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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.”

The making of our Tartan Poinsettia

Inside our version of Santa’s workshop, the talented employees of Royer’s are handcrafting thousands of holiday arrangements in our central design department.

Here’s a glimpse into the making of just one version: Our Tartan Poinsettia, featuring five-plus blooms and measuring 16 to 18 inches in height.

We’d like to make one especially for you. It’s as easy as clicking here to place your order.

New Christmas decorations are on the march to our stores

We’ll have a fresh look this holiday season as we introduce a variety of new store decorations, from candles and gift-wrapped packages to ornamental stars and toy soldiers standing 8 feet or more.

They’ll be unveiled publicly in early November, but we thought you might enjoy a sneak peek.

 

‘One Tank Trip’ takes 69 News viewers behind the scenes to show how Royer’s prepares for the holidays

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What was an Allentown-based TV news station that has a Berks County edition doing at Royer’s corporate complex in Lebanon?

Seeing how merry is made, that’s what.

WFMZ-TV’s 69 News sent reporter Karin Mallett and photographer Patrick Manwiller to Royer’s as part of the station’s weekly “One Tank Trip” series.

Royer’s has three Berks County stores, in Reading, Shillington and Wernersville.

Tom Royer, one of Royer’s third-generation family owners, showed his guests the Lebanon operations, which include the company’s flagship store, distribution center, greenhouses, and central design department.

“Like Santa’s workshop,” Mallett said in her story’s introduction, describing central design, “but in lieu of toys, flowers. Lots of them. About 20,000 poinsettias will go out for the holiday.”

You can view the story here:

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5 ways for children to celebrate National Grandparents Day

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Marian McQuade was an expert in grandparenting. A West Virginia mother of 15, she had 43 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

If McQuade’s name doesn’t ring a bill, her work no doubt will. She was the founder of National Grandparents Day, which President Jimmy Carter signed into law in 1978.

National Grandparents Day is held on the first Sunday after Labor Day (Sept. 13 in 2015; Sept. 11 in 2016; Sept. 10 in 2017). September was chosen to signify the autumn years of life, according to Legacy Project.

To help celebrate the holiday, the Royer’s Kids Club offers five activities that children can do for or with their grandparents:

Send flowers: OK, this is an obvious one, but our founder, Hannah “Mom” Royer, was a doting grandmother and much loved by her grandchildren, as was her husband, Lester.

Make a card: Draw a pretty picture and write a note to tell your grandparents how much they mean to you.

Interview them: Grandma and grandpa have seen and experienced a lot of things in their lives. This handy interview form can help get you started. Listen closely to their answers because you can learn a lot.

Trace your family tree: Here’s a family tree chart that will make it easy to identify the people in your family by generation.

Read a book together: The kids club is a big believer in the power of reading. Here’s a terrific reading list to get you started.

Of course, there is an endless list of things that grandchildren and grandparents can do together.

What are some of your favorites?

 

 

Poinsettia primer: learning about and caring for the most popular holiday plant

Poinsettias

We typically think of the North Pole when it comes to Christmas, but the most popular holiday plant originates with our neighbor to the south.

Poinsettias are native to Mexico and were introduced to the United States in 1825 by Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico.

In fact, Poinsett’s death in 1851 is commemorated every Dec. 12 as National Poinsettia Day.

Some other facts:

  • The colored parts of poinsettias aren’t flowers but bracts (leaves).
  • Poinsettias have been called the lobster flower and flame leaf flower.
  • Poinsettias are not poisonous, to humans or pets: An Ohio State study found that a 50-pound child who ate 500 bracts (leaves) might have a slight tummy ache.
  • Poinsettias are commercially grown in all 50 states. For instance, the 20,000 poinsettias that Royer’s receives each year are from Lancaster County.
  • Ninety percent of all poinsettias are exported from the United States.

Source: www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/poinsettia 

HOW TO CARE FOR POINSETTIAS:

  • Average room temperature is fine; they cannot tolerate cold.
  • Bright light is best, as they originate from the warm, bright southwest and Mexico. If given ample sunlight, they’ll last well into the new year.
  • Avoid keeping a plant too wet, they like moist but not wet. Frequency and amount of water will vary depending upon amount of sun, humidity in house and pot size.

Barry talks Thanksgiving flowers and Christmas wreaths with Fox 43 Morning News

Barry Spengler with Fox 43 Morning News' Amanda McCall.
Barry Spengler with Fox 43 Morning News’ Amanda McCall.

Before his latest appearance on Fox 43, Barry Spengler stopped at a drugstore for a bottle of hairspray.

It wasn’t an act of vanity. Rather, Barry brought it to the TV studio as a prop for his visit with Fox 43’s Amanda McCall.

She introduced Barry, Royer’s vice president of operations, by noting: “The food certainly is important, but don’t forget the Thanksgiving centerpiece.”

Barry brought two centerpieces, including a small one made in a wicker basket that looked like a turkey and a larger one to show how simple it is to convert from Thanksgiving to Christmas use.

If you’re visiting for Thanksgiving, Barry recommended loose flowers as a hostess gift.

“This always works,” he said. “It works like a champ.”

If you’re the recipient of loose flowers, Barry suggested creating a tape grid — essentially an X across the opening of your vase — to support the flowers.

As for the hairspray, it’s Barry’s not-so-secret tip for making Christmas wreaths last longer. It acts like glue to hold the wreath together and gives it a nice sheen.

“It will glue it together,” he said. “It will make (the wreath) last so much nicer. It won’t get that brown hue as fast. It will hold up so much nicer against the wind and the sun and all that.”

You can watch the full segment here:

You’re invited to our holiday open house, Nov. 29-30

There’s no need to stop at Black Friday. What are you doing the rest of the weekend?

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Join us for our annual holiday open house. All of our stores will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

We’ll be offering:

• 30 percent off Christmas silk arrangements
• Door prizes
• Free balloons for children both days
• Refreshments on Sunday

And through Dec. 5, all of our stores are collecting holiday cards and coloring pages for the American Red Cross’ “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program. For details, click here.

Of course, we’ll have lots of beautiful flowers, plants and giftware available, too, as we usher in the holiday season.

We hope to see you there.

Royer’s stores collecting ‘Holiday Mail for Heroes’ Nov. 17-Dec. 5

Holiday Mail for Heroes Recipients

Royer’s Flowers & Gifts and the American Red Cross are teaming up this year to deliver “Holiday Mail for Heroes.”

From Nov. 17 through Dec. 5, Royer’s stores will collect holiday cards and coloring pages that will be delivered to patients at the Lebanon VA Medical Center. Red Cross volunteers will organize the cards and tie them with ribbons for hand delivery to the veterans.

Cards may be dropped off during normal business hours.

The Red Cross, which created the national “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program, offers these guidelines for preparing cards:

• Include messages of support and thanks;
• Use generic salutations such as “Dear Service Member” as cards addressed to specific individuals can not be delivered through this program;
• Don’t include letters or inserts such as photos;
• Don’t include email or home addresses on the cards: the program is not meant to foster pen pal relationships;
• Sign your name to them;
• Refrain from choosing cards with glitter as it can aggravate health issues of ill and injured warriors.

Coloring pages are available at all Royer’s stores or can be downloaded here, courtesy of Coloring-Page.net:

 

The making of our fall catalog

Our 40-page fall catalog arrived in tens of thousands of mailboxes in October. (If you didn’t receive one, you can pick up a copy at any of our stores.)

With each of our catalogs, we change approximately 20 percent of the product lineup. Ultimately, it’s our customers who determine which arrangements stay in the lineup over the long haul.

Royer's Fall 2014 catalog

How an arrangement makes it into the menu is an exhaustive process. It’s a long way from auditioning for a role to walking the red carpet, in other words.

Weak-selling arrangements are removed, or they are redesigned to give them a more current look. Sometimes an arrangement is discontinued because its container is no longer available.

Once we know how many items are being removed, we begin developing the new items. Inspiration comes from visiting other florists; from walking through gift trade shows in Atlanta and Dallas; from visiting container suppliers to spot trends in colors and styles.

Some of the ideas come from previous holiday selections. If a Mother’s Day item sells out early, for instance, we know there is strong customer demand for it, and it could get into the lineup.

Flower growers are part of the process, too, as we constantly seek out new suppliers. They must be able to provide premium product on a consistent basis. Currently, we are testing flowers from Ethiopia.

In late May, a small team pulls together new containers, flowers and ideas in order to develop new arrangement concepts.

Value engineered

Once we have the concepts, a team of designers turns them into actual arrangements, collaborating on some items or coming up with their own interpretations on others.

We buy flowers in all varieties and colors to keep our lineup fresh and interesting for our customers and designers alike. We also want flowers that we know will be available for at least a year.

With the arrangements made, the original group reconvenes in June/July to make final selections.
The arrangements are “value engineered” to give the best value to our customers. Perhaps better-priced flowers or containers can be used without upsetting the integrity of the designs.

Finally, the approved arrangements are professionally photographed for inclusion in the catalog.

And now it’s in the hands of our customers, who will vote with their pocketbooks and ultimately determine which arrangements stay in our lineup.