a healthy dose of creativity
Dr Delphinium Designs & Events attracts its affluent clientele with an extensive array of fresh flowers and plants in captivating displays.
by Kelsey E. Smith
Open space, wide aisles and a vast selection of fresh flowers and plants are just a few keys to an enjoyable customer experience at Dr Delphinium Designs & Events in Dallas, Texas. They’re also among the elements that earned the business the award for “Outstanding Merchandising and Display” in our 2011 “Retail Florist of the Year” contest, co-sponsored by the Wholesale Florist & Florist Supplier Association (WF&FSA). Nominated by J.B. Parks Wholesale Florist in Dallas and Botanica Wholesale Florist, LLC, in Irving, Texas, Dr Delphinium—led by owner and general manager Charles Ingrum—has received numerous local honors as well, including the coveted “2010 Best Florist of Big D” award from D Magazine.
|Most fresh flowers and arrangements at Dr Delphinium are
presented in open-air displays, drawing customers’ eyes throughout the showroom.
|This grand display uses bubble vases in an unexpected way. Strung together into “strands” of “bubbles,” the vases appear to float over a captivating array of fresh flowers and plants.
“The shop’s display floor is always full of fresh flowers and designs with good signage and lighting,” writes Jim Parks of J.B. Parks Wholesale Florist, in his recommendation. “Because of Dr Delphinium Designs’ good use of their display area, they are able to market many new and exotic varieties of flowers.”
Charles Ingrum, owner and general manager of Dr Delphinium Designs & Events
fresh is front and center
When customers enter the business’s 9,000-square-foot flagship location, which caters to an affluent section of Dallas, they are welcomed with an entry-table display of seasonal cut flowers, plants and arrangements. “Often, the design team will create a chandelier or other structures to enhance the display, but the flowers are always the focal points,” notes Mr. Ingrum, who purchased the business in 2003 and opened a second, 1,000-square-foot retail location five years ago inside Medical City Hospital in Dallas.
The sales floor of the main location encompasses 2,800 square feet, including a 600-square-foot custom floral cooler with chocolate-brown-painted walls and lighting that makes the colors of the flowers “pop.” The cooler, custom displays and a large orchid and plant section loosely divide the store into three sections, which change seasonally when one of the business’s 10 full-time floral designers plans, budgets and executes a theme of his or her choice. Last holiday season, for example, designer Kelley Faulkner chose an “Urban Lodge” theme and utilized warm flannels, brightly colored frames and moss-covered spheres to enhance the store’s holiday décor.
Several of the business’s designers created this grand painting, which hangs above the cash-wrap area and features Delphiniums emerging from colorful blossoms. The work of art was created entirely from scratch, including the 15-foot-wide wood frame onto which the canvas is attached. From construction to the final brush stroke, the team effort took approximately two weeks.
Though Dr Delphinium offers some giftware selections—including eight fragrances of locally made candles—fresh flowers and plants account for most sales, which average $104. The cooler is always stocked with a large array of fresh flower arrangements and loose stems, but most flowers are displayed artfully on the sales floor, with plenty of space for customers to easily navigate the selections. The flowers’ lack of refrigeration is not an issue, says Mr. Ingrum, who notes that the store is kept cool and there is a humidifier in the showroom to ensure the flowers’ lifespans are impacted as little as possible. In addition, the business takes stringent precautions to ensure that all flowers are as fresh as possible.
“We take great pride in the freshness of our cut stems,” Mr. Ingrum relates. “We evaluate each stem on the sales floor twice daily and waste anything that doesn’t look fresh. We also date all of our flowers, and no stem is on the sales floor longer than three days.”
Detailed signage allows customers to easily identify varieties and prices among Dr Delphinium’s vast selection of plants, which account for 20 percent of the business’s annual sales.
Mr. Ingrum shares that the high volume of flowers sold at Dr Delphinium means there is little waste, however. “We cycle through those blooms pretty quickly,” he assures.
As the centerpiece of the sales floor, the custom, copper-topped checkout counter, which includes three POS terminals, is constantly changing and being updated with new items. From locally made artisan chocolates to small succulents, the counter provides a great place for customers to find add-on gifts and other impulse offerings.
Behind the counter are the shop’s cash-wrap stations, with wall space above for unique seasonal displays. Past wall displays have included a fireplace mantel and giant bird’s nests with large blue robin eggs. At press time, Mr. Ingrum noted that a captivating 15-foot-wide canvas, hand-painted by several of Dr Delphinium’s designers, graced the wall.
“It was a team process,” he recalls. “One designer who is more mechanically inclined built the frame for the canvas, another designer came up with the concept and another helped them paint.”
Rental items for events—which account for a relatively small but growing percentage of sales—are often used as display props throughout the store and can be switched out easily to complement the flower and plant offerings. The store is known for its vast selection of orchid plants and regularly carries about a dozen types, from popular Cymbidium, Dendrobium and Phalaenopsis orchids to sophisticated hybrids such as Vuylstekeara orchids, which are a cross of Cochlioda, Miltonia and Odontoglossum.
Plants account for 20 percent of Dr. Delphinium’s annual sales. In addition to its orchids, the business regularly offers a selection of at least 30 types of blooming and foliage plants along with about 15 succulent varieties.
Plant baskets are a popular choice, ranging in price from $35 to $250. Most baskets include both blooming and foliage plants—though they can include all of one type, such as all-white blooming baskets for sympathy—and the mechanics are a bit different than the plant compositions offered by Dr Delphinium’s competitors.
“In a typical dish garden, the plants are repotted in the planter whereas our plants are left in the grow pots,” Mr. Ingrum explains. “This way, they’re still separated, and if customers want, they can take them out one at a time to replant or maintain.”
selling with signage
Effective signage throughout the store allows customers to clearly see variety names and prices. Each plant also includes a hang tag, custom-printed with the store’s logo, that offers information about the plant and instructions for its care.
Signage also is an important tool for informing customers about items that are created locally, such as the business’s candles, chocolates and, at Christmastime, locally grown amaryllises. The bulbs for these seasonal flowers are imported from Brazil and grown in Dr Delphinium’s 2,400-square-foot greenhouse, which is located behind its flagship store. “‘Local’ is very important to us,” Mr. Ingrum relates. “We consider it a huge competitive edge.”
Last spring, the sales staff at Dr Delphinium came up with a successful way to make flower buying easier for customers. Approximately 15 glass vases in a variety of sizes and shapes are showcased in an open baker’s rack at any given time. Mr. Ingrum shares that the vase display is popular among Dr Delphinium’s customers, who, overall, are highly knowledgeable about flowers.
“Our customers will often come in and choose their own flowers and then ask our designers to put the arrangement together,” Mr. Ingrum explains. “The display of glass vases allows customers to start with the base size and shape of the arrangement and to better envision the arrangement for flower selections and the quantity of flowers.”
Dr Delphinium touted the new vase display on its blog last March with photos and enticing copy: Our designers came up with this fabulous idea of a vase display to make the Dr Delphinium style even more accessible! Now you can see more vases from our wide collection and make your flower arrangement that much more special!
And special experiences such as this help keep customers coming back to see all that Dr Delphinium Designs & Events has to offer. With a healthy dose of creativity, the store is poised to entice the eyes and please the senses well into the future.
Contact Kelsey Smith at email@example.com or (800) 367-4708.
||at a glance
dr delphinium designs & events
Owner: Charles Ingrum
Location: Dallas, Texas
Number of locations: 3 (2 retail shops and a design center)
Established: 1988 (Mr. Ingrum purchased in 2003)
Shop/Facility sizes: 9,000 square feet in main store (including 2,800-square-foot sales area) with a 2,400-square-foot greenhouse on property; 1,000 square feet in hospital shop; 10,000 square feet in design center (8,500 square feet of production space and 1,500 square feet of office space)
Clientele: affluent with high flower knowledge
Average sale: $104 before tax and delivery
Number of employees: 43 full-time plus contract workers for events, which account for 7 percent of the business