If your target market includes customers who will come into your place of business, you will need a retail space that is accessible, attractive, safe, and well laid out.
Here are a few tips for setting up the retail space in your flower shop:
- A clean, well-merchandised space will be a salesperson that you do not have to pay a salary or benefits to!
- Before signing a lease or contract to buy, be sure to research the zoning requirements of your community by contacting your local zoning officer.
- Think about the parking needs of your customers, it’s important to make your store hassle-free and easy to access. Difficult parking is a hassle for your customers and if that is a challenge to walking into your store, they will just buy online for convenience.
- When you are choosing a retail space, remember the three rules of real estate… Location, Location, Location. If your location will have foot or car traffic passing by, how will you get the attention of your customers?
- Display windows have traditionally been important in downtown retail florist locations. As florists, we are lucky since our product is beautiful! It lends itself to gorgeous window displays. Imagine if you had to come up with an eye-catching display for a stationary store every month! We also do a lot of our business based on seasons and holidays-more great material for tremendous window displays.
- Window displays are not the only means of getting attention, be creative, and look around at business outside of the florist world. Think about the giant milkshake cup ice cream stands? How about the neon lights of a nightclub? How about the smells that work their way out of a bakery onto the sidewalk? What can you do to invoke the senses of people and get them to notice you?
When choosing a retail location, balance the cost of space with the dollars you expect to generate. If your business plan is based on a subscription service, placing flowers in local businesses and corporate offices, do you need to invest big money in an expensive downtown location?
Add in a healthy dose of common sense and design a retail space that fits your business plan. For example: If your target customer is a college student, your space should be in proximity to the school so the students will be able to stop in as they walk to and from classes. It should be inviting and in a style that will appeal to them. Allow plenty of elbowroom in your store, college students rarely travel alone, they will have a friend or two in tow and may also be wearing a backpack and carrying their groceries!
No matter what your target market, keep handicapped accessibility in mind.
You will need space to put your flowers together. Many traditional flower shops separate the work area from the retail area. I suppose this helps hide the clutter and the mess of a working flower shop. Please don’t underestimate the power of flowers. If you invest the energy required to keep your workspace in a presentable condition, you will reap the benefits of one of the best store displays you can have. Your customer came in to get flowers! Let them see and smell them! Use the natural advantages that flowers provide to help you compete with those other items we listed in the competition section. Let them see the expertise you are employing in creating designs; let them see what work goes into the finished product!
- Work Tables – You are going to be working every day at the tables of your flower shop. They should be at a comfortable height for designing arrangements to help minimize long-term injuries. They should have storage for florist supplies so designers can work efficiently as well.
You may also use these tables for wrapping arrangements and lining up deliveries or you may need separate tables and carts for this function, depending upon your business plan.
Sam’s Club is a good place to find sturdy work tables.
- Floor Mats – Provide some cushioning for your designer’s feet, especially when working on hard-surface floors to reduce fatigue.
Mats will also help keep floors from getting too slippery and cause an injury. Vegetative materials such as fleshy stems or flower buds are as slippery as a banana peel on smooth concrete or tile.
- Water source – A sink or soaking tub needs to be set up and large enough for flowers
- Trash receptacles – Flower shops create a lot of garbage! If your community provides a way for you to dispose of compostable materials, you can drastically reduce the cost of your garbage disposal by separating the plant material from the rest of the garbage. Large reusable trash cans work. My favorite receptacle is a waxed box that fresh greens come in! They are reusable, durable, low, and easy to drop cuttings into, drain well, and best of all FREE!
- Preservative delivery system – This can be as simple as a bucket of dried preservative, a scoop and a measured watering can, or as complicated as an automated dosing system.
- Space for telephone sales – A dedicated space, preferably somewhere quiet, with a writing surface and or computer and keyboard.
- Retail counter – A counter is a must for retail store sales. This allows you to bunch and wrap flowers in front of your customers… Let them see the flowers!! A display cooler can also double as your counter if needed.
- Specialized workstations – If you will be selling balloons and balloon sculptures, a dedicated space needs to be set up to have your tank, curling ribbon, balloons, weights, hi-float, and specialized tools all in one work area.
You will need all three of the following or a working combination of specialized florist coolers that support the important cooler functions to maximize the life of your flowers. Please see Flower Care and Handling for more important information on flower coolers.
- Display Cooler – The display cooler has glass doors and walls so that the customers can see your flowers and flower arrangements that are for sale. Ideally, customers feel welcome to open the doors and take the flowers they want. There are display coolers that do not have doors at all but have airflow engineered so that they are open. The water is kept cool and an envelope of cool air keeps the flowers cool. This removes one of the old barriers between consumers and flowers. You will see these coolers most often in Super Markets. I believe the simple fact that customers are less intimidated by the coolers at the supermarket is one big reason that Mass Market sales of flowers is the only growing segment of retail cut flower sales in the U.S. Take a cue from those that are successful and make flowers accessible for your customers.
- Work Cooler – The work cooler holds buckets of flowers that you are using to make arrangements for the day. These flowers may still be in their grower sleeves and may be mixed in the buckets. They must be rotated properly so that the first flowers in are the first flowers out.
- Storage Cooler – The storage cooler may be run only at holiday and event times… this cooler should have an adjustable shelving system. You can use this cooler to store completed arrangements or the extra flowers that holiday times require.
Be sure to consider your storage needs as buying hardgoods in volume can save you considerable money. Remember, inventory is money. If you won’t use that volume of product in a reasonable amount of time, do you really want to hold your money in floral hard goods? Compare the savings with the cost of the money you will have tied up in your stock. If you are working on a line of credit, the money you are using is costing you money in interest paid to the bank. When you buy in volume, are you saving more than the money is costing you?
Remember that there is a delivery charge associated with just about everything you buy. Balance the desire to keep inventory levels at a reasonable level with the cost of delivery on a daily or weekly basis. When you write your business plan, you should take the time needed to calculate the value of the inventory you plan to carry… and stick with it! That being said, there are just some things that will have to be stored! You need enough product to be able to run your business, fill customer’s orders, and keep your peace of mind.
Remember that funeral orders are not predictable, so you will probably need to keep a funeral hardgoods on hand. Weddings on the other hand are most often planned in advance. You do not need to keep a full complement of wedding supplies on hand. Basic glass and baskets should be kept at a comfortable level. To get started, be conservative… buy minimum amounts and buy more, as you need it. You will quickly learn what items turn more often and what items you do not need to replace.
Here are some common items to stock in a flower shop:
- Containers, baskets, glass
- Floral Foam and styrofoam
- Funeral forms and supplies
- Holiday merchandise
(normally we store it away when the season has passed-hopefully, you have planned well and gotten lucky-you sold the last Easter Basket on the last day before the holiday!)
- Rental items – If you plan to rent items such as wedding arches or specialized containers, you will need a place to store them when they are not rented.
- Hard goods supplies such as paint, ribbon, glue, wrapping supplies, preservatives
- General Supplies such as paper goods, cleaning supplies, etc.
Learn more about what supplies a flower shop needs to get started.