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Merchandising Merit

Promotion hits a home run

Baseball-themed display increases sales and showcases designers’ talents.

When Donna Bennett, floral manager of the Hy-Vee Overland Park No. 1 in Overland Park, Kan., created a baseball-themed display for spring, she saw increased sales, but an added bonus was that her designers gained valuable exposure among customers.

Ms. Bennett, whose 1950s drive-in display earned her the Grand Award honor in the 2005 “Merchandising Award of Excellence” contest, sponsored by Super Floral Retailing and Börgen Systems, says her baseball theme also would work well for Father’s Day with gift items targeted toward men.

The baseball display received first place in a companywide spring contest for all Hy-Vee stores. Ms. Bennett’s theme was “Relive the Memories with the Kansas City Royals.”

The focal point of the display was a life-size topiary baseball player the staff named “Manne Quinn.” To create the Royals baseball player, Ms. Bennett hot-glued onto a mannequin 3,888 square inches of floral foam that she had cut into small pieces. Applying and sculpting the foam took about two hours a night for almost two weeks.

When the mannequin was completely covered with floral foam, an associate hosed it down, and Ms. Bennett placed flowers into the foam in one day, with the help of an assistant in the afternoon. She covered the arms and legs in sheet moss and created the uniform using 1,703 blue and white carnations. The display had to look fresh for 12 days, so the staff spritzed the mannequin with water each day.

Behind the mannequin, Ms. Bennett placed a stadium mural she found in the wallpaper department of a hardware store. The floor was covered with artificial turf. She constructed a protective wall around the display using Pepsi cases. Rose bushes, foliage plants and mixed bouquets completed the display.

To further carry out the Royals theme, floral turned its department into a concession stand. A “Concession” banner created by the store’s in-house artist, Vicky Olson, hung over the checkout counter. It featured Slugger, the Royals’ mascot, and listed floral “ice-cream” goodies including banana splits, sundaes and ice cream cones made with scoops of colored floral foam and white miniature carnations.
All the departments helped develop the Royals theme in their own areas. Ms. Olson created pennants honoring former Royals players, which staff placed throughout the store.

While the display didn’t have a huge effect on the floral department’s bottom line, it did increase the sales of bouquets and plants because it gave them top billing at the front of the store for 12 days. But more important, Ms. Bennett says, the designers had an opportunity to show off their creativity and design capabilities.

You can reach Merchandising Merit writer Monica Humbard at or (800) 355-8086.

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