Valentine's Day has arrived, and what better way to commemorate the occasion than by recognizing our outstanding florists who are on the front lines during the holidays. We interviewed customers who operate a retail space and got the inside scoop of their operations during a busy floral holiday.
Monarch Garden & Floral Design, Petoskey, Michigan
Monarch Garden & Floral Design is Petoskey's premier florist for florals, event planning and design, event decor and rentals, garden, and home accessories for the past 15 years. William Santos, Owner and Lead Designer takes pride in their mission--to provide the best products and services to their customers.
To start preparing for Valentine's day, William likes to look at sales from past Valentine's seasons and plan for a 15% increase. Then, he comes up with designs that he knows are suitable for the customer's tastes and budgets. Thus, begins the search for vases that fit the design--keeping in mind that some of the arrangements will be on their website and will need extra amounts for those designs. They do not sell plush additions or specialty merchandise that is Valentine's Day themed. The focus is on the classic arrangements customers come back for year after year. After the hard goods are accounted for, the floral ordering starts-- looking for the best quality for the best price. Monarch uses around ten floral wholesalers and farms around the U.S. and a few outside the country. They have relationships with these vendors and can trust ordering holiday flowers. A major holiday is not a time to test a new farm or wholesaler!
"I like to design everything that goes on our website using Details. I will print all the recipes with prices and images so everyone knows how many stems it takes to make this or that. It is great to know we have six more design orders, and we are running low on the flowers. I know how many I need to set aside to fulfill those orders. Details also helps with the ordering of product."
Being in a small resort town, Monarch Gardens focuses on the staff to be in store for the pick-ups and walk-in customers that account for over half of their orders. Delivery drivers are available for the other half of Valentine's Day orders.
The storefront is decorated for their Crystal Anniversary (15 years). It has three oversized crystal chandeliers in the window display with some pedestals with permanent floral arrangements in red and some large frames with images of their Valentine's Day campaign. When customers walk into the store, they are greeted by Valentine's Day-inspired display in red and white.
Without the help of the excellent Monarch Staff, all of this could not be accomplished. During the holidays, William treats his team to lunch and a fully stocked snack bar to keep them energized and happy during the long design days.
Having a 5,000 square foot store, there has to be a method to merchandise display. Monarch Gardens (@monarchgfd) is set into 28 distinct areas--color being the most important! Each vignette has its own color palette and designs esthetic. It is designed with space to add products as new items come in.
They have a variety of merchandise options for their customers to choose from! A large part of their shop is dedicated to silk florals. Containers of all shapes and sizes mixed in with home accessories. They also have an exclusive line of candles, body care products, soaps, and many gifts options available. There is always something fresh and new in the store for customers.
Attending Market Events helps find those unique and one-of-a-kind pieces for the store. "I will purchase 90% of our inventory for the year at Market. I have been attending the Atlanta Gift Market for the past few years. I know my way around, and I can find everything I need. I like to take my time and spend 5-6 days there. It can be exhausting, but I make all the orders for the year, and then I don't have to worry about it, except for re-ordering our basics. Also, Market allows me to get better volume discounts and shipping rates."
Advice from William about starting your retail location:
"The most important thing would be, 'will my customer buy this item?' It is one thing for you to like a particular product but will your customers feel the same?
When I travel in the U.S. and overseas, I like to visit other shops and see what they have. Visiting competition is not a bad thing to do. There is no intention of coping their style but to be aware of what they are selling so I do not invest in a new line that looks like something they have been caring for a while and do great with it."
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