stores, says Scott Player, certified category manager - fresh foods. “Our conventional floral departments carry a larger variety of blooming, foliage and novelty type items,” he shares. “This format, as the name implies, is all about ‘fresh’.
     “While we do carry a small selection of potted plants here, our focus is on fresh-cut flowers, bouquets and custom-made arrangements,” he continues. “We want to educate our customers about the many positives of keeping fresh flowers in their home and encourage them to make frequent trips to our floral department to find that special variety that they can’t get anywhere else locally.”
     The store planners placed the department near the main checkout area to spur impulse sales as customers finish their shopping trips. In addition, Mrs. Khalaf remarks, “It’s a beautiful backdrop to a wait in the checkout line.”

“we can do anything”

     Mrs. Hall, who helped plan the department, hired two experienced floral designers to staff it full time and also hired four clerks for part-time positions. Her head designer, Shellie Jacob, who trained under famed French floral designer Emilio Robba, provided design classes to the new clerks before the store opened, and they also received training in other Brookshire stores.
     With the large staff and high skill level, Mrs. Hall emphasizes, “We can do anything that any flower shop can do.” That includes weddings, funerals, events and delivery, and they have the flexibility to create designs while customers shop.
     The design tables are on the sales floor, which serves both as a sales tool and for shopper engagement. Customers enjoy watching the designers work, and they often end up buying the arrangements being created.
     The department is staffed seven days a week, usually from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Those hours offer convenience to customers and help the department differentiate itself from flower shops that are open for fewer hours or that close on Sundays. “We always have someone there who can take care of orders and delivery if it’s needed,” Mrs. Hall confirms.
     Although open just a few months, FRESH already is building a wedding business. “Some of them are bigger, some of them are smaller,” Mrs. Hall acknowledges. The staff has handled weddings involving set-up and tear-down as well as ones needing just bouquets and personal flowers.
     Mrs. Hall credits Ms. Jacob for helping grow the wedding business. She had a loyal customer base at another flower shop before going to FRESH, and clientele followed her to the new store. “When people have found out that she’s working with us, they’ve really been glad that they can come and get her to do the weddings and events,” Mrs. Hall shares.
     To add to customer convenience, the department works with the catering department to coordinate wedding and event services. “It’s a one-stop shop,” Mrs. Hall points out.

what sells best

     It’s also a one-stop shop when it comes to flower selection. The department’s popular stem program includes tropicals (orchids, birds-of-paradise, Heliconias, Anthuriums, gingers and Proteas), Hydrangeas, lilies, callas, Irises, spray roses, Gerberas and much more, with prices ranging from $1.29 to $8.99. “They can pick just the stems that they want, and we will wrap them in a bouquet for them,” Mrs. Hall reports.
     The top-selling floral items, though, are the department’s arrangements. Ms. Jacob’s European-style designs provide a unique look for the department, Mrs. Hall shares, and have helped make arrangements a customer draw. The average price point is $40. “With our $10 delivery fee, they can get what they want for right around $50,” she comments.
     Mixed bouquets, also good sellers, range from $12.99 to $29.99. Customers especially favor a $12.99 tropical bouquet that usually features gingers, Heliconias and birds-of-paradise. Mrs. Hall says the department took a chance on the bouquet—one that paid off. “We ran it in our very first ad when we opened and didn’t know how it was going to do,” she reveals. “We did really well, and customers keep coming back for it.”
     Although cut flowers are the department’s emphasis, it also keeps a selection of blooming and foliage plants on hand. Plants include orchids, azaleas, Hydrangeas, bromeliads and Anthuriums, from $28.99 to $50.
     In addition, the department offers ready-made and custom gift baskets. One regular client, a local real estate agent, asks the department to create them as housewarming gifts and often purchases several a week.
     Mrs. Hall orders the floral department’s wares from a variety of suppliers, including local growers, wholesalers, and South American and Dutch importers. FRESH touts its locally grown flowers in signage, and they also were heavily promoted during a recent “Taste of Texas” in-store event.

getting the word out

     Promotions like the Taste of Texas event are an important way FRESH by Brookshire’s has gotten the word out about its new floral department. It also participated in a local “women’s night out,” where it shared a booth with catering, showcased arrangements and gave flowers to the first 50 guests. The department plans to have a booth at a bridal show this summer, too.
     Facebook and the store’s website are also important marketing tools. Since opening in March, 2,500 people have “liked” FRESH’s Facebook page, and the store uses it for a dialogue with customers, who ask about products, request items and rave about their experiences. Every customer comment is met with a response. “We find that our ‘followers’ or ‘friends’ really do engage with the brand,” Mrs. Khalaf remarks.
     For floral, “It’s a pretty awesome way to tell people that we have a certain kind of flower that they may have never seen before in Tyler,” she shares. The company also used its Facebook page to show its Mother’s Day flowers, with the headline, “Bloomin’ FRESH for Mom!”
     The website,, features floral prominently in several locations. It showcases the department’s flowers, introduces the staff and offers a blog by Mrs. Hall. For Mother’s Day, her blog offered gift ideas for all budgets.

opportunities for growth

     A fresh focus and attention to quality and service have given this new department a strong foundation for growth, the company assures. “While FRESH has been an overwhelming success so far,” Mr. Player remarks, “we are excited about the possibilities that will come as more customers become aware of our ability to take care of their unique floral needs.”
     Confirms Mrs. Hall, “We have a great opportunity to build the floral department into something really special.”  

  fresh by brookshire’s  

LOCATION Tyler, Texas
PARENT COMPANY Brookshire Grocery Co. of Tyler, Texas; the company has 150 supermarkets under the Brookshire’s Food & Pharmacy, Super 1 Foods & Discount Pharmacy, Olé Foods and ALPS (Always Low Price Store) banners in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas
OPENED March 2011
STORE SIZE 55,000 square feet
FLORAL SERVICES Full-service florals including
custom designs, weddings, sympathy, events and delivery
FLORAL DESIGNERS Shellie Jacob and Lauren Zarecor


keys to success


PRODUCTS The floral department at FRESH by Brookshire’s offers a large array of flowers by the stem, bouquets and beautiful arrangements. It seeks out products that customers likely won’t see elsewhere.
SERVICE The department’s staff of seven provide a full range of floral services. It is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m seven days a week for added customer convenience.
PROMOTIONS The store promotes its floral department via in-store and community events, its website, Facebook and in-store advertisements. It also has a booklet that describes its services, shows different styles of arrangements and includes pricing.


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