A retail gift experience in a modern florist shop

Whoever said “It takes a village” must have had Happy Canyon Flowers in Denver, Colo., in mind. This unique gift store boutique is a successful niche business model founded on out-of-the-box retail flower shop thinking. It is the exceptionally talented, career diverse and hardworking staff whose combined collective talents are the key to this success story. The sign on the outside of the building might read “Flowers,” but when you walk through the doors, the experience speaks for itself.

Looking for the right kind of shop to buy

For owner Alex Jackson, AIFD, AAF, PFCI, his road has been long but filled with learning experience. “I was 28 when I started washing buckets,” he shares. “I later became a professional florist and an operational manager. Two years ago, I was looking for the right kind of shop to buy with a good customer base. I purchased Happy Canyon Flowers. I have a hardworking staff and loyal customers. Presently I own two shops and am building out to three. But the secret of our success is the staff. They are exceptional and do an extraordinary job for all our “guests” who come into the shop. I sweep the floors and write the checks.”

Hiring staff from different industries

Searching for the right fit, Jackson went outside the floral industry to build a diversely talented team, with the same goal of ensuring all guests are happy guests. This core of experts is led by Holly Hoffman, a professional visual merchandiser for 38 years, and Nancy Barton, the sales manager who has worked in retail for years.
“The key to our success is the combination of Nancy and Holly,” comments Jackson. “Nancy provides an extraordinary customer service experience, and Holly creates a unique environment. Holly knows flowers but is not a florist. She works in a flower shop. Her experience is extraordinary.”
“I can put flowers in an environment,” Hoffman shares. It is about looking at the height, the color, the space. I understand the retail world. I gravitate toward creating beautiful environments that are shoppable for our guests. We create an experience when you come into the store. There will be four or five candles burning and music playing. All this creates an environment.”
Barton adds, “I manage the staff, and it’s all about customer service. Everyone we hire is a team player, everyone has a specific job, and everyone enjoys working here. Guests come in to see the merchandise we have, and they tell us this is their happy place to shop.“

A unique training process

“We have seven staffers in the sales department who answer calls and ring up sales and other tasks,” explains Jackson. “They are the front of the house and handle 98 percent of our guests. We also have a design team of five. We hire good people, and I train them to be florists. We motivate and empower them, and it is amazing what they do. It takes a while to find good people. We want outstanding. We look at their work ethic and their character. It takes a lot of training, and we are not talking just about taking flower orders. We have them in for two to four days and evaluate them.”
“We put them on the floor for four to six hours, for two or three days, to see how they like it,” Barton explains. “We watch to see if this is for them. It must be a mutual fit. We go to them, and they come to us, to ask if it is working. Sometimes they tell us they are not a good fit.”
“You also have to pay them,” Jackson smiles. “You get what you pay for.”

One-of-a-kind gift experience

“Our customers like us, and our neighborhood supports us,” shares Jackson. “Holly and Nancy are able to find and procure items that are new, unique and different, from all around the world. We chose to hunt for the best products in a line for our neighborhood. We have a passion for finding small new lines, and it’s been successful. We bought from 140 vendors last year.
This separates us from other flower shops. Our guests will come in all dressed up, on their way to a wedding, to buy their gifts. They tell us, ‘I don’t need to think about it because I know you have what I need.’ We wrap it and put a bow on it, and out the door it goes.”

Tip for success

“We have a very clean store,” Jackson proclaims. “It costs very little to have a clean store. It helps enhance the experience. Invest in good people and good products, and clean your store.”