Living Memorials Are A Poignant Offering At Hoerr Nursery

Perennial Casket Spray Coral Bells from Hoerr Nursery
A perennial casket spray with coral bells from Hoerr Nursery.

In July 2014, Hoerr Nursery opened a new department: Tributes and Memorials.

“We were approached by John, an employee’s brother, who has worked for years in the floral industry,” says garden center manager David Ploussard. “He noticed that we had the largest selection of memorial products in our market. Combined with his knowledge of funeral and visitation arrangements and procedures, he reasoned that Hoerr Nursery could provide a niche in the memorial market.”

Hoerr’s buyer, Darlene, had worked over many years to grow Hoerr Nursery’s selection of memorial products. It was not unusual, Ploussard says, for Hoerr to receive requests to deliver these products and live plants to to visitations.

“We reasoned that John’s proposal was a natural fit, as well as an extension of our current services,” he says.

Greenhouse Grower RETAILING asked Ploussard to tell us more about how this department functions.

 

Q: Most garden retail marketing has a happy tone. How do you market a department that is inherently sad, since it’s linked to grief?

A: We have marketed our Tributes and Memorials in several ways.

  1. We hired John, a retired florist who has a passion for this service. With his passion and experience, as well as the growth of the product line, it appeared to be a no-brainer to give the Tributes and Memorials department a try. We added a design counter and displayed the memorial products around it. This was put in a less busy section of the store, so it proved to be a good location that has increased customer traffic.
  2. John contacted all the funeral homes, park districts, and cemeteries in the area. Then he stopped by to present the program. For those interested, we created brochures for the organization to hand out. This also led to contacting school districts and libraries as well.
  3. We advertised in the obituary section of the newspaper. John felt this was the logical location in the paper.
  4. We included the program on our website and promoted it on Facebook.
  5. We also created both radio and television spots to get the word out.
  6. With John’s experience, he knew that anything sent to a funeral home should have our logo visible. People are standing in line waiting at the visitation. They spend their time looking at what has been sent as well as reading the cards of who sent it. They also like to know where gift or bouquet came from. When they see something they like, they too will order from that store.

Following introduction, our marketing focus began with Tribute Trees, a symbol of love and remembrance for families. A framed photo card of the tree is delivered to the funeral service on behalf of the sender.

Participating institutions use the handouts when inquiries are made or to promote this program to prospective donors. The institutions have been receptive and excited about these win-win services. The donor and family benefit, the institution benefits, the community benefits, and Hoerr Nursery benefits.

The program is marketed for a variety of occasions. These include Unity Trees in wedding ceremonies, birth of a child, birthdays, anniversaries, retirements and any other occasion for special remembrance.

Q: Where are the tributes planted?

A: The actual tree is planted by Hoerr Nursery at the location chosen by the family. The institutions I mentioned above (cemeteries, etc.) are invited to be on our list of places willing to accept tree donations. Tree locations as well as types of trees are identified as choices for the donor. An offshoot opportunity has presented itself with cremations. A loved one’s ashes can be spread during tree planting. The tree becomes a living legacy as the tree’s roots spread among the ashes with some nutrients taken up in the tree. This becomes a suitable alternative or an additional choice for using/ saving the ashes. Trees may also be planted at someone’s home.

Q: Is there a difference in how you handle memorial trees, perennials and products?

A: We do handle them differently:

  1. Tribute Trees
    1. These are trees planted as living memorials (as opposed to stone, bronze, or granite!) in memory of a loved one who has passed away. They can be purchased by family members or by other individuals , such as coworkers, students, neighbors etc. who want to give it as a memorial gift, often in lieu of funeral flowers.
    2. The trees may be planted at the family’s home, at a park, school, library, or cemetery. Any where the family wants it planted and it can be arranged with the property owner, but the places I have listed are most common.
    3. We have talked to park districts, school districts, and cemeteries in nearby communities. Together with each organization, we have developed a list of appropriate trees for the organization, and in some cases, predetermined locations.  When individuals approach us or the organization directly, there is a brochure the individual is given with details and a list of trees and planted prices from which they can select.  The organization refers the individuals to us for handling the arrangements, if the organization was contacted directly.
    4. Once the tree is decided upon, Hoerr Nursery schedules the planting. If requested, we will schedule the planting in conjunction with a small memorial service at the same time.  Last fall, we planted a memorial tree at a nursing home prior to the mother passing away.  The family had a small service to include the mother, as she wanted to be a part of it prior to her death.
    5. We also offer the tree to be planted with the cremains, if requested and allowed where the tree is to be planted. It is not common, but we have done it.  Originally, we thought this would be an option the funeral homes could offer families whose loved one is cremated.  We discovered the funeral homes are reluctant to do this as if cuts out their sale of cremation urns, vaults, and burials.
    6. In addition to memorials of loved ones, we offer Tribute Trees for commemorative purposes, such as weddings, births, retirements, and other life events. Planting a unity tree is becoming an alternative for unity candles.  Soil from each families’ homes are combined and incorporated into the planting hole.  Births, birthdays, and retirements seem to be the most common reasons, after memorial trees.
    7. If the tree is purchased in lieu of funeral flowers, we will send the tree, if it is small enough. Most often we deliver a framed Tribute Memorial Card, which includes a picture of a mature tree, to the service.   It is displayed among the flowers and other gifts.
  2. Living Arrangements
    1. We are not a florist, so we rarely include cut flowers. However, we offer “living arrangements” that have been put together to send to the funeral home.  These most often include flowering perennials, arranged and potted, sent as a living bouquet that can be kept indoors for several days by the recipient.  As the flowers begin to fade, the perennials are planted outdoors.  The recipient is reminded of their loved one at the same time each successive year, when the perennials begin to flower again.
    2. Frequently, this is also done with flowering shrubs such as roses, lilacs, forsythia, and hydrangeas. In some cases, a shrub is planted with perennials and annuals.  We guide the buyer as to what will work well, and what is in flower at the time.  When necessary we can include some cut flowers or silk flowers.  We usually deliver it to the funeral home for the buyer.
    3. One time we did a casket spray of predominately Coral Bells, as the deceased was a Coral Bell enthusiast. Fortunately, they were in flower at the time.
  3. Memorial gifts are quite popular to be sent to funerals. Outdoor living pieces such as statues, gazing balls, memorial stones, chimes, and bird baths have become quite popular. Often some sort of arrangement is made to dress up the gift that is sent to the funeral home. Bird baths make good plants for living and floral arrangements.
    1. Wholesale vendors, carrying memorial products, have increased in the last few years. In addition, the product selection from the vendors has also increased.  Memorial Benches, plaques, statues, fountains, stepping stones, etc are more varied than before. Although we have found that people are also interested sending regular products. rather than just memorial products.  Finally, pet memorials is on the increase.  It is a popular avenue for expressing one’s sympathy and compassion, usually given from a family member or neighbor.

Q: How is the department performing?

A: This new department is a very niche service and therefore a slower start. We are beginning to see results and expect it to be popular choice as it gains momentum. It has not taken off as quickly as I would have liked, but it is on the increase. We are definitely selling more since formalizing the program. I believe it will continue to grow. While I haven’t analyzed the figures from last year, I have seen more deliveries to funeral homes as well as memorial tree plantings going out.

Q: Where is the department located within the store?

A: We have located this department in a prime location, as traffic moves toward our attached greenhouse and then to the annuals yard. Located in our atrium, the ambience of natural light and brick floor creates a warmer, more intimate setting from the rest of the garden center. Included in this area with the displays of memorial product is the design counter. Here customers may observe or participate in creating the living bouquets of perennials, shrubs, annuals, etc.

Leave a Reply

More From Retailing...

July 26, 2016

How Your Retail Plant Sales Practices Compare

Editor’s note: Greenhouse Grower RETAILING asked growers and retailers to share their pricing methods in a survey sent out in mid June 2016. Of the 362 responses, 202 arefrom those whose primary business is garden retail. We will be sharing the results of what we learned throughout July, August, and September 2016.   Discounting plants is a finely wielded weapon for plant retailers, Greenhouse Grower RETAILING‘s Plant Pricing Survey shows. It will come as no surprise that just about everyone holds sales at some point (93%). And so it makes sense that some expertise is shown. Take this first graph as an example. The most perishable plants — small annuals and vegetables — are the most likely to be placed on sale. That seems counter-intuitive. Why place the fastest turning inventory on sale? But when we took a closer look, we found that these sales are being used to lure […]

Read More
IGC 2016 Valley Forge Casino Resort

July 25, 2016

New Products You Can See At EIGC

With all exhibitor booths sold out at both EIGC and IGC Chicago, there will be plenty of new products for attendees to check out.

Read More

July 19, 2016

Are You Bar Coding Your Plants Like Other Garden Retailers?

We asked garden retailers how they bar code several plant categories. Take a look at our results and learn how in sync are you with your peers.

Read More
Latest Stories

July 26, 2016

How Your Retail Plant Sales Practices Compare

Editor’s note: Greenhouse Grower RETAILING asked growers and retailers to share their pricing methods in a survey sent out in mid June 2016. Of the 362 responses, 202 arefrom those whose primary business is garden retail. We will be sharing the results of what we learned throughout July, August, and September 2016.   Discounting plants is a finely wielded weapon for plant retailers, Greenhouse Grower RETAILING‘s Plant Pricing Survey shows. It will come as no surprise that just about everyone holds sales at some point (93%). And so it makes sense that some expertise is shown. Take this first graph as an example. The most perishable plants — small annuals and vegetables — are the most likely to be placed on sale. That seems counter-intuitive. Why place the fastest turning inventory on sale? But when we took a closer look, we found that these sales are being used to lure […]

Read More
IGC 2016 Valley Forge Casino Resort

July 25, 2016

New Products You Can See At EIGC

With all exhibitor booths sold out at both EIGC and IGC Chicago, there will be plenty of new products for attendees to check out.

Read More

July 19, 2016

Are You Bar Coding Your Plants Like Other Garden Retail…

We asked garden retailers how they bar code several plant categories. Take a look at our results and learn how in sync are you with your peers.

Read More
Sid Raisch

July 19, 2016

What Sid Raisch’s New Role At Bower & Branch …

The garden industry consultant answers questions about his new role in an e-commerce oriented company.

Read More

July 19, 2016

First Five Plants To Win 2017 All-America Selections An…

All-America Selections (AAS) has announced its first five winning plants for 2017. Three of the five are national winners, and two are regional winners. And of the five, one is an ornamental plant, while the other four are edibles. A panel of independent judges selected these plants after reviewing trial performances. AAS says all these plants are available for immediate purchase. Here’s the list of winners: Celosia ‘Asian Garden’ (2017 Ornamental From Seed National Winner). This celosia winning in North America’s trial sites makes it the first ever AAS Winner from Japanese breeding company Murakami Seed. The judges gave this entry high marks in the greenhouse for the good branching, almost bushy growth habit, and early-to-bloom flower spikes. In the garden, ‘Asian Garden’ celosia continued to bloom on sturdy stems, keeping the bright pink color all summer long, holding up even through some of the first frosts of the season. The AAS judges commented on […]

Read More

July 19, 2016

Home Depot Sues Credit Card Companies For Weakening EMV…

Home Depot has decided enough is enough. The mass merchant is suing MasterCard and Visa for colluding on interchange rates, which it claims it enforces through a monopoly, and for watering down the effectiveness of EMV chips by not requiring PINs in the U.S. In the lawsuit (read a PDF of the 140 page document), Home Depot’s lawyers state: “For years, Visa and MasterCard have been more concerned with protecting their own inflated profits and their dominant market positions than with the security of the payment cards used by American consumers and the health of the United States economy. Visa and MasterCard have pushed consumers to use payment card technology that Visa and MasterCard know is defective and subject to fraud and have colluded with each other and with the banks that issue debit and credit cards to do so. They have also unlawfully fixed at high levels the so-called […]

Read More
Sid Raisch

July 14, 2016

Sid Raisch Is Bower & Branch’s New President …

Garden retail consultant Sid Raisch is taking on a new role: President and CEO of Bower & Branch, an e-commerce tree brand for independently owned garden stores founded by Eaton Farm’s Don Eaton. The fairly new company (a little more than a year old) has 52 Northeast and Midwest-based garden retailers currently participating in the brand, and Raisch is tasked with increasing that number by another 50 to 100 garden retailers. Eaton hopes Bower & Branch will give local garden centers a broader market share. “Sid has been consulting with me on this journey from the beginning. Garden centers and growers like Eaton Farms needed to do something drastic to get the industry headed to where consumers are, and we knew that e-commerce was the way,” he says. “At first this helped us serve our customers, then it grew into something much bigger and more powerful. That’s tough to execute on your own, […]

Read More

July 11, 2016

Customer-Pleasing Tricks You Can Learn From Popular Mai…

AmericanHort hosted a day at Columbus’ high-end outdoor mall, Easton Town Center, giving garden retailers insight to what its consumer and store design research, SHIFT, looks like in action. Here are some of the standout ideas we saw: A store with a cause attracts passionate employees and elevates its products. Lush, a store that specializes in soaps of all kinds, had a steady stream of consumers going in and buying expensive soap. It may sell a seemingly simple product, soap (although in many forms, from a bath bubbler — think Alka Seltzer for your tub — to shampoo in the form of a solid bar, or just old-fashioned hand soap), but customers saw it much, much more. The walls had hand-written messages about no animal testing, about everything sold having a “handmade touch,” and several other messages, despite the stores small footprint (maybe 600 square feet. Maybe.). The sales staff […]

Read More
Birch grove at Good News Garden FEATURE

July 10, 2016

Clever Ideas You Can Steal From The GCA Tour

Garden retail tours always offer a banquet of ideas that attendees can use back at their own garden stores. That was especially true of this year’s Garden Center of America’s Summer Tour in Portland, OR. Take a look at the clever ideas I spied at the garden centers we visited, ideas that range from the simple and easy-to-implement, to others that take a little more effort, but will have a worthwhile payoff.  

Read More

July 5, 2016

New Products You’ll Be Able To See At Cultivate&#…

We went looking for what will be introduced at the summer shows in 2016. Here are the new products we're told will be at Cultivate'16.

Read More

July 5, 2016

How To Create Diverse Endcaps With 3 Elements

Al's Garden Center is a big store with dozens of endcaps in its plant department. The retailer's merchandising team took three simple items — pallet wood, crates, and wood frames — and combined them in numerous ways. Each endcap had its own look, but was visually tied to its neighbors.

Read More

July 5, 2016

Bench And Display Structure Ideas From The GCA Tour

Portland has a number of impressive garden retailers who use creative approaches to solving display challenges. Here are a number of plant and product display fixtures we spied on last week's tour.

Read More
iPad In Garden Center

June 27, 2016

Inspiring Summer Customers Without A Word Being Said

Now is the time of year to sell your customers what they like, rather than what they need. According to industry consultant Ian Baldwin, one way to do this is to use silent selling techniques and devices that help validate a purchase.

Read More
Oconomowoc

June 27, 2016

Fire Destroys Greenhouses At Oconomowoc Landscape Suppl…

The fire not only consumed the Wisconsin garden retailer's structures, but also major equipment like dump trucks. In all, the owners estimate $1.2 million in damage occurred.

Read More
Stocking spring plants at Petitti Garden Center FEATURE

June 23, 2016

How Growers Can Help Retailers Sell More In Spring

Fresh from a busy spring season, retailers share their wish list of things growers can do to make spring generate even more sales.

Read More

June 20, 2016

7 Garden Retailers Announced Closings This Month

Several established garden stores announced they were closing at the end of the 2016 season. Most of these retailers are decades old, including one that is closing after 133 years in business.

Read More

June 20, 2016

Industry’s First Plant Pricing Survey Is Open

The green industry has almost no research on plant pricing. With an industry that struggles to survive on slim margins, that's a problem. This survey is designed to help address the need, and we invite everyone to participate.

Read More
IGC 2016 Valley Forge Casino Resort

June 20, 2016

Stuff You’ll Want To Check Out At EIGC

Planning on attending the Easter Show For IGCs? Here's a list of new and interesting things you'll want to do while at the Philadelphia show.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]