Seasonal decor makes an inviting
entryway at the floral and gift shop. Large, colorful displays -
to capture the attention of commuters on the busy highway
alongside The Rhoads Garden - are key elements of the
Staff at The Rhoads Garden master the challenges of displaying a
diverse array of products in a way that entices customers.
by Shelley Urban
fresh-cut flowers, baby clothes, wall art, cookbooks, home furnishings,
jewelry, flip-flop sandals, and green and blooming plants all fit
together cohesively in a retail space? That’s the question that
Assistant General Manager David Ramsey, who handles the shop’s
merchandising, and the rest of the floral and gift staff address every
day at The Rhoads Garden in North Wales, Pa.
While it may seem like a bit of a puzzler, the crew at The
Rhoads Garden answers the question so effectively that judges in the
“Retail Florist of the Year” competition, co-sponsored by Florists’
Review and the Wholesale Florist & Florist Supplier Association (WF&FSA),
chose the company as our 2009 winner for Outstanding Merchandising and
Display. The Rhoads Garden was nominated by Younger and Son, Inc. in
floral and gift go big
The 7.5-acre complex, located in an affluent suburb about 15
minutes outside Philadelphia, is a visual potpourri of products for
beautifying spaces, both outdoors and in. Anyone who passes by on the
busy highway will be drawn by the wealth of merchandise on display,
which includes, throughout the complex, nursery and landscaping
products, items for garden décor and design, fresh flowers and giftware,
and much more.
According to Tom Rhoads, who is a second-generation owner
along with his brother David (their father and an uncle established the
business in 1939), The Rhoads Garden’s most popular merchandise ranges
in price from $20 to $500. Blooming plants are among their best sellers,
but Mr. Rhoads notes that wall art is also big. In addition, “Pottery,
garden gifts and bird feeders are also popular,” and these, he says,
typically sell in the $20 to $150 range.
Many of these wares can be found in the 13,000-square-foot
garden center, which comprises three greenhouses and, depending on the
time of year, is filled with sweeping waves of colorful bedding plants,
hanging baskets overflowing with greenery and/or blooms, intriguing
garden décor and much more.
Attached to the garden center, accessible via sliding glass
doors, is the two-story atrium and floral and gift shop. The space, a
replacement for one of the company’s original greenhouses, totals 10,500
square feet of showroom and includes, above the flower shop, another
3,900 square feet that serves as a floral design center. The expansive
atrium/floral and gift center is filled with the broad range of
merchandise for which The Rhoads Garden is now known, and Mr. Rhoads
reports that floral and gift sales account for 30 percent of the
company’s total revenues.
go with the flow
On one side of the large building, a seasonally decorated
entryway welcomes customers into the floral and gift shop. Immediately
to the left of the main entrance, a display cooler showcases fresh-cut
flowers and arrangements, and a sales counter dedicated to serving
flower buyers is positioned nearby.
Permanent arrangements are
cross-merchandised with stylish home decor in this section of
the massive floral and gift shop.
Autumnal colors and textures, gathered in bold bursts across the
7.5-acre grounds, demonstrate the range of decorating options
for the harvest season.
The shop's array of furniture goes beyond the typical patio
fare, but the collections merchandise wonderfully with the
myriad plants, floral arrangements and accessories also on
The sun-filled atrium houses a wealth of exotic green and
blooming plants. The wall of clear glass, along with statuary
and fountains from the garden center, suggest a conservatory
In the garden center, a koi pond is a centerpiece around which
plants, fountains, statuary and more are displayed.
Beyond the floral shop is the gift area that, according to
Mr. Ramsey, “surrounds the whole flower shop area.” Closest to the
checkout counter, shoppers will find the “boutique” department, filled
with many items considered “impulse” buys such as beautiful jewelry,
stylish handbags, hot new SwitchFlop sandals and other “affordable
luxuries.” Across from that is “Rhoads Buds,” a section for babies that
features clothes, blankets and bedding, gifts, and more. There are also
departments filled with fun books and games, primarily for children;
cool kitchen and bar ware; candles and cards; home décor items such as
permanent florals, wall art, and home furnishings and accessories; and
so much more.
The key to maintaining order and making the various types of
products easy for shoppers to find, according to Mr. Ramsey, is to keep
everything organized by department and to create distinct zones. In
addition, he notes, “Related departments are located near each other, so
everything seems to work together.” The departments flow naturally from
one to the next.
Helping maintain the flow are the well-defined paths that
guide customers throughout The Rhoads Garden. “Ceramic tile walkways
lead shoppers through the floral and gift department,” Mr. Ramsey
describes. “And products that we want to focus on are positioned near
the walkway,” he adds.
The walkway leads into other parts of the retail area as
well, including the grand atrium. Here, bright sunlight streams in
through banks of tall windows, and potted plants of all types,
especially tropicals and other exotics, drink it in. The ceiling is 25
feet high at its peak, and, oftentimes, plants are suspended overhead,
maximizing the already vast floor space.
“Customers are drawn in by colorful displays of blooming
plants, which are visible [through the windows] from the highway,”
shares Mr. Rhoads. At the floor level, large potted plants are
clustered, so they’re easily noticed while smaller pots are placed on
tables, risers and cedar benches. “Smaller plants are grouped together,
and cedar benches of different elevations create height and depth,” he
Colorful plant groups are placed together along the walkway,
at the entrance and along the windows, so they’re also visible from the
highway. “We focus on bright, colorful displays, indoors and out. Color
sells everything in floral, gift, atrium and nursery,” Mr. Rhoads
reports. Among the blooming plants, orchids and bromeliads are top
careful cross merchandising
While the need to separate and distinguish the various
departments is apparent, cross-merchandising is still a necessity. “We
constantly bring items into the showroom that are usually displayed
outside, such as fountains and garden décor. We try to give customers
ideas how to use our products at home or as gifts,” Mr. Rhoads explains.
Nevertheless, items are carefully paired, to prevent
departments from becoming cluttered and indistinguishable from each
other. “For example,” shares Mr. Ramsey, “in the atrium, we have a big
display of orchids, and we have all the items needed for them. We have
orchid pots, orchid bark, [orchid-specific] plant food and decorative
moss.” Fountains nearby add ambience and contribute to the
conservatorylike quality of the atrium.
Likewise, in the bird section, which is located in the gift
shop, very near the atrium, most products are for the care of wild
birds, such as houses, feeders and food, and related items such as
reference books and cameras. Mr. Rhoads confides: “We just sold a ‘bird
cam’ for $250.”
But, says Mr. Ramsey, “we also have gifts with bird motifs.
For example, in the hummingbird area, we have coasters and towels with
hummingbirds on them.” Statuary and fountains or bird baths are ideal
near this location as well.
Placing these items in the gift department, rather than the
garden center, is a surprise to some newcomers, but getting shoppers to
think of them for both gift and self-purchase has had a positive impact
on sales. “They’re selling really well in the gift department,” Mr.
Pottery is also natural for cross-merchandising. Ceramic
vases and pots are typically found in groups by the floral display
cooler and are included, according to their color palette, in the home
furnishings and décor department.
change is good
Seasonal transitions across all divisions of The Rhoads
Garden keep the company’s 50 employees working hard throughout the year.
During the upcoming holidays, banks of bright poinsettias will beckon
passers-by, and grapevine reindeer are likely to be found grazing in the
atrium’s loft. “Displays are usually changed every other week,” Mr.
Some departments change even more often. “The boutique area
changes the most,” shares Mr. Ramsey. “We get something new almost every
day.” While Mr. Rhoads concedes that during busy times, revisions happen
a little less often, he says, “It’s critical to stay fresh and keep [our
departments] up to speed.”
With so many different products to move around, maintaining a fresh feel
is probably easier than maintaining a cohesive presentation that seems
logical to shoppers. But with careful planning and organization, along
with strategic cross-merchandising, the diverse product mix is
The Rhoads Garden
Owners: Tom and
Number of locations: 1 retail center, including gift and
floral shop, garden center, and nursery
Location: North Wales, Pa.
Shop size: entire retail grounds encompass 7.5 acres:
10,500-square-foot floral shop, gift shop and atrium;
3,900-square-foot floral design center; and 12,800-square-foot
Clientele: professional affluent men and women
Average sale of all merchandise: $75 to $100
Average fresh flower sale: $60
Number of employees: 50
Contact Shelley Urban at email@example.com or (800) 367-4708.
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