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A Guy’s Guide to Flower Buying

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There’s a gender gap when it comes to buying flowers: Women buy 65 percent of fresh flowers, according to the Society of American Florists, while men buy 35 percent.

To the extent that men might be intimidated or uncomfortable buying flowers, we’d like to make the experience a more enjoyable one for them.

To do this, we tapped the expertise of Cheryl Brill, Royer’s vice president of retail operations. Cheryl shared these insights based her more than 20 years of experience in the flower business.

Roses are red – and lots of other colors

Too often, men think only of roses for their significant others, and then only in red. Cheryl encourages male customers to be more adventurous, whether it’s with other colors of roses, other flower varieties, or other looks such as a textured garden appearance.

Don’t stop at Valentine’s Day

Maybe the tendency to focus on red roses has a lot to do with Valentine’s Day which, let’s face it, is ruled by red roses. But the year has only just begun when Valentine’s Day rolls around, so why not mix it up for the 364 days that don’t fall on Feb. 14?

What’s more, 63 percent of flower purchases are for the buyer, compared with 37 percent as gifts. And 86 percent of purchases are for non-calendar occasions, 50 percent of which fall into the “no special occasion” category. The bottom line is that people like to receive flowers any day of the year.

Bouquets don’t have to break the bank

Flower prices tend to rise around Valentine’s Day, in concert with a spike in demand for what is the floral industry’s equivalent of football’s Super Bowl. If that’s the only time of year that you purchase flowers, you can get a warped sense of how much they cost on a day-to-day basis.

Cheryl described how a $7.99 rose bunch made a positive impression on one male customer, who realized that he could afford to be a more frequent flower buyer.

Get the right vase

If she likes to arrange flowers, Cheryl said, then get her a vase that lends itself to arranging and one that fits the décor of the room where it will be used. Does she tend to put flowers on the kitchen counter or on the coffee table?

You don’t have to DIY

In this age of do-it-yourself, there’s a tendency to think that we must go it alone with everything. Rest assured, your trained florist is eager to help. It starts with the right container; she noted that it doesn’t have to be a plain, clear vase. Either bring one in, or your florist can help you select one.

Think about what you want to say

Before you visit or call your florist, Cheryl advised, think about the words you want to send along with the flowers. She said florists are a bit like bartenders: they’ve seen and heard everything, so don’t be embarrassed. Speak from the heart because the sentiment is just as important as the flowers that it goes with.

Valentine’s Day is an oasis amid the darkness of winter, Cheryl said, but it’s nice to see male customers the rest of the year, too.

Back in Bogota for the big Proflora trade show

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The last time we joined Geoff Royer in South America, it was in the run-up to Valentine’s Day. Geoff, area manager, and his uncle Tom Royer, senior vice president and chief operating officer, were checking on the quality of roses being grown just for Royer’s customers for the holiday.

Early October found Geoff and Tom back in South America, half of their time spent at farms and the rest at the big Proflora floral trade show in Bogota, Colombia.

Unlike most florists, Royer’s acts as its own wholesaler, distributing fresh flowers to its 16 stores in seven counties. Dealing directly with growers gives Royer’s more control over costs and quality but warrants a continual presence in South America.

“It’s important to us to look at the farms because that is where we can see if problems are starting to develop,” Geoff said. “It’s also the last place our flowers are before they are boxed up and sent to the U.S.”

Meanwhile, that same desire to stay ahead of events is why Geoff and Tom attended Proflora. As a preview of what’s coming, the show allows Royer’s to be on the forefront of procuring the best products for its customers.

It is held every two years so that floral buyers and growers alike can see what’s new and what’s coming in the floral industry. The show exhibitors range from flower food makers and logistics companies to, of course, breeders and growers.

“It is start to finish what a wholesaler needs to complete their job,” Geoff said.

Specific goals

It’s typical for Royer’s to approach the show with specific goals in mind. This year, the focus was on finding additional growers to meet Royer’s needs for poms and limonium.

Specifically, Geoff said, poms (as is true for other types of flowers) used in arrangements should have long laterals, which is the distance from a flower to its main stem. The longer, the better, in terms of appearance in an arrangement.

“We have a pom grower now that does very well with this, but we are continually looking for who else is growing what we are looking for,” Geoff said.

“With the limonium (also known as caspia), we use a specific variety and are searching for another grower of it. It helps us at holidays to ensure we can get the supply that we need.”

Among the other Proflora highlights:

  • In the show’s variety competition, one of Royer’s carnation growers, Geoflora, and its breeder, S.B. Talee, won two awards for carnations and one for ranunculus.
  • Geoff and Tom saw new spray rose varieties. Spray roses typically used to be smaller, Geoff said, with a lower petal count. They didn’t last as long and tended to open very quickly. The new varieties not only have higher petal counts but are much larger. Royer’s potentially can use them in corsage and wedding work or even in vases.
  • Geoff and Tom also saw several new varieties of red roses. Currently, Royer’s most-used variety is called Freedom. It has a high petal count, and when it opens is just beautiful. Everyone is looking for the next Freedom, Geoff said.
  • Garden roses also are becoming more popular, mostly for weddings and event work. Alexandra Farms, a group Royer’s is just starting to work with, grows multiple varieties of garden roses. These include David Austin varieties, named for the renowned English breeder whose roses are regaled for their beauty and scent.

“The most exciting things about the garden roses is the smell,” Geoff said. “In many cases the scent of flowers has been bred out of them. Scent and vase life are typically linked. Garden roses still have the scents and they are typically larger bloom sizes.”

Geoff and Tom will head back to South America early in the new year, ahead of Valentine’s Day, as the cycle repeats itself.

Fox 43 appearance: (home)coming attractions

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Homecoming can be a nervous time for high school students.

Never mind asking someone to the dance; it can take real courage when it comes to choosing your date’s corsage or boutonniere. Rest assured, Royer’s is here to help.

That was part of the message shared today by Erica Bixby of Royer’s when she visited Fox 43 Morning News. Erica and host Amy Lutz discussed homecoming stalwarts and newer options.

“There’s a lot of fun things that are trending this year,” Erica said. “There’s floral prints. Our most popular colors are navy, blush, burgundy, those pretty fall colors.  …

“If you’re not sure what color the dress is, that’s OK. Our most popular one is very simple, it’s white sweetheart roses with babies breath. And, of course for the guy, we’ll always do the matching boutonniere.”

Among the changes Royer’s has witnessed, Erica said, is corsages with one big flower, such as a mini gerbera. It’s a trend she described as “fun and flirty.”

‘Every one is different’

Standard corsages start with a white ribbon but can be spray painted (she demonstrated with green) to match a dress color. A variety of ribbons, bracelets and rhinestones can be added, as can, of course, a rainbow of flowers to make for a one-of-a-kind look.

“It’s really like artwork,” Amy said.

“And every one is different,” Erica said, “which makes it fun.”

As an alternative to a corsage, Erica suggested a hand-tied bouquet, such as the one she held up featuring sunflowers, solidago, mini green hydrangeas, Italian ruscus, and seeded eucalyptus with a burlap bow.

Erica noted that it’s a good idea to consider a date’s mother, too, at homecoming.

“It’s always good to bring mom some flowers,” Erica said, holding a rose bouquet.

“And that’s [true] for the guy or girl,” Amy said.

“Or if somebody’s hosting for pictures, it’s always nice to bring them a little something.”

To view the segment, click here.

Of course, you’ll find homecoming help at all of our stores, or try out our corsage builder.

Highlights from our fall catalog

Every year, we introduce a fall catalog that contains approximately 20 percent new products. We asked Geoff Royer, Royer’s area manager and a member of the product development team, to describe how some of the new arrangements came about. Here’s what he told us:

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One of the tasks of the product development team was to come up with more arrangements that are specific to birthdays. This arrangement does just that with the birthday bear that’s attached to the vase.

This is the fourth in our lineup of Big Hugs vases. We also have redesigned the baby boy and baby girl versions of that style.

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We realized in the spring that we could do better on the pricing of the mini callas than we had before so we opted to develop a few arrangements with them.

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This collection of arrangements is a new style for us, each one in a nine-inch glass bowl that we’d never carried before. We used them in some new lifestyle shots we are using to enhance our brochure and websites.

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This addition features several flowers that are new to us, namely the Memphis daisy pom, charmellia alstromeria, and Nobbio cherry carnation.

We had featured Memphis at previous holidays. We loved the color and the lateral lengths on the daisy but no one grew it year-round until now.

Charmellia is a new product in the floral world. It lasts incredibly long and, as it opens, it changes from dark pink to a lighter pink.

The colors and variegation of the Nobbio cherry petals are like nothing we’d ever seen. This carnation is from a farm called Geoflora, which is associated with South American carnation breeder S.B. Talee.

Talee developed the Nobbio series in response to a Japanese market that wanted something beyond the standard red, white and pink combination with a longer stem length. We can take the sizes the Japanese markets don’t want at a good price.

Refresh: Royer’s launches new website

Temperatures go from warm to cool, green leaves turn gold, red, orange.

And just as fall is the season of change in the natural world, it can be in the digital realm, too.

At Royer’s, this fall coincides with the launch of our new website. It’s still at royers.com, of course, but it has a fresh, crisp new look and functionality that should make the shopping experience even more fulfilling. (This look also is evident in our e-blasts and printed fall catalog.)

Among the improvements, both functionally and aesthetically:

  • The website now features “responsive” design, which means that it adjusts to the size of the browser in which it is viewed. We realize that customers shop online from different-sized screens, from desktop to laptop, tablet to smart phone.
  • Additional filters help shoppers more readily find what they’re looking for. For instance, instead of just searching by price across all products, it’s now possible to narrow that search by categories. Soon you’ll be able to filter by flower and color, too.
  • Arrangements are shown bigger and scale according to screen size.
  • Text is set against transparent colors, allowing more of the background flower images to shine through.
  • If the curvy page designs have a familiar feel, it’s because they are macro-views of actual flower shapes. The size, color and placement of the shapes are not determined by templates but rather are unique to each layout. This allows the layouts to remain fresh and change with the seasons.

What do you think of our new website? We’d like to hear from you. Please share your comments below, or let us know the next time you visit one of our stores.

Dawn of a new arrangement: introducing Farmhouse Sunset

Being a professional interior designer, Kristin Iwancio said entering Royer’s name-the-arrangement contest was “totally in my wheelhouse.”

Indeed, it was.

Iwancio, of Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County, submitted the winning name – Farmhouse Sunset – among 639 total contest entries.

“I love sunsets, so why not go with that? I’m never up early enough for sunrises,” she quipped.

The new arrangement includes two short-stemmed orange roses, a mini green hydrangea, a hot pink spray rose and purple statice.

It measures 13 inches high and nine inches wide.

Although Farmhouse Sunset won’t be available to the public until fall, Iwancio received one early.

It was her prize for naming the arrangement.

Oh, Atlanta, we hear you calling

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We don’t procrastinate when it comes to holiday shopping. In fact, no sooner is one Christmas in the rearview mirror than we start planning for the next one.

It’s not that we’re eager for the passage of time. Rather, we’re beckoned by AmericasMart in Atlanta, which describes itself as the nation’s leading gift, home furnishings and area rug wholesale marketplace.

In Atlanta, we might purchase containers bearing a Christmas decoration, or snowflake or snowman stick-ins to complement an arrangement. We source Christmas décor at AmericasMart but also gifts that customers will give at the holidays, such as a picture frame.

A half-dozen Royer’s representatives visit AmericasMart’s three-building, 7 million-square-foot complex every January, buying gifts and arrangement accents for the next Christmas season, and again in July, when the focus will be on the next spring.

Focus on larger gifts

Jenni Eberly, Royer’s market manager, has made six trips to Atlanta, so she’s a veteran now. But as a first-time visitor, she found the experience daunting.

“It’s overwhelming,” she said, “looking at all that merchandise set out in the displays. Because then you have to take these huge displays and then pick out what you’re going to buy.”

As vast as AmericasMart is, Royer’s spends most of its time on five floral and holiday floors. In July, the group arrived in Atlanta on a Wednesday and worked through Friday. The pace is constant, and even lunch and dinner conversation turns to what each of them has seen from vendors.

Geoff Royer, whose great-grandparents started Royer’s, coordinates the Atlanta trips. He sets up meetings with specific vendors. He also arms each member of the Royer’s delegation with a folder that identifies, by holiday, items on their shopping list.

The needs range from broad to specific. In January, some of the focus was on larger gifts, such as clocks, afghans and pillows that are relatively new for Royer’s. In July, one of the goals was to find new versions of a heart stick-in and accent ribbon to give a new look to an existing arrangement.

Erica Bixby, Royer’s store manager in Lebanon, has been to Atlanta three times. With experience, she has learned to think beyond the initial appeal of new products to identify how they will work in Royer’s stores.

How will they complement other items, and will they work given the price at which they will have to sell, including once freight costs are factored in?

Something might look nice, Erica suggested, “but you can’t really sell it for $50.”

Moments of inspiration

Technology has made it easier to document the trips. Photos taken with a tablet or smart phone are invaluable for jogging memories. After all, Christmas giftware purchased in January won’t arrive until summer or fall.

Photos also capture moments of inspiration.

“I have a bunch of things that I liked for silks,” Erica said, with an eye toward Royer’s crafting similar arrangements in-house rather than buying them already made.

“Or I take pictures of displays that I’d like to duplicate in the stores,” Jenni added.

On her phone, Jenni pulled up a photo showing how one vendor used eye hooks and ropes to display pillows.

“It’s up, it’s still in the display, but it’s out of the way,” Jenni said, noting that pillows are vulnerable in a flower shop, where the need to water plants is constant.

One week after returning from the July trip, Erica and Jenni were in Royer’s central design department in Lebanon. Looking around them, at tables filled with arrangements being created or revamped for fall debuts, they estimated that 30 percent of the items were from Atlanta.

“That container, that container, that container,” Jenni said, pointing at specific arrangements. “That vase. Those deer [figures]. Those are all things that we picked up in January.”

Entries due July 31 for this year’s name-the-arrangement contest

One of our new arrangements, debuting this fall, has all kinds of color, thanks to two short-stemmed orange roses, a mini green hydrangea, a hot pink rose spray and purple statice.

But what the arrangement doesn’t have is a name. This is where you come in.

Royer’s is holding an online name-the-arrangement contest, with the winner receiving one of the arrangements as his or her prize.

The deadline for entries is July 31. Limit one entry daily per email address.

Click here to enter.

Good luck!

Plants and pets: know the facts to keep dogs and cats healthy

No plant says Christmas quite like the poinsettia. But nary a holiday season goes by without poinsettias being negatively associated with pet health.

Yet the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says poinsettias “may be the most misrepresented plant when it comes to toxicity. Since 1919 poinsettias have been called lethal if ingested by pets. However, many animal studies have shown that it is just not true.”

Relatively few plant and flower species are dangerous to pets, and the effects can range widely.

As the ASPCA notes, poinsettias and other holiday plants are not good for pets to ingest, potentially irritating the mouth and stomach and sometimes causing vomiting, but generally are “over-rated in toxicity.”

The same can’t be said about lilies and cats. Eating just a couple of leaves or licking a few pollen grains off their fur can quickly cause kidney failure, according to CBS News.

“A cat that’s eaten part of a lily will vomit soon afterwards, but this may gradually lessen after two to four hours. Within 12 to 24 hours, the cat may start to urinate frequently. Urination may then stop if kidney failure occurs. If untreated, a cat will die within four to seven days after eating a lily.”

This is the case for any true lily — belonging to the plant genus Lilium — including Easter lily, tiger lily, rubrum lily, Japanese show lily and certain species of daylily.

In contrast, the calla lily, peace lily, lily of the valley and Peruvian lily (alstroemeria) are not true lilies and won’t cause kidney failure in cats although they have other toxic principles, according to the Pet Poison Helpline.

If you love plants and pets, then it’s a good idea to consider which ones are the best fit for your home. Here are several resources:

The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center offers an exhaustive, sortable list of plants that are toxic or non-toxic to dogs and cats. The list focuses on plants “that have been reported as having systemic effects on animals and/or intense effects on the gastrointestinal tract,” according to the ASPCA, which cautions that the list is not meant to be all-inclusive.

If you think your animal is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance, the ASPCA suggests contacting your veterinarian or its 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435.

The Humane Society offers an informative — and highly alliterative — list of “plants potentially poisonous to pets.”

The Pet Poison Helpline offers its Top 10 Plants Poisonous to Pets.

Of course, as the Pet Poison Helpline notes:

“While there are thousands of species of plants and flowers, only a small percentage of plants are truly dangerous and poisonous to your pet.”

Revive your roses with these easy steps

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Even when handled with great care, the heads of your beautiful roses could drop over within a few days of receiving a bouquet.

It’s not that the flowers are old. Rather, it’s likely that an air bubble got stuck in the stem, preventing water from getting in.

With these easy steps, you can bring the roses back to a robust state:

1. Fill a sink with 2 inches of water;

2. Remove the roses from their vase and submerge the stems in water;

3. While they are submerged, cut the stems (scissors are fine) approximately 2 inches from the bottom. A diagonal cut is best as it provides the most surface area for water to get in;

4. Allow the stems to soak in the water for an hour.

When you place the roses back in the vase, they should be in good shape once again. Be sure to add the plant food that your florist should have provided.