honor award winner-2008 retail florist of the year


 flowers

  that sell themselves

This upscale florist promotes her business by taking her strongest asset, her fresh floral designs, directly to affluent buyers.

by Shelley Urban


    Pam March, owner of Every Blooming Thing in Salt Lake City, Utah, has always known that her flowers could sell themselves. The challenge, she realized back in 1977 when she opened her shop, was to target the right market and get her products into the buyers’ hands. If she could manage that, she knew she could make this new venture work.
    Within just a year or two, it became clear that Mrs. March’s strategies were working, and doors, many of them to lucrative corporate accounts, began opening. Since those early days, Mrs. March has continued to allow her flowers to “speak for themselves,” with a payoff of $1.3 million in annual revenues from just two locations, one of which is only a year old.
    Another payoff of Mrs. March’s promotional strategies is that they earned Every Blooming Thing the Honor Award for Outstanding Marketing and Promotions in our annual “Retail Florist of the Year” competition, co-sponsored by the Wholesale Florist & Florist Supplier Association (WF&FSA). Every Blooming Thing was nominated by Ensign Wholesale Floral in Salt Lake City.

setting her course
    As a newly divorced single parent with no credit history, Mrs. March knew that starting a business and making it succeed would be a steep uphill climb. But she also knew she had no other choice. So when she found an old “French Victorian” home available for commercial lease, Mrs. March says it “spoke” to her and seemed like the ideal location for the type of business that she envisioned.
    “I knew I wasn’t a strip-mall florist,” she explains. “I wanted to reach an upscale, affluent consumer.” The house, which Mrs. March says could qualify to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, if that weren’t so prohibitive to doing business, seemed the right match and set the tone for the direction of her newly established flower shop.

  Every Blooming Thing at a glance

 
 
Owner: Pam March
Number of shops: 2
Locations: Salt Lake City and Draper, Utah
Opened: 1977
Shop size: 3,000 square feet at each location
Clientele: mostly affluent men and women, ages 35-80
Average sale of all merchandise: $85
Average fresh flower sale: $65-$100
Annual sales volume: approximately $1.3 million 80 percent in Salt Lake City, 20 percent in Draper
Number of employees: 15
Web site: www.everybloomingthing.cc

 


 

focus on affluence
    Once she had identified the fledgling shop’s target customer, Mrs. March took her product where those customers would be. After that first account was landed, with what was then the city’s only five-star hotel, other upscale businesses and influential clients came calling.
    Today, Mrs. March finds that strategy for reaching new clients, both corporate and consumer, as useful as ever. “Our product is our best advertising, so we want it to be exposed to the specific groups of clients we’re trying to reach,” she explains.
    In Salt Lake City, the community’s affluent residents are patrons of the arts, supporters of worthy causes and active in community events. And so is Every Blooming Thing. Donations of fresh flower arrangements, made purposefully and not by request, are among the company’s most effective forms of advertising.
    When the Utah Opera or Utah Symphony opens a new performance, flowers donated by Every Blooming Thing grace their lobbies and other rooms throughout the venues. Regal plaques nearby indicate the shop’s contributions. The same is true for performances by an acclaimed dance company, ballet companies, chamber orchestras, museum exhibits and much more.
Typically, the fresh floral décor is replaced at least twice during the run of each event, but that varies depending on the length of the run. Mrs. March doesn’t know the exact number of arrangements donated each year, but she says it’s well into the several hundreds. Retail prices for most of the pieces, which are typically mixed arrangements comprising premium seasonal blooms including tropicals, are around $200 to $250.
    “Anything smaller will be lost in a big lobby, and if we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right,” Mrs. March asserts. She also says that, without a doubt, these proactive donations are advertising, and, she adds, “We want to display our most beautiful ads.”
Mrs. March says that Every Blooming Thing is a household name among patrons of the arts in Salt Lake City. And there’s more to it than just the exposure. “Our customers appreciate that we support causes they love,” she explains.
    Fundraisers for worthy causes are another favorite advertising vehicle for Every Blooming Thing. But Mrs. March doesn’t simply donate a few items to be among all those in an auction. She stages her own floral auction.
    Each year, as part of a home and garden festival, Every Blooming Thing sponsors “Blooming Hope,” a floral auction that features four of the shop’s designers, who create arrangements on site during the festival. Their work is later auctioned, and the proceeds, last year in excess of $4,000, are donated to a local children’s hospital.

partnering with other retailers
    Another way to get the shop’s work in front of wealthy buyers is through relationships with other retailers and service providers who target a similar clientele. One such relationship is with Daynes Music, also in Salt Lake City.
    Whenever Daynes Music sells a Steinway piano, most of which retail for $60,000 to $80,000 each, Every Blooming Thing sends a lavish “Blowout Bouquet,” which arrives the same day as the fine instrument. It’s Daynes’ way of thanking its customers for the purchase. The lavish arrangement—a huge vase filled with a mix of premium flowers—has a retail price of about $100. Daynes Music pays the full retail price.
    More important, though, is the flower shop’s access to the wealthy clients. “We know these buyers can afford to send us repeat business,” notes Mrs. March, who adds that most fresh flower arrangements in her Salt Lake City shop typically range from $65 to $100.
In addition, to decorate the music retailer’s showroom and recital hall, Every Booming Thing provides fresh arrangements. For each one that Daynes Music purchases, Mrs. March provides one the following week at no charge. Brochures near the arrangements promote the flower shop to Daynes’ customers.
    Similar agreements with other high-end businesses—including an upscale spa and fitness center, landscape and interior design firms, a custom garage designer and more—help Every Blooming Thing expand its reach to even more moneyed clientele. In a way, these high-profile fresh-flower placements are like having direct access to the organizations’ or businesses’ mailing lists, but they’re better because the flower shop’s finest work can be viewed in person rather than pictured on a brochure or mailer, which very easily could get trashed without a second glance.

printed promotions, too
    Like most retailers, Mrs. March relies on traditional marketing methods as well albeit often with unconventional tools. For example, in the shops’ monthly billing statements to commercial clients, which total about 3,500 and account for nearly 50 percent of annual revenues, staff include a promotional statement stuffer.
    But Mrs. March’s statement stuffers are beyond the ordinary; hers are four-color glossy photo prints, printed by a photo service, that feature seasonal arrangements and giftware along with the company logo and contact information. The stuffers are sized to fit a No. 10 envelope and cost just $125 to print approximately 300 per month. Every Blooming Thing prints a new one for each monthly billing cycle.
    Mrs. March also places three or four print ads in Salt Lake magazine and its companion titles—Utah Bride & Groom and Utah Style & Design—each year. The cost for one full-page, four-color ad is about $2,800. Because she has established a strong relationship as a regular customer, the magazines’ design staff create the ads for modest additional fees.
    And when the publications’ photographers need florals for photo shoots, they often call Every Blooming Thing. “If someone calls us to do bouquets or arrangements for photo shoots, we don’t hesitate. We do it,” stresses Mrs. March. “We send the florals at no charge, and we get them there when the magazines need them, no matter what the time.”
    As a result, the shop’s floral designs are regularly featured in the various magazines, including on the cover. And their contributions are prominently noted throughout the issues.
Total advertising expenditures for 2007, not including fresh flower donations, were close to $40,000. Despite the high-end appearance of the shops’ promotional pieces, production costs are reasonable, in part because of a long-time relationship with Pepper Nix, a prominent photographer who also caters to a wealthy clientele.
    “We do many events together, so Pepper has tons of pictures of our work,” explains Mrs. March. “She has been a tremendous help to us by providing fabulous artwork for our ads and putting together each of the monthly statement stuffers.”
    Recently, Mrs. Nix created a DVD of Every Blooming Thing’s wedding work, which plays Mrs. Nix’s photographs in a slide-show format. Approximately 300 DVDs cost $450 to $500, and the shop gives them to potential bridal customers.
    “Every florist would do well to make a friend of a good photographer,” shares Mrs. March. “Our alliance and friendship with Pepper has been so important, in both referrals and in having access to the very best photography of our work.”
    The quality of the photographs is especially important to Every Blooming Thing. If her flowers are to reach customers in print form, rather than the fresh versions Mrs. March so heavily relies upon, then the best possible images are critical.
    While Mrs. March is confident in her promotional strategies, she also knows that she can’t donate flowers to everything, a fact about which her husband, John, who acts as the company’s accountant, has to remind her from time to time. “He helps me remember that ‘no’ sometimes is the appropriate answer,” confides Mrs. March. Nevertheless, she knows she has to keep her fresh floral offerings in front of the region’s rich and famous because these flowers really do sell themselves.

Contact Shelley Urban at surban@floristsreview.com or (800) 367-4708.


Captions
(1) Upscale weddings, most averaging $2,800 to $5,000, are an important niche for Every Blooming Thing. This springtime bouquet demonstrates the artistry for which the shops’ designers are known.
Image by Pepper Nix Photography,
www.peppernix.com


(2) Beautiful full-page ads placed regularly in Utah Bride & Groom magazine feature Every Blooming Thing’s exquisite wedding work and reach the region’s affluent bridal customers with a compelling message.
Ad courtesy of
Utah Bride & Groom

(3) Owner Pam March founded Every Blooming Thing in 1977, intending, from the beginning, to target the region’s affluent consumers.
 
© Josh Blumental
 

(4) This inviting entryway, at the main shop in Salt Lake City, offers customers a warm autumnal welcome. The shop’s upstairs houses an art gallery, where local artists sell their work for $395 to $4,000.
Image by Pepper Nix Photography,
www.peppernix.com

(5) In Salt Lake City, the historic home’s double parlor, including one of the building’s seven working fireplaces, makes a fabulous showroom for the company’s extensive array of gifts and home accessories.
Image by Pepper Nix Photography
,
www.peppernix.com

(6,7,8) These glossy statement stuffers are inserted into the shops’ monthly billings and beautifully communicate what’s in season to some of the shop’s 3,500 commercial clients.

(9,10) Whether in lifestyle (top) or wedding advertising, flowers take center stage and sell themselves, even in print.
Ads courtesy of
Utah Style & Design and Utah Bride & Groom

(11) Located some 35 minutes from the main shop, the Draper store, also in a lovely old home, serves an affluent clientele as well, but purchasing habits for the area’s outdoor recreation enthusiasts differ from those of the well-heeled in Salt Lake City.
Image by Pepper Nix Photography, www.peppernix.com


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