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Highlights from our fall catalog

Every year, we introduce a fall catalog that contains approximately 20 percent new products. We asked Geoff Royer, a member of our product development team, to describe how some of the new arrangements came about. Here’s what he told us:

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One of the tasks of the product development team was to come up with more arrangements that are specific to birthdays. This arrangement does just that with the birthday bear that’s attached to the vase.

This is the fourth in our lineup of Big Hugs vases. We also have redesigned the baby boy and baby girl versions of that style.

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We realized in the spring that we could do better on the pricing of the mini callas than we had before so we opted to develop a few arrangements with them.

3631 and 3633
This collection of arrangements is a new style for us, each one in a nine-inch glass bowl that we’d never carried before. We used them in some new lifestyle shots we are using to enhance our brochure and websites.

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This addition features several flowers that are new to us, namely the Memphis daisy pom, charmellia alstromeria, and Nobbio cherry carnation.

We had featured Memphis at previous holidays. We loved the color and the lateral lengths on the daisy but no one grew it year-round until now.

Charmellia is a new product in the floral world. It lasts incredibly long and, as it opens, it changes from dark pink to a lighter pink.

The colors and variegation of the Nobbio cherry petals are like nothing we’d ever seen. This carnation is from a farm called Geoflora, which is associated with South American carnation breeder S.B. Talee.

Talee developed the Nobbio series in response to a Japanese market that wanted something beyond the standard red, white and pink combination with a longer stem length. We can take the sizes the Japanese markets don’t want at a good price.


Refresh: Connells Maple Lee launches new website

Temperatures go from warm to cool, green leaves turn gold, red, orange.

And just as fall is the season of change in the natural world, it can be in the digital realm, too.

At Connells Maple Lee, this fall coincides with the launch of our new website. It’s still at cmlflowers.com, of course, but it has a fresh, crisp new look and functionality that should make the shopping experience even more fulfilling. (This look also is evident in our e-blasts and printed fall catalog.)

Among the improvements, both functionally and aesthetically:

  • The website now features “responsive” design, which means that it adjusts to the size of the browser in which it is viewed. We realize that customers shop online from different-sized screens, from desktop to laptop, tablet to smart phone.
  • Additional filters help shoppers more readily find what they’re looking for. For instance, instead of just searching by price across all products, it’s now possible to narrow that search by categories. Soon you’ll be able to filter by flower and color, too.
  • Arrangements are shown bigger and scale according to screen size.
  • Text is set against transparent colors, allowing more of the background flower images to shine through.
  • If the curvy page designs have a familiar feel, it’s because they are macro-views of actual flower shapes. The size, color and placement of the shapes are not determined by templates but rather are unique to each layout. This allows the layouts to remain fresh and change with the seasons.

What do you think of our new website? We’d like to hear from you. Please share your comments below, or let us know the next time you visit one of our stores.


Connells Maple Lee donates $580 to Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer REse FOR BREAST CANCER RESEARCH

Connells Maple Lee has donated $580 to the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

For each sale of its “Power of Pink” arrangement, Connells Maple Lee donates $10 to breast cancer organizations, including $2,370 to the Stefanie Spielman Fund since 2015.

The Stefanie Spielman Fund supports breast cancer research, including genetics, as well as technology needs for research, patient care, medical education and training on breast cancer at the OSUCCC – James.

The Power of Pink arrangement, redesigned annually, is available year-round.

Photo: Andrew Royer, regional manager, Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts, and Erika Beasley, assistant director, community partners program at the OSUCCC-James.


Planting the seeds for a successful school year

Air plants are great for cleaning air.

New shirts, new shoes. Backpacks and notebooks. No doubt, one or more of those items was on your shopping list if you’re a parent preparing a child for the first day of school.

Don’t forget a little something for your child’s teacher and classroom.

A plant is a great option, not only for aesthetic reasons but certain ones help to improve indoor air quality. What’s more, the presence of plants has been shown to boost productivity and reduce stress, which can enhance a learning environment.

With the help of Connells Maple Lee’s Cheryl Brill and other resources, we compiled a list of plants that will help sow the seeds for a great new school year.

Cheryl’s list started with Chinese evergreens (aka aglaonemas), peace lilies, philodendrons and spider plants, each of which is great for cleaning the air, she said. What’s more, they’re easy to take care of and don’t require a lot of bright light.

As their name suggests, spider plants have tendrils or plantlets that grow out from the mother plant.

“That would be kind of fun for a grade-school situation,” Cheryl said.

For more on plants and air quality, click here.

Classroom conversation

Meanwhile, air plants aren’t that effective at cleaning the air, Cheryl said, but they are intriguing because they grow without soil. Also known as tillandsia, air plants are a type of bromeliad and relative of the pineapple.

Air plant leaves have scales, called trichomes, that absorb water and nutrients from the air.

“We just dunk them in a bucket of water every week or so,” Cheryl said, suggesting how easy it is to care for air plants.

The air plant’s unique characteristics alone make for a great classroom conversation. What’s more, they’re available at Connells Maple Lee in quirky “thinkers” containers.

Thinkers is what we want students to be, after all. Another plant option that can captivate a classroom is a terrarium, which only needs to be watered weekly. Cheryl described them as “neat to look at” and as providing “a little tranquil spot.”

Heaven knows, a bustling school can use a tranquil spot or two.


Connells Maple Lee Kids Club celebrates Grandparents Day with free event Sept. 9 in all stores

The Connells Maple Lee Kids Club will celebrate Grandparents Day with a free event Sept. 9 in all stores.

Children ages 5 to 12 will have an opportunity to make a special gift for Gram and Grampy: a fall arrangement featuring pompon daisies. Participants also will receive a balloon.

Time slots are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Registration is required by calling your nearest Connells Maple Lee store: 3014 E. Broad St., Bexley, 614-237-8653; 2033 Stringtown Road, Grove City, 614-539-4000; and 8573 Owenfield Drive, Powell, 740-548-4082.

Grandparents Day is Sept. 10.


Connells Maple Lee Stems Hunger collects 175 pounds for Choice Food Pantry in Columbus

Connells Maple Lee’s annual food drive collected 175 pounds of nonperishable items from June 17-July 1.

This year’s Connells Maple Lee Stems Hunger event benefited the nonprofit Neighborhood Services Inc., which operates the Choice Food Pantry at 1950 N. 4th St., Suite J, Columbus.

Besides our three Columbus-area stores, the food drop-off locations included Drayer Physical Therapy Institute’s outpatient center in Grove City.

Donors received a free carnation for each nonperishable food item they contributed.

In its six-year history, the food drive has collected more than 1,000 pounds for area food banks.

Photo above, from left, Billy Ables, wholesale driver, Connells Maple Lee, delivers food to Martin Butler, executive director, Neighborhood Services Inc.


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 Connells Maple Lee 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 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, Connells Maple Lee 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 coordinates the Atlanta trips. He sets up meetings with specific vendors. He also arms each member of the Connells Maple Lee 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 Connells Maple Lee. 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 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 Connells Maple Lee’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 Connells Maple Lee 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 looking 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.”


Plants and pets: know the facts to keep dogs and cats healthy

No plant says Christmas quite like the poinsettia. But nary a holiday season goes by without poinsettias being negatively associated with pet health.

Yet the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says poinsettias “may be the most misrepresented plant when it comes to toxicity. Since 1919 poinsettias have been called lethal if ingested by pets. However, many animal studies have shown that it is just not true.”

Relatively few plant and flower species are dangerous to pets, and the effects can range widely.

As the ASPCA notes, poinsettias and other holiday plants are not good for pets to ingest, potentially irritating the mouth and stomach and sometimes causing vomiting, but generally are “over-rated in toxicity.”

The same can’t be said about lilies and cats. Eating just a couple of leaves or licking a few pollen grains off their fur can quickly cause kidney failure, according to CBS News.

“A cat that’s eaten part of a lily will vomit soon afterwards, but this may gradually lessen after two to four hours. Within 12 to 24 hours, the cat may start to urinate frequently. Urination may then stop if kidney failure occurs. If untreated, a cat will die within four to seven days after eating a lily.”

This is the case for any true lily — belonging to the plant genus Lilium — including Easter lily, tiger lily, rubrum lily, Japanese show lily and certain species of daylily.

In contrast, the calla lily, peace lily, lily of the valley and Peruvian lily (alstroemeria) are not true lilies and won’t cause kidney failure in cats although they have other toxic principles, according to the Pet Poison Helpline.

If you love plants and pets, then it’s a good idea to consider which ones are the best fit for your home. Here are several resources:

The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center offers an exhaustive, sortable list of plants that are toxic or non-toxic to dogs and cats. The list focuses on plants “that have been reported as having systemic effects on animals and/or intense effects on the gastrointestinal tract,” according to the ASPCA, which cautions that the list is not meant to be all-inclusive.

If you think your animal is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance, the ASPCA suggests contacting your veterinarian or its 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435.

The Humane Society offers an informative — and highly alliterative — list of “plants potentially poisonous to pets.”

The Pet Poison Helpline offers its Top 10 Plants Poisonous to Pets.

Of course, as the Pet Poison Helpline notes:

“While there are thousands of species of plants and flowers, only a small percentage of plants are truly dangerous and poisonous to your pet.”


Connells Maple Lee gives back 10 percent of online prom purchases to area high schools

No doubt, high school students throughout Connells Maple Lee’s market area will have lasting fond memories of having attended their spring proms.

And two high school prom committees will have a little extra money after participating in Connells Maple Lee’s first prom fundraiser.

Connells Maple Lee sent reimbursement checks representing 10 percent of the $1,194.33 in corsages and boutonnieres purchased for the Bexley High School and Central Crossing High School proms.

The schools may use the reimbursed funds at their discretion. The fundraiser was open to all high schools in Connells Maple Lee’s market.

Connells Maple Lee plans to offer a similar fundraiser next year. Prom committees interested in participating in 2018 should contact Jaime Kevles, Connells Maple Lee’s marketing coordinator, at jaime.kevles@cmlflowers.com.


Connells Maple Lee Kids Club event June 17 to kick off annual food drive

Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts will hold its annual food drive – Connells Maple Lee Stems Hunger – June 17-July 1.

The Connells Maple Lee Kids Club will kick off the food drive with a June 17 event in all stores. Children ages 5 to 12 are asked to donate a nonperishable food item as the price of admission, and to bring an empty food can in which to make an arrangement for themselves.

Participants will receive a balloon and will have an opportunity to enter the kids club birthday card design contest.

Time slots are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Registration is required by calling your nearest Connells Maple Lee store: 3014 E. Broad St., Bexley, 614-237-8653; 2033 Stringtown Road, Grove City, 614-539-4000; and 8573 Owenfield Drive, Powell, 740-548-4082.