EXCLUSIVE: How SpartanNash Gears Up for Valentine’s Day Rush on Flowers

Progressive Grocer talks with the company’s floral merchandising manager about preparing for one of the busiest weeks of the season
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
a woman smiling for the camera
SpartanNash Valentine's Day floral
After nearly six months of preparation, SpartanNash's floral departments are fully stocked for the onslaught of last-minute Valentine's Day shoppers.

It’s been a busy week for grocery store trips, between preparations for the Super Bowl game on Feb. 11, Mardi Gras on Feb. 13, the beginning of the Lenten season on Feb. 14 and Valentine’s Day also on Feb. 14. Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest holidays of the first quarter, and the National Retail Federation (NRF) projects that consumers are going big on love this year, with total spending on significant others for the holiday expected to hit a record $14.2 billion.

Flowers, of course, are a top gift for Valentine’s Day. According to NRF, 39% of consumers plan to buy flowers for this occasion, behind greeting cards (40%) and candy (57%). 

[RELATED: Grocers Feeling the Love This Month]

Grocers expect a rush at the floral department on the day before and day of Valentine’s Day, as shoppers look for blooms to show their affection for loved ones, family members and friends. For retailers, getting ready for one of the busiest floral weeks of the season comes much earlier.

“It is a process. We start way back in September, to identify what our products will be offered, and we also look to solicit orders for the holiday. Now, we are full in stock for the last minute rush,” reported Jennie Garbarek, floral merchandising manager at SpartanNash.

In an exclusive interview with Progressive Grocer, Garbarek said that Valentine’s Day inventories and promotions include hard goods like plush toys and candies and an array of floral items such as potted plants, orchids and fresh-cut flowers. To ensure the freshest blooms, the retailer works closely with its partners in the supply chain and leverages technologies. “Communication is really important in working in a highly perishable industry because you have to be quick to act and communicate, not just with the store team but the leadership of the store," she explained, adding, “We have a pretty solid supply chain network and utilize the cold chain, including our refrigerated transportation, logistics and warehouse that ensure maximum freshness for long-lasting flowers, from the moment they are harvested all the way to the sales floor.”

Garbarek and her team also collaborate with suppliers to offer floral products that are popular with today’s shoppers, including standard favorites like roses to cheerful mixed bouquets to longer-lasting houseplants. “Our roses are an amazing value, and rose are still No. 1 – they continue to be that one item when you think of floral for Valentine’s Day,” she remarked. “We’ve pulled some data showing that over half of consumers purchasing flowers for Valentine's Day are purchasing roses.”

SpartanNash cross-merch
SpartanNash's buyers and merchandisers collaborate to create displays that make it easy for shoppers to pick their Cupid's Day gifts.

In addition to offering many rose options, including glitter roses, tie-dye roses and different colors of roses, SpartanNash also sells a lot of mixed bouquets and arrangements for Valentine’s Day. Potted plants have become increasingly popular over the last few years, as more people consider themselves “plant parents,” she added. “We are always looking at new plants and varieties and partner with amazing growers.”

SpartanNash sources its flowers and plants from a broad network of growers, including some nurseries in its own backyard in West Michigan and others in Ecuador, Columbia, Costa Rica and Canada. “I think that’s the most favorite part of my job – I get to speak to so many growers from across the world,” Garbarek said. 

As Feb. 14 approaches, flowers in SpartanNash-owned stores are moving around. “First and foremost, getting floral up in front of the store for major holidays like this is important. You have to make it super easy for shoppers to make a selection,” Garbarek pointed out. “We are a customer-focused food solutions company and want to best serve our customers by giving them what they are looking for without having to search for it. It also showcases what your store can do, and sets a tone for you to be a flower source for the community.”

The retailer is also trying to make the process easier for store teams, too. “We offer several in shipper display boxes. It’s really easy for a lot of our stores to just take the lid off a bucket that holds the flowers. All you have to do is open it, sign it and sell it,” she noted. 

Given that it’s an earlier Easter this year on March 31, the floral teams will move right into spring occasions. “It’s really going to be coming up quickly,” Garbarek said.

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based SpartanNash operates two complementary business segments – food wholesale and grocery retail. On the retail side, SpartanNash operates 144 brick-and-mortar grocery stores, primarily under the banners of Family Fare, Martin’s Super Markets and D&W Fresh Market, in addition to dozens of pharmacies and fuel centers. The company is No. 41 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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