Shop staff pick up litter three
times a year. Although it took some effort to get this
particular roadway, near the shop in Commerce Township, it was
worth it. Mr. Berry estimates that 100,000 drivers pass by this
sign daily, which is paid for by the Michigan Department of
Wesley Berry Flowers, in the Detroit metro area, relies on well-planned
community involvement to serve and become known to potential customers.
by Shelley Urban
can help others, you should,” says Wesley Berry, president of
Wesley Berry Flowers, a five-store chain in Detroit and the
surrounding region. “But there’s nothing wrong with being smart about it
and coordinating your community service so there’s some benefit to your
business,” he points out. Judges for our “Retail Florist of the Year”
competition, co-sponsored by the Wholesale Florist & Florist
Supplier Association (WF&FSA), couldn’t agree more and chose Wesley
Berry Flowers, founded in 1946 by Mr. Berry’s parents, Wesley and
Florence Berry, as our 2009 winner for Outstanding Community
Involvement. Wesley Berry Flowers, which Mr. Berry co-owns with his
wife, Mi Lee Berry, was nominated by Nordlie, Inc. in
promoting racial harmony
When it comes to community service, Wesley Berry Flowers is
known to be a giving shop. But, in order to sustain the giving, Mr. and
Mrs. Berry, along with John Keeler, director of community relations,
plan and schedule every opportunity to the company’s benefit.
“Otherwise,” notes Mr. Berry, “we won’t be able to afford to keep doing
One terrific example of the shop’s well-planned, perfectly
timed service is its rose giveaway in celebration of Martin Luther King
Jr. Day (the third Monday in January). Approaching its eighth year, this
event is like FTD® Good Neighbor Day® in that Wesley Berry Flowers gives
away roses by the dozen with the stipulation that recipients keep one
and give away the rest in a gesture of unity.
“Originally,” explains Mr. Berry, “we started this in support
of the United We Walk march held on that day. We wanted to do something;
we just had to figure out what,” he explains.
Roses proved to be the perfect vehicle to drive the shop’s
message of unity and to increase shop awareness just a few short weeks
before Valentine’s Day. “Typically, January is a rather slow time in the
flower business. It’s also a time when there’s a glut of roses on the
market because growers are timing production for Valentine’s Day. And,”
he adds, “it’s great to have us associated with roses three-and-a-half
weeks before Valentine’s Day.”
Community leaders, ministers and local celebrities are
invited to assist with the rose distribution, and the events always
garner tremendous media coverage. According to Mr. Berry, folks line up
early, and the line stretches down the sidewalk and around the corner.
And, he notes, “It’s cold in January.”
“But the energy is tremendous,” describes Mr. Keeler. “As
they’re standing in line, they’re talking about where they’re going and
who they’ll share the roses with. We’re creating a strong emotional
connection with our customers.”
For the 2009 holiday, Wesley Berry Flowers gave away 10,000
roses, or about 830 dozens. In addition to getting customers thinking of
the shop and its roses just before the biggest rose holiday of the year,
people who visit also see the merchandise on display, much of which,
according to Mrs. Berry, starts at about $10.
Products are displayed in mass quantities for impact. Plush,
which Mrs. Berry says is among the shop’s best-sellers, covers an entire
wall and ranges in price from $5 to $500. But fresh-cut flowers attract
attention as well. “We have a 1,000-square-foot walk-in cooler that is
filled with 10,000 stems on an average day,” Mr. Berry shares.
As Rotarians, Mr. Berry and Mr. Keeler are always looking for
opportunities to support the community through Rotary Club activities.
So three years ago, when the club discussed a fundraiser for cancer
research, the month of October, which is National Breast Cancer
Awareness Month, was a great fit.
To raise money, the Rotary Club sells pink carnations for $3
each. Wesley Berry Flowers donates the pastel blossoms—some 400 each
year—to help the club meet its goal of donating $1,000. While the sale
is publicized, the florist’s involvement is not heavily promoted, except
among the Rotarians, who appreciate the service and repay the shop by
being loyal customers.
With its reputation for giving well established in the
community, Wesley Berry Flowers receives donation requests regularly.
Gift certificates are common for fundraisers, but designers also create
centerpieces and other décor, usually at a retail cost of $3,000 to
$5,000, for charitable events as they can. “We limit that to once per
month,” Mr. Berry confides.
But when it comes to deciding which events to do, he adds,
it’s important to choose those that make sense and that drive awareness
of the shops and their services. “Our first requirement is that the
organization be nonprofit. The second requirement is that it must be in
close proximity to us,” Mr. Berry describes. “After that, we give
priority to things for children and to real outreach organizations [that
According to Mr. Berry, another important consideration is
timing. “If we’re asked to donate product for two events, and one is
three weeks before Mother’s Day and the other is one week after, we’ll
pick the one before,” he explains. That way, the donation can help to
increase the shop’s reach before a busy holiday.
While the list of the shop’s charitable donations goes on for
pages, including hospital fundraisers, youth sports teams, and more, the
Optimist Club Christmas party stands out. “We provide gifts for 250
needy children—wrapped and handed out by Santa—and our staff volunteer
for the event,” Mr. Berry shares.
cleaning up the streets
On a busy stretch of highway between two Wesley Berry Flowers
locations is a sign that tells of another of the shop’s community
outreach efforts—participation in the Adopt-A-Highway program. This
particular highway ends near the store in Commerce Township, so the
aforementioned roadway—the minimum two-miles required to participate—is
close to this shop.
The sign, viewed by some 100,000 passers-by daily, is
provided at no cost to Wesley Berry Flowers. The only cost is the time
to pick up the trash, which is done three times annually, plus the
incentives that Mr. Berry uses to encourage staff to sign up to
participate. “We always have more people sign up than we need to do the
job,” shares Mr. Berry, “but we want to make it a privilege, so everyone
who signs up is entered to win something in a drawing—usually a gift
card to local restaurants.”
When they’re out working on the roadsides (they have to clean up both
sides of the two-mile stretch), Mr. Keeler says, “Passers-by often stop
to express appreciation for our work.” That alone is gratifying. Knowing
that this valuable service also makes potential clients aware of Wesley
Berry Flowers is a bonus.
||Wesley Berry Flowers
Wesley Berry and Mi Lee Berry
Number of locations: 5
Locations: Downtown Detroit, Northwest Detroit, Canton,
Commerce Township, and West Bloomfield, Michigan
10,000 square feet at flagship store in Commerce Township, Mich.
all income levels
Average sale of all merchandise: $65
Average fresh flower sale: $50
Number of employees: 50
Contact Shelley Urban at email@example.com or (800) 367-4708.
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