competitors partner for Christmas

Seven enterprising florists work together in London, Ontario to increase sales for all.

  by Shelley Urban
  Photos by Rachel Lincoln, Rachel Lincoln Photography
 

The charming flier, designed by the print shop who joined in the efforts as a partner, was mailed to designated postal codes and used by each florist to promote the 2009 Holiday Inspiration Tour. The group printed 40,000 fliers for the 2009 event.

     Turning negatives into positives just comes naturally to some people. Tony Manders, AIFD, CAFA, who owned Regency Florists in London, Ontario, was one of those people. In 2008, when he and several other  London florists, including Gammage Flowers, learned that their floral design skills were no longer needed for an annual holiday tour of homes, they decided to join forces and promote the floral industry, and their stores, as a group. They dubbed it the “Holiday Inspiration Tour”—a joint open house event on a grand scale involving any florists who wanted to participate.

     That first year, six florists were on board, and the tour attracted visitors to all shops plus provided support for a local charity.  For 2009, the tour expanded to seven shops.
 
     “We have to be like farmers and make hay while the sun shines,” Mr. Manders said last November, as he prepared for the 2009 Holiday Inspiration Tour. “The Christmas season is the time when, if we work hard, we can make a lot of money, so we [have the resources] to rest later.” And working together, he pointed out, was the best way to make the most of the holiday season.

     Sadly, Mr. Manders passed away unexpectedly just a few months later, in April 2010, but his hard work, and that of the six other florists on the tour, attracted more shoppers and more charitable donations for Mission Services of London during the 2009 tour. Let their efforts inspire you to make the most of your Christmas season.

support for the industry and community
     After conceiving the plan to formalize a group approach to the holidays, Mr. Manders, along with Gammage Flowers Owner Judite Holder, contacted other florists who had participated in the home tour, and Operations Manager Melissa Leeming generally “put out the word” to other florists. “Any florist was welcome to participate,” Ms. Leeming recalls. “Although we are one another’s competition, we thought we could make for a better floral community by working as a collective unit to promote and support one another.”

     The florists also agreed that the tour provided a great opportunity to make the community better through support of a local charity. The primary requirement was that it had to be local. “We wanted the donations to be used right within our city,” Ms. Leeming shares.

     With these two goals in mind, the first Holiday Inspiration Tour, in 2008, was off and running. When the group convened in June of 2009, to plan for the November ’09 tour, which was held Nov. 7 and 8, the goals remained the same, with just a few tweaks to the plan required. In addition to Regency Florists and Gammage Flowers, these florists were on board for the 2009 Holiday Inspiration Tour: Argyle Flowers & Design Studio, McInnis Flowers & Gifts, McLennan Flowers, Richmond Florist and Springhill Flowers.
 

High-end permanent botanicals and luxurious ribbon lavishly accessorize a grand wreath on display at Argyle Flowers & Design Studio.

Chic, ready-to-display tabletop trees in alternative materials such as feathers and glittered metallics give customers delightful options for the traditional tannenbaum.

 
  at a glance  
 

Holiday Inspiration Tour

Location: London, Ontario, Canada, a city of approx. 350,000 residents that lies about 125 miles northeast of Detroit on the banks of the Thames River

Number of shops: 6 in 2008; 7 in 2009

Cost to participate: $2,000 per florist in 2009

What that bought: 40,000 fliers mailed to targeted postal codes; 1,000 visitor “passports”; 100 posters hung in flower shops and neighboring businesses; radio advertising valued at $12,500; and a $1,250 cash donation to the charitable
 

 

... To read more about the tour and to see all seven florists, look to the July 2010 issue of Florists' Review.

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

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