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Go behind the scenes as four Royer’s colleagues start floral design training classes

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Olivia joined Royer’s part-time at the holidays in 2016. Since December, she has worked full-time as a manager trainee at the Lancaster West store.

On this mid-June 2019 morning, she is in Royer’s training room at the company’s corporate complex in Lebanon. Olivia stands at a work table, in the second row. At the table to her left is Cassie, a manager trainee at the Camp Hill store who has been on the job for four months.

In the front row, also at tables, are Cheyenne, who joined the company a year ago in Camp Hill, and Julia, who has worked in sales in Wernersville for a year and a half.

Cheyenne and Julia have some design experience, but each of the four colleagues is here for the first of what ultimately could be 18 floral design training classes in the coming year or so.

Each lasting a day, the classes will take the students from the very basics of design to the complexities of event work such as weddings.

This promises to be a hands-on experience, under the tutelage of Woody Felty, Royer’s vice president of merchandising/design trainer. He stands at the front of the room, which has its door closed to the adjacent wholesale department.

The students are eager to dive in, but they won’t even touch a flower for the first hour.

‘We are on the cutting edge’

Woody explains how design class is much more than “just learning how to stick flowers in a vase.

“You’re going to learn how to sell it. You’re going to learn how to package it. You’re going to learn how to upgrade it.”

He encourages the students to question why things are done the way they are.

“So I’m going to challenge you to ask those questions as well,” he says. “Ask me if you’re unsure because that’s how we stay on the cutting edge. … For a flower shop, Royer’s is pretty progressive. We are on the cutting edge of technology, designing and everything else for our market and for the demographics that we have in all our market areas.”

He emphasizes the importance of having fun while getting work done in a timely fashion. The key: efficiency.

“I don’t care if you’ve only been here a week, you’ve heard, ‘Be efficient, be effective,’ ” Woody says. “You don’t have to be crazy wild, you don’t have to be super-stressed or busy, steady pace.”

A student interrupts: “Work smarter not harder.”

It’s a mantra within the company, one that Ken Royer, the son of company founders Hannah and Lester Royer, taught Woody decades ago and endures today among newer employees.

Woody notes the product, time and energy that goes into making an arrangement. One of the benefits of having the classes at the corporate complex in Lebanon is that the students are only steps away from the company’s wholesale, dish garden and central design departments and the flagship retail location in the 16-store chain.

Woody notes that the basics the students learn will serve them 10 years hence if they get into event work. Teaching the basics ensures consistency within Royer’s seven-county footprint.

“If a customer orders in Camp Hill … for delivery in Reading, we need to assure them that this arrangement is going to look the same. If they saw it in the Camp Hill store … it’s going to be the same going out the door in Reading,” Woody says.

Arrangements must look like they do in photos that customers see, and they must be “mechanically sound” to withstand jostling during delivery. Woody wants the new designers to use wires when crafting their arrangements.

Royer’s carries five different thicknesses, or gauges, of wire, which can help a designer sure up a stem or position a flower a certain way.

Woody passes out a tool kit to each student, its contents including an apron, wire cutters, a knife, and a colorful, flexible piece of plastic with nubby “fingers” that suggests it would make a useful soap dish. It’s actually a flower stripper, used to remove foliage and thorns.

The stripper will make life easier for the designers, but not if they are too aggressive and damage the stem bark. If that happens, the damaged area is exposed to air and can dry out, which could cause a flower head to droop.

Like wire, floral tape comes in multiple versions: green, white and clear. Green is for use with green floral foam (and matches foliage); white is for white containers; clear for glass vases.

Floral tape can be used to create a grid across the opening of a container, which helps with arranging flowers and adds stability. Tape also helps to combine stems in a bouquet or to mask wire. Choice of color is important in helping to camouflage the tape so it doesn’t detract from the flowers themselves.

Cleaning and safety

The primary purpose of flowers in nature, Woody explains, is to set seed and reproduce. Cutting and arranging them fundamentally alters the role of flowers, but time is of the essence as flowers begin to deteriorate as soon as they are cut.

Refrigeration helps to slow down this deterioration, also known as senescence. It also limits the amount of exposure that flowers have to ethylene, a colorless and odorless gas that occurs in nature.

Fruit such as bananas and tomatoes give off high traces of ethylene and should be kept away from flowers, but bits of cut stems and leaves also emit the gas. This is why flower buckets and cooler floors have to be cleaned regularly and other preventive steps taken to remove sources of ethylene.

“A raw piece of fruit sitting on the shelf in the cooler next to a flower arrangement is going to cause that flower arrangement to not last as long as it could have,” Woody says. “You’ve reduced the potential.”

Woody next discussed safety. Royer’s requires all employees to watch a video on how to safely sharpen a knife and clean tools. After a busy holiday, knife blades get dull and turn green, reflecting a buildup of stems and vascular tissue.

“You’ve got to get that off of there because that harbors bacteria,” Woody says. Bacteria is unavoidable and requires constant vigilance. Twice each year, Royer’s requires that store coolers be emptied and cleaned with bleach.

Woody also discussed the importance of sharpening knives and scissors and using them safely and efficiently: cutting away from one’s body, seeing what is being cut, letting the tools do their jobs to reduce injury risk and bodily strain.

For efficiency’s sake, the dominant hand holds the knife continuously when designing, the other hand holds the stems and sticks them into the arrangement.

“Do not walk around the room with (the knife) in your hand,” Woody says. “If you have to walk to the cooler, close (the knife) and stick it in your pocket. Keep your knife closed.

“There’s nothing worse than walking into the cooler and you’ve got to cut a rubber band off a bunch of carnations to open them up and all of a sudden you don’t have anything to cut with. Then you’ve got to go back out, get a knife, get scissors. … Minimize those steps. We do enough steps in a day’s time, especially when we’re really busy.”

All of those details gone over (some to be elaborated upon later), it’s approximately 9:30 a.m., an hour into class.

“OK,” Woody says, “do you want to make some flowers?”

Send these Royer’s arrangements anywhere in the continental U.S. for $9.99

Family-owned Royer’s Flowers & Gifts has been a local florist for more than 80 years, with a commitment to delivering farm-fresh flowers and top-notch customer service.

That won’t ever change.

But that’s not stopping Royer’s from offering its local touch and original designs to a national audience.

Royer’s has introduced 12 new arrangements that can be shipped from its Lebanon, Pa., headquarters to anywhere in the continental United States for $9.99.

The arrangements, ranging in price from $44.99 to $74.99, require no arranging on the part of the recipient.

“Whether they’re shipping to Maine or California, North Dakota or Oklahoma, these arrangements will arrive looking like they came from the local florist,” said Tom Royer, the third-generation CEO. “And they are – the local florist in Lebanon, Pa.”

He noted that unlike some other online florists, Royer’s has no hidden fees or add-on costs.

“It’s just the stated price of the arrangement, which includes a glass vase, and the $9.99 FedEx delivery charge,” Tom said.

‘Fresher than local florists can provide’

Royer’s has offered a limited direct-ship program for years, but the new arrangements are more elaborate and more than double the number of options available to customers.

The arrangements are hand-crafted in our Lebanon store and packed and shipped by our central design department, which supplies fresh arrangements to our 16 stores in Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties.

“With the efficiency of our supply chain, central design department and shipping operation, we can deliver flowers all over the United States that are even fresher than what most local florists can provide in their own markets,” Tom said.

Tom and Geoff Royer, vice president of central operations, make regular trips to South American flower farms to check on the quality of the product they are buying. In the run-up to Valentine’s Day, they will inspect roses in the field that within two weeks are being delivered to customers in central Pennsylvania.

“We’ve developed an incredibly nimble operation in the eight-plus decades since my grandmother started growing and selling African violets to factory workers in Lebanon,” Tom said. “Now our customers have a more robust menu of Royer’s original arrangements they can send to 48 states for just $9.99 each. And they can take comfort in knowing the arrangements will arrive beautiful and fresh, no assembly required.”

 

 

Royer’s annual ‘Stems Hunger’ food drive returns June 22-July 6

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Royer’s Flowers & Gifts’ annual food drive – Royer’s Stems Hunger – returns June 22-July 6 to benefit the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and Helping Harvest (formerly the Greater Berks Food Bank).

For each nonperishable food item, donors will receive a free carnation, up to a maximum of six carnations per visit. Donations may be dropped off at any Royer’s store during normal business hours.

Forty million people face hunger in the United States – more than the entire population of Canada, according to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. The need is acute during the summer months for more than 18 million children who lose access to free and reduced-price meals through schools.

Enter the kids club birthday card contest by July 15 for a chance to win a free flower delivery

It’s like sending a gift to yourself.

One lucky child between the ages of 5 and 12 will receive a flower delivery on his or her birthday by winning this year’s Royer’s Kids Club birthday card design contest.

The deadline for submissions is July 15. The winning design will grace the official e-card that all kids club members will receive in the coming year. (Here’s how to become a member.)

One way to enter the contest is to attend the June 29 kids club event, where everyone who participates also will have an opportunity to make a sundae out of carnations. Time slots are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Registration is required by contacting your nearest store.

The other way to enter the contest is by downloading the entry form and dropping it off at your nearest store.

You’ll see the 2018 winning design at the top of this post.

To everyone who enters the contest, we wish you good luck! We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Royer’s Kids Club making sundaes on Saturday at June 29 event

Here’s the scoop on the Royer’s Kids Club event on June 29.

Children ages 5 to 12 will have an opportunity to create an ice cream sundae out of carnations and to enter the kids club birthday card design contest. Participants also will receive a balloon.

As the price of admission, children are asked to bring at least one nonperishable food item to contribute to the Royer’s Stems Hunger food drive to benefit the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and Helping Harvest (formerly the Greater Berks Food Bank).

Time slots are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Registration is required by calling your nearest Royer’s store.

The other remaining 2019 kids club events are Aug. 17 and Nov. 2.

Garden roses are back and a popular option for weddings

Garden roses, which once were the everyday rose sold by local flower shops, are back in their uniquely big and fragrant ways.

Their large blooms and strong scent not only distinguish them from today’s standard roses but also make them an increasingly popular option for weddings and other special occasions.

This is how Alexandra Farms in Bogota, Colombia, the source for most of the garden roses that Royer’s buys, toasts its product: “Garden roses are to roses what champagne is to wine.”

BRED FOR PERFORMANCE

Decades ago, Royer’s and other florists grew their own garden roses. What today is known as a standard or modern rose didn’t exist.

By the 1970s, however, an oil embargo made it prohibitively expensive for Royer’s and other domestic florists to heat their greenhouses. Meanwhile, Bogota, by virtue of lying on a plateau near the equator, enjoyed warm days and cool nights – or near-perfect conditions for rose production. (Today, the major rose-producing nations are Colombia, Ecuador and Kenya.)

But as with many things in life, there was a tradeoff: The farther away growers were from florists, the hardier that roses (and other flowers) had to be to withstand the added time and rigors involved with shipping.

So, a choice had to be made between flower bloom size and fragrance on the one hand and vase life (or how long a flower lasts once it is cut) on the other. Garden roses have twice as many petals as standard roses, which manifests as significantly bigger blooms than standard rose blooms.

“In many cases,” according to Alexandra Farms, “you couldn’t get a garden rose with a long vase life if you wanted it also to have many petals or fragrance, so [growers] moved toward standard roses. Rather than getting more beauty or fragrance in the varieties they grew, they got longer vase life. In short, [roses] lost some of their charisma in favor of performance.”

Famed rose breeder David Austin changed that by developing a garden rose genetic line specifically for the cut-flower market.

“Now, garden roses are bred for performance in addition to their charismatic qualities,” according to Alexandra Farms, “so you can have the best of both worlds.”

Meanwhile, improvements in post-harvesting techniques – from hydration methods to anti-ethylene treatments (ethylene gas can promote premature flower death) to better packaging – “have enabled us to grow more productively and ship our cut flowers around the world,” according to Alexandra Farms.

The grower said it has tested more than 1,500 varieties of garden roses for beauty but also for shelf and vase life.

ALTERNATIVE TO PEONIES

Garden roses are available in almost every color that exists for standard roses. True to their champagne reputation, garden roses cost more than standard roses, but they are a cost-effective alternative to peonies.

Garden roses are sometimes described as having “powder puff” petals that mirror those of peonies and make them a good substitute when peonies aren’t available.

Peonies require frozen soil – and therefore seasons, Alexandra Farms explained. The plants must freeze in the ground for months in order to sprout in the spring. Based on time of year and availability, peonies can be considerably more expensive than garden roses, which are available year-round.

But Alexandra Farms, which grows 61 varieties of garden roses in Colombia, noted that garden roses don’t have to be limited to weddings and other special events.

They “can be used for anything including home décor, vase work, etc.,” according to the grower. “The garden roses grown at Alexandra Farms were bred and selected for longevity, as well as beauty. They are hardy and work well for any use.”

M is for Mother’s Day and Morning News

Woody Felty of Royer’s talks Mother’s Day with Fox 43’s Amy Lutz.

Kids love flowers.

“What kid hasn’t picked flowers out of the yard and carried them inside?,” said Woody Felty, Royer’s vice president of merchandising.

Woody visited Fox 43 on May 2 to discuss Mother’s Day, which is May 11. He appeared in-studio with Fox 43 Morning News co-anchor Amy Lutz.

“My daughter thinks the yellow ones that are growing in the grass are, in fact, flowers,” Lutz said. “I have not had the heart to tell her otherwise.”

“They’re still pretty, aren’t they?” Woody said of dandelions. “Even a weed has some color and texture.”

‘Mom’s going to share’

But if plants and flowers are more to your liking, Woody offered a range of options, from traditional mixed bouquets and plants to trendier succulents and terrariums. He noted that an estimated one-third of American adults will buy cut flowers or plants as a gift for this Mother’s Day.

Terrariums, he said, are “pretty much a self-contained arrangement.” The glass dome creates condensation that then waters the plant, resulting in “a rain forest, tropical feel.”

Children like giving gifts to Mom, too. He suggested a plush teddy bear, or a box of chocolates “because Mom’s going to share.”

For mothers receiving fresh-cut flowers, Woody said, can make them last their longest by recutting the stems at least one inch from the bottom and add preservative (a packet should come with the flowers) to the water. A bouquet from Royer’s is designed to be dropped into a vase without much effort on the part of the recipient.

“It’s pretty much a drop and go,” Woody said.

To view the segment, click on this link.

Living with flowers results in ‘significant decrease’ in stress levels and improved moods: study

Working, commuting, paying bills, tending to family demands.

How do I stress thee? Let me count the ways.

If there’s too much on your to-do list, you might want to scrap it altogether and start over with a single item: get flowers.

Recent research from the University of North Florida revealed that the presence of flowers can reduce stress, according to the Society of American Florists, of which Royer’s is a member.

“The findings show that people who lived with flowers in their homes for just a few days reported a significant decrease in their levels of stress and improvements in their moods.”

One-third of people are stressed every day; women are particularly affected, with one in four of them experiencing stress multiple times daily.

“Our findings are important from a public health perspective,” said lead researcher Erin Largo-Wight, associate professor in the university’s department of public health, “because adding flowers to reduce stress does not require tremendous effort to generate a meaningful effect.”

Helpful tips

The Society of American Florists offered these tips for using flowers “to help relax and rewind”:

Experience flowers: Walk into your local florist and take a look around. Just the sight and smell of the natural beauty of flowers will put you at ease. Ask your florist to show you what’s in the cooler so you can learn about new varieties, colors and design styles.

Find peace: If you are having a bad day when it seems like nothing is going right, try flowers in soothing, tranquil colors, such as blues, lavenders and pale greens. Place a small arrangement on your nightstand or in your bathroom, so you can experience the stress-relieving benefits of flowers right before you go to bed, and right when you get up to start your day.

Help others: Sometimes the best way to relieve stress and the pressures of the day, is to do something nice for someone else. Here’s an idea: Go to your florist and buy two bouquets. Keep one for yourself, then take the other bouquet and “petal it forward” to a stranger on the street. You’ll be amazed at the reaction to your random act of kindness.

Give yourself some joy: One great way to reconnect with joy and feel less stressed is to surround yourself with simple things that make you feel happy and loved, like a colorful bunch of flowers or a blooming plant. Flowers have the power to open hearts, and when your heart is open you are more likely to focus on the positive points in your day.

Be a friend: Do you have a friend or loved one who could use a boost? Have flowers delivered unexpectedly to their door, and watch their ordinary day become extraordinary. It will make you smile, too.

Color your world: Color therapists say colors really do affect our moods. The happiest color? Orange. It promotes optimism, enthusiasm, and a sense of uplift. Choose orange flowers — roses, gerberas, lilies, ranunculus, alstroemeria, tulips — to put on your kitchen counter or your work desk, and see your mood soar.

Pepper your house with small doses of calm: When bringing home flowers from your florist, have a couple of small vases and containers available so you can place a few flowers in different parts of your living space. You’ll be amazed how many small arrangements you can get out of a single bunch of flowers, and you’ll have constant reminders to “stop and smell the flowers.”

The 2018 research from the University of North Florida builds on other university studies suggesting that flowers can help make people happy, strengthen feelings of compassion, foster creativity and boost energy.

 

Royer’s introduces fresh gathered bouquets

Do it yourself doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.

A case in point: Royer’s new fresh gathered bouquets.

Available in 13 different options (with the promise of more to come), the bouquets sell for $19.99 or $29.99 including delivery. They arrive in a brown craft paper sleeve tied with raffia, giving the package a “rustic, farmers market feel,” said Cheryl Brill, Royer’s chief operating officer – retail.

The small ($19.99) version of the Tuscan bouquet, for instance, comprises mini green hydrangea, alstroemeria, daisy poms, viking poms, carnations, mini carnations, caspia, and tree fern. The larger ($29.99) version adds two roses to the mix.

Increasingly, flower buyers like to purchase loose bouquets they can arrange themselves, often using favorite containers, Brill said.

Hands-on

Yet customers can take comfort in knowing that each fresh gathered bouquet is professionally designed with complementary colors and textures (caspia and tree fern, for instance) in mind and then hand-assembled in Royer’s stores.

This removes some of the guesswork for customers while allowing them to be hands-on at home.

Brill said she took one of the bouquets home, trimmed the stems to the appropriate length, and dropped the bouquet into a vase.

“I couldn’t be happier with how that turned out,” she said. “And if customers can do that at home, I would think they’d be very happy with that, too.”

Many customers like to purchase for themselves. Of course, as with any other Royer’s product, the fresh gathered bouquets can be sent to someone as a gift.

While fresh gathered bouquets currently are available only in Royer’s market area, Brill delivered this tidbit: soon customers will have the opportunity to ship them almost anywhere in the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Royer’s Kids Club celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with free event March 16 in all stores

They say that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

While that may be a wee bit of an overstatement, this much is true: On March 16, all Royer’s Flowers & Gifts stores are celebrating the holiday with a free kids club event.

Children ages 5 to 12 will have an opportunity to make an Irish Blessings arrangement, featuring a three-inch plant in a basket that can be decorated with green foil, satin ribbon and a glitter shamrock stick-in.

Time slots are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Registration is required by calling your nearest Royer’s store.

The other 2019 kids club events are March 16, June 29, Aug. 17 and Nov. 2.