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ribbon rotation
Here are five simple ways to boost bow sales for the holidays and beyond.
by Teresa P. Lanker

     Floral departments are full of ribbon. Narrow ribbons add pizzazz to corsages, wide ribbons create focal points for sympathy designs, dressy ribbons provide polish to wedding bouquets and cute ribbons make novelty arrangements cuter.
     Christmas is an ideal time to spark interest in ribbon by showing consumers novel ways they can use this fabric accessory to spice up their homes, gifts and even fashions. Throughout the Christmas season and beyond, consider these five simple ideas to keep ribbon moving and boost bow sales.

1. Create a ribbon sales center. Don’t keep all your pretty ribbons hidden in the work area. Create a space in the sales area of the department devoted to showcasing ribbons and bows. Line up multiple rolls in sections of rain gutter or several rose boxes (without lids). Suspend multiple rows of ribbon across an open armoire or narrow wall on dowels or tension curtain rods. Organize them by color, theme, holiday or season. Place the most timely ribbons front and center or in holiday-specific displays. Offer ribbon by the foot, yard or roll, with price incentives for bigger purchases. Be sure to mark prices clearly.

2. Offer custom bow-making and gift-wrapping. Sell your skills by making bows for a fee. Offer a selection of bow styles, such as traditional florist bows, Dior bows and pom-pom bows. Suggest multiribbon bows, combining prints with solids or sheers with satins, to sell more ribbon and provide more customization options.
     Expand your services to include custom gift-wrapping with deluxe ribbons and special package enhancements customers can’t get elsewhere, such as fresh and permanent evergreens and permanent berry picks for Christmas packages. Create one or several upscale packaging options prominently featuring bows and streamers that are offered for an additional fee with all fresh flower orders as well. Prepare a description to help sales personnel explain the difference between your standard wrap and the upscale version.

3. Decorate and display with ribbon. Showcase ribbon throughout the department with displays and decorative merchandise treatments that inspire customers to duplicate your ideas at home. During the holiday season, “wrap” any supporting columns in your department with decorative paper or foil, and accent them with oversized bows. Enhance display tabletops with ribbon runners.

4. Sell samples. Create samplers of seasonal and holiday-themed bows so customers can update wreaths, baskets and other permanent designs throughout the year. Include a bow tailored to each season plus bows for Valentine’s Day; Easter; Fourth of July; Halloween; Thanksgiving; and Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa in your assortment. Use wire-edged ribbons that will withstand storage and still look fresh with a simple fluff. Samplers of ribbon strips that extend into events including new babies, birthdays, graduations and weddings can be marketed for scrapbooking as well.

5. Design hair accessories. Scale down bows to a size suitable for children, and create one-of-a-kind hair accessories including clips, combs and ponytail holders with them. Tie or glue the ribbon adornments to inexpensive bases, and add beads, blossoms, decorative wires and other themed trinkets. Sell these accessories individually, or package three to five designs together as sets. Offer custom-designed hairclips for special occasions and outfits. Display samples on a framed bulletin board or foam-board base, or demonstrate the attire with which your designs might coordinate using fabric sashes.
     A final word of caution: While it is necessary to stock a wide array of ribbons, it also is important to keep the inventory moving. Otherwise, you’ll end up with hundreds of partial rolls of dated prints and faded colors. In addition to employing some of the above ideas, dating all ribbon rolls as they are received will allow you to make better judgments about replacement.  sfr

Teresa P. Lanker is assistant professor and chair of the Horticultural Technologies Division and coordinator of Floral Design and Marketing at The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute. Contact her at

You can find more ideas for working with ribbon, along with how-to projects, in Ribbons & Flowers, available for $24.95 in the Florists’ Review Enterprises’ Bookstore. For more information or to buy it, go to, and click on “Bookstore,” or call (800) 355-8086.



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WildFlower Media Inc.