An engaging mixture of merchandising, service and products keeps floral shoppers coming back.
by Cynthia L. McGowan
The wow factor. That’s what upscale independent McCaffrey’s Market aims for in all its departments, including floral, which sets the tone for freshness and beauty for the entire shopping experience.
“In every department customers come into, we try to wow them, whether it be by creative merchandising, product selection, quality or service,” explains Tony Mirack, produce/floral merchandiser-buyer for the three-store company, which has locations in Yardley, Pa., and Princeton and West Windsor, N.J. “We want every single one of our departments to have some sort of wow factor to it.”
a focus on fresh
That’s especially true of the company’s fresh departments, Mr. Mirack reveals. “We put a tremendous amount of emphasis on all of our perishable departments,” he confirms.
Those departments include large produce sections filled with seasonal, exotic and organic selections as well as locally and regionally grown items. The company even has entered into an agreement with BrightFarms of New York to build and operate a hydroponic greenhouse near its Yardley location. McCaffrey’s will buy produce from the greenhouse for truly local fare.
Remarks Jim McCaffrey, owner and president of McCaffrey’s, “Not only will the greenhouse allow us to continue providing to our customers the freshest and highest quality produce, but it also fits right into our company philosophy to make as small an impact on the environment as possible.”
The company also offers restaurant-quality prepared foods sections; bakery departments with a huge array of fresh-baked goods; certified Angus beef in the meat departments; high-quality, fresh products in seafood; and a full-service catering division.
Displays change often to reflect seasonality and to keep customers’ attention, Mr. Mirack says. Care is taken to ensure the departments always meet McCaffrey’s high standards of cleanliness and quality. “Our stores are always impeccable,” he remarks.
Those standards are seen in the beautiful floral departments, which are at the front of all three locations. “When you walk into the entrance of McCaffrey’s, the first department you hit is floral,” Mr. Mirack confirms. “It really sets the tone.”
In each store, a wall of bouquets, arrangements, rose bunches and single stems, arrayed in a large open cooler, immediately catches customers’ eyes. Nearby, at least a dozen buckets of colorful consumer bunches vie for attention. The departments also feature plants and giftware attractively merchandised on tables and in hutches.
The floral managers constantly change the looks of the departments to keep customers’ interest high, Mr. Mirack shares. They’ll move fixtures, rotate products from one display table to another and add new products.
“We get the same customers in several times a week, and if they bought tulips on Monday, there’s a good chance they’re not going to buy them again on Friday,” he reminds. “But if you add something different, you could possibly promote a sale.”
The departments also encourage sales through cross-merchandising. The staff puts portable displays in areas that are a natural fit with floral, including bakery and the greeting card aisle—“anyplace that can spark a floral purchase,” Mr. Mirack shares.
McCaffrey’s places two-bucket carts of its lowest-priced bouquet at the checkout stands, a practice that started during the recession, when the floral operation took a hit. Mr. Mirack recalls talking with his floral staff and asking, “How can we stimulate purchases?” They decided to try placing a $5 bouquet at the registers, giving customers one last chance to make a floral purchase. The mind-set was, “We would rather sell a $5 bouquet than nothing,” he recalls. The strategy paid off, and “We did really well with it.”
The department’s biggest-selling items, however, are custom designs, ranging in price from $19.99 to $100. Mr. Mirack attributes their success to McCaffrey’s commitment to floral staffing and high-quality customer service. Each department has two full-time and two part-time staff members, with someone on duty from 8 a.m. until 6 or 7 p.m. daily.
That staffing commitment allows the departments to create custom designs while shoppers are in the store, often using the flowers they’ve chosen from the single-stem selection—the floral operation’s No. 2 seller. “A customer will say, ‘I’m going to go get my milk; will you have it ready for me when I come back?’” Mr. Mirack shares. “And we do.”
The departments, led by managers Sandy Liberato in Yardley, Shelly Larson in Princeton and Patrice Cronin in West Windsor, excel at offering full-service florals in a one-on-one atmosphere, Mr. Mirack says. “We do a lot of creating in our floral departments,” he elaborates. “We’re willing to accommodate our customers in exactly what they want.”
In fact, “grab-and-go” isn’t the department’s business model. Although impulse sales are important, the company’s culture encourages customer engagement, and so the highly skilled and knowledgeable staff spends time interacting with clients and answering their questions. “If you don’t have the right people answering those questions, you can’t earn the respect or the business of the customers,” he emphasizes. “We want that opportunity to talk to those customers. It’s the only way we can educate them.”
Having the floral counters visible to customers so they can see the designers working helps encourage that one-on-one interaction, Mr. Mirack shares. The departments also have a dedicated phone line as a way to further customer communication.
In addition to custom designs, the florists offer event work and delivery. McCaffrey’s was “bogged down” with prom sales in the spring, Mr. Mirack shares, a business it obtains thanks to the company’s strong community ties. “We are a very close-knit community store,” he explains. “We’re involved in a lot of schools through different functions, and they recognize us as a partner with them.”
the top sellers
In addition to custom designs and single stems, bouquets and bunches perform well for the departments. Among bouquets, a signature $9.99 style, created by a local wholesaler, changes seasonally and sells the best, Mr. Mirack describes.
In bunches, the company’s Ecuadorian roses, at $9.99 for 12 stems of mixed colors, sell best, Mr. Mirack reveals. Customers also prize Alstroemerias, at $9.99 a bunch, for their longevity and beauty. But when in season, tulips, at $7.99 for 10 stems, are the top seller. From March through July, “tulips are the breadwinner,” Mr. Mirack confirms.
Plants are an important category for the floral operation, composing 20 percent of total purchases, Mr. Mirack shares. Potted tulips are especially popular and have helped make Easter the operation’s biggest holiday. “The six-inch tulip absolutely dominates,” he marvels. “It’s pretty amazing.”
The floral departments also sell giftware, including candles, wreaths, stylish vases and more. The departments keep a selection of ready-made gift baskets on hand but frequently create custom baskets.
Although Mr. Mirack chooses the vendors, using a combination of wholesalers and growers, the floral managers do the ordering themselves. Products are delivered as many as four times a week to ensure maximum freshness.
The high-quality products, engaging service and exciting merchandising all combine to create floral departments that wow customers and keep them coming back. Comments Mr. Mirack, “Customers know they can come to us to get whatever it is to meet their floral needs.” sfr
LOCATIONS Yardley, Pa., Princeton, N.J., and West Windsor, N.J.
OWNER AND PRESIDENT Jim McCaffrey
STORE SIZE Averages 40,000 square feet
COMPANY EMPLOYEES 550-600
FLORAL EMPLOYEES Four per department (two full time and two part time)
FLORAL SERVICES Full-service floral departments, offering custom designs, delivery and FTD flowers-by-wire service
BIGGEST FLORAL HOLIDAY Easter
FLORAL’S CONTRIBUTION TO COMPANY SALES 2 percent
PRODUCE/FLORAL MERCHANDISER-BUYER Tony Mirack
YARDLEY FLORAL MANAGER Sandy Liberato
PRINCETON FLORAL MANAGER Shelly Larson
WEST WINDSOR FLORAL MANAGER Patrice Cronin
merchandising for christmas
The floral staff helps continue McCaffrey’s Market’s “wow factor” merchandising strategy at Christmas, turning the floral departments into holiday shops and decorating the stores for their annual open house.
About a month before Christmas, shares Tony Mirack, produce/floral merchandiser-buyer, each store has a “holiday tasting,” where customers sample its seasonal offerings. The floral operation “sets the tone as far as making sure it has that Christmas feeling to it,” he remarks.
The departments welcome customers with massive displays of poinsettias, other holiday plants, flowers, giftware and gift baskets. Poinsettias are the top seller during the season, and although the department offers a variety of colors, red sells the best.
keys to success
MERCHANDISING The floral department greets customers at McCaffrey’s Market, wowing them with a wall of bouquets, arrangements and bunches, and display tables of flowers, plants and giftware. Displays change often to keep customers’ interest high.
SERVICE The floral operation’s designers are skilled at offering one-on-one, high-quality service and customer engagement. Customers turn to McCaffrey’s for custom designs and event services.
PRODUCTS Each store’s floral manager orders products for her own department, ensuring the products are right for her customer base. Products are delivered up to four times a week for maximum freshness.
Reach Editor in Chief
Cynthia L. McGowan at
or (800) 355-8086.