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.
Geoff Royer had been on the go for days, including an annual pre-Valentine’s Day trip to South America to check up on Royer’s rose crop.
But on this day, Geoff’s near-constant movement was confined to Royer’s corporate complex in Lebanon, specifically the central design department where teams of associates gathered around long tables to hand-craft arrangements for the company’s 16 stores in seven counties.
Yet Geoff, vice president of central operations, stopped long enough for a brief interview with Patriot-News/Pennlive photographer Dan Gleiter.
“We’ll do about 27,000 arrangements for the holiday,” Geoff explained, the room bustling behind him. “Fifteen thousand or so of those will be roses. We’ll also do mixed bouquets, rose bunches and loose flowers, as well. We’ll do about 10,000 deliveries on Valentine’s Day itself.”
Meanwhile, PBS39’s Berks County reporter Brittany Sweeney visited Royer’s Reading store for her look at Valentine’s Day. She spoke with Jenni Eberly, Royer’s market manager in Berks County.
“With the vases prepped and the flowers pruned,” Sweeney began her story, “less than a week out, Valentine’s Day hustle is under way.”
“This is our Super Bowl,” Jenni explained. “We get very excited.”
She explained how Geoff and his uncle, CEO Tom Royer, painstakingly review their specific flower crop at farms in South America and then follow the shipment as it makes its way through U.S. customs in Miami and onto tractor-trailers for the ride to Lebanon.
“Because even though we’re dealing with this huge volume, we don’t ever want to sacrifice quality,” Jenni said.
That volume totals a half-million roses and carnations at Valentine’s Day. Each one of those roses is “individually touched and cleaned and the thorns stripped, any of the bad petals peeled off so the roses look perfect for their arrival to the customer’s home.”
Asked what he was purchasing, customer Robert Latshaw said: “Definitely roses because I think that’s what everybody wants. Stick with tradition, right?”
Despite the volume, the flowers pass through Royer’s in short order.
“It comes in and goes out very quickly, and at the end we’re helping a lot of people be heroes to their loved ones,” Jenni said. “It’s great.”
It took more than 40 years of playing golf, but Jack O’Hara recorded his first hole-in-one on June 5, 2018.
He was part of a foursome participating in a senior men’s league at Spring Creek Golf Course in Hershey. They were on the eighth hole.
“Hit the green about four inches behind the hole, [the ball] curled around, dropped in,” he said. “That was really fun. We all just kind of jumped and started screaming.”
At 65, O’Hara still brings plenty of youthful enthusiasm to his job as a seasonal independent delivery driver for Royer’s. He has been with Royer’s since Valentine’s Day 2015, having responded to a newspaper help-wanted ad shortly after moving to the area from Richmond, Va., with his wife, Terrie.
“I love doing this,” he said one afternoon at the start of his shift. He was wearing boots, jeans, a fleece jacket and a ball cap.
O’Hara spent 40 years in the printing industry, during which he was a customer service manager overseeing 19 customer service representatives in five states. Covering that much territory meant plenty of time behind the wheel, time that he put to good use.
“A lot of windshield time, a lot of time to put your mind together, reflect, and think about how you can make someone’s day,” he said. “Customer service has always been one of my things that I’m really proud of.”
‘Instant love affair’
He credited his father, who was a funeral director in Pleasant Mount, Pa., for teaching him customer service and other skills. As a customer service representative himself, O’Hara worked on major accounts from across the country.
“You learn how to treat people,” he said. “You treat people well, that will come back on you 100 times. I always taught my CSRs to think positively. If your day starts off bad, it’s OK, start it over. It’s not the end of the world. There’s no issue or error that cannot be fixed. Forty years, I’ve been able to bring that with me.”
From his first Valentine’s Day with Royer’s, he said, “It was an instant love affair for myself. I wanted to do something. I’d been looking around. Being new the community, this opportunity helped me to learn a lot about the area, the community, and meet a lot of people.
“A lot of people that I deliver to, I deliver to maybe two or three times a year,” he said. “And it’s always great to go back and see someone, say hi.”
That first year, he also worked at Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. More recently, the store has needed him on additional occasions. He typically works three-hour shifts for Royer’s. (During the golfing season, he also works in the pro shop at Spring Creek Golf Course.)
He offered this endorsement to anyone interested in becoming a seasonal independent delivery driver for Royer’s:
“If you’re looking to do something, and if you’re the type of person that likes to meet people, talk to people, and help people out, I think it’s a great opportunity,” he said. “I think it’s something people should at least check out. I really find it very fulfilling. If you can bring some joy into someone’s life, I think that means a lot.”
If you or someone you know would like additional information about seasonal independent delivery driver opportunities, please call or stop by your nearest Royer’s store and ask for the delivery room manager.
Liz Bazewicz still marvels at what she saw that first winter some 15 years ago when she first joined Royer’s Flowers as a holiday helper.
“The volume,” she said. “I had no idea what was involved in putting together Valentine’s Day.”
As Cupid comes calling once again, Royer’s is counting on seasonal mainstays such as Bazewicz to augment its regular staff during what amounts to the floral industry’s version of the Super Bowl.
Royer’s has a range of holiday helper openings with flexible hours available at royers.com/careers.
Bazewicz initially was drawn to Royer’s at a point when her three children were sufficiently grown and she wasn’t needed at home all day.
“I was bored, and the opportunity arose [with Royer’s],” she said. “I saw an advertisement in the newspaper for Valentine’s Day, and I knew I loved being around flowers, so I thought I’d give it a try.”
Bazewicz has always worked at the Hershey store. She’s a fixture at major holidays and during homecoming season, primarily to wrap orders but also to help with any number of other behind-the-scenes tasks.
“I am still amazed at the planning and the organization that it takes to pull off these holidays,” she said, “and how successfully they do it. Speaking more than three weeks before Valentine’s Day, she noted that Royer’s already was in production for the holiday.
“It’s such an incredible well-oiled machine in terms of timing and personnel and getting everything done in a timely fashion so that there are no crises,” she said.
Asked what she likes most about her job, Bazewicz cited teamwork.
“Anybody that’s coming in new is going to be trained properly on what needs to be done,” she said. “They don’t have to feel like they’re going to be left alone to figure it out on their own. It’s well orchestrated.
“And we have fun. We really, honestly do. We joke around. And because people are so helpful toward me, I try to be so helpful toward them. So there’s a real camaraderie that I feel is really important. I literally wouldn’t come back if I didn’t feel cared about.”
Bazewicz, 61, noted that floral work is fast-paced and physically challenging.
“Number one, you are on your legs all day long, period, amen, end of story,” she said. “And there is lifting, there’s no question about that. And if you’re not comfortable or able to do that amount of lifting, then certainly you ask for help.”
It’s good, hard work for someone who wants to be physically active, Bazewicz said, that brings with it a deep sense of satisfaction.
“To be a part of this process where you can pull this off is almost an amazing accomplishment,” she said. “You need to be prepared to work hard. But I think it’s very rewarding. A job well done.”
Royer’s is teaming up with the Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank to host blood drives at three stores this winter.
Anyone attempting to donate to “Buds for Blood” with receive a free bouquet.
On Jan. 31, Royer’s stores at 201 Rohrerstown Road, Lancaster, and 805 Loucks Road, York, will host bloodmobiles from 3 to 6:30 p.m.
The third blood drive is March 16 at the Camp Hill store, 3015 Gettysburg Road. It will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., coinciding with that day’s Royer’s Kids Club event.
Appointments are not needed, but donors should have ID, eat within four hours of giving blood, and stay well hydrated. Orange juice and snacks will be provided after they donate.
Winter can be a challenging time for blood banks, in part because severe weather and cold and flu season can reduce the number of blood drives and the pool of potential donors. The busy holidays also reduce the amount of time people have to donate. Yet demand for blood is high because increased traffic at the holidays results in more accidents.
The Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank works to promote, secure and coordinate the region’s blood supply. The non-profit organization supplies blood to area hospitals, where each day patients use between 275 and 300 units of blood and products derived from blood.
Royer’s Flowers today presented the American Red Cross with more than 4,000 holiday cards and coloring pages for area military veterans.
Royer’s collected the cards and coloring pages at each of its stores from Nov. 11-Dec. 4 as part of its annual participation in the Red Cross’ “Holidays for Heroes” program. The items will be delivered to veterans living in long-term care facilities throughout the region.
With a fresh-cut Christmas tree, you can bring a little bit of nature indoors.
But Andrea Campbell didn’t stop there with Royer’s contribution to the inaugural Christmas Tree Showcase in Hershey, describing her embellished evergreen as having a “natural, outdoorsy” vibe.
“As if you took a walk in the woods,” said Andrea, who has been with Royer’s for 12 years and has managed the Hershey store for one year.
Royer’s was among six area florists involved with the Christmas Tree Showcase, an exhibit that opened Nov. 17 at the Milton and Catherine Hershey Conservatory at the Hershey Gardens. The six decorated trees surround an ersatz 14-foot poinsettia tree, comprising red and white versions of the traditional Christmas plant.
Andrea, assisted by Hershey sales associate Lexi Miller, used lotus pods, shelf fungus, tree branches, pine cones and the like to achieve the rustic look of their tree. Hershey Gardens provided eight-foot-tall trees to the florists, who brought their own decorations.
Andrea said it took approximately an hour and a half to decorate the tree on Nov. 13.
“It’s kind of my creation, and Lexi helped me put the vision together,” Andrea said. “Because it’s a lot of tree to decorate.”
The flip side is that it’s a lot of tree to behold, which you can do from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Dec. 31 (closed Christmas).
It seems like just the other day we were kicking off the 2018 Royer’s Kids Club schedule with a Valentine’s Day-themed event. We’re not sure where the time went, but we had a lot of fun with everyone who attended one or more of our five kids events throughout the year.
The photos above are from our final event, held Nov. 10 in each of our stores and featuring a Veterans Day theme.
Thank you to everyone, children and parents alike, for participating this year. We love having you in our stores and sharing our knowledge and passion for everything related to flowers.
We wish everyone a safe, happy holiday season. Meanwhile, we are putting the finishing touches on plans for another great kids club schedule in the year ahead. We can’t wait to tell you all about it!