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VALENTINE’S DAY: FROM FIELD TO FRONT DOOR

Whether you’re a planner or procrastinator, online or in-store shopper, you can expect the same high-quality product and customer service from Connells Maple Lee.

We really shine at Valentine’s Day. It’s our busiest time, and we enjoy the challenge of rising to the occasion. If a customer buys flowers once per year, it’s probably for Feb. 14. And with matters of the heart, the pressure really ramps up to deliver in a special way, for lovers and florists alike.

We handle a similar volume of orders during the Christmas season, but that’s over a month or longer. By comparison, the Valentine’s Day “season” squeezes a similar volume into several days.

FROM SOUTH AMERICA, WITH LOVE

But behind the scenes, Valentine’s Day is months in the making, and it takes us thousands of miles from our stores.

You see, we don’t just place a phone call and wait for roses to come to us. We go directly to the flower farms in South America, where we can see firsthand the crop that’s being grown just for our customers. This way we can make sure everything is to our satisfaction. If there are problems, then we have more time to correct them.

Once the Valentine’s Day crop is harvested, it is flown to Miami, where it is inspected by U.S. customs officials. From there, we move the flowers to a refrigerated tractor-trailer for their journey to our Grove City distribution center.

The flowers are either picked up by drivers from our stores or headed to another part of the building and our central design department.

CENTRAL DESIGN: THE HEART OF THE OPERATION

The demand is so great at Valentine’s Day that our stores simply can’t accommodate all the work. They get a big assist from central design, where a team of workers packs roses in boxes or turns them and other flowers into beautiful arrangements.

Whether you give or receive Valentine’s Day roses, or both, we want to make sure you get the most out of them. In fact, with the right amount of care, you should be able to keep your roses looking just rosy for a week.

Click here for specific care instructions, which differ depending on whether your roses arrived in a vase or loose in a box. Either way, it’s best to keep them cool and, of course, sufficiently watered.

From the farm to your front door, we love making Valentine’s Day special for our customers.

Thanks for letting us show you how.

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.”

Connells Maple Lee to honor active military and veterans by collecting ‘Holiday Mail for Heroes’ Nov. 11-25 in all stores

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Connells Maple Lee will collect cards and coloring pages for active military and veterans in each of its stores Nov. 11-25 as part of the American Red Cross’ “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program.

Collected cards and coloring pages will be handed over to the Red Cross, whose volunteers will organize them for delivery.

Cards may be dropped off at any of Connells Maple Lee’s three Columbus-area locations during normal business hours. Free coloring pages are available at the stores or can be downloaded here:

Christmas Tree

Ornament

Santa

Reindeer

Dreidel

The Red Cross offers these guidelines for preparing cards:

  • Use generic salutations such as “Dear Service Member” as cards addressed to specific individuals cannot be delivered through this program.
    Include messages of support and thanks.
  • Sign your name to them.
  • Don’t include letters or other personal information (photos, addresses).
  • Refrain from choosing cards with glitter.

The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.

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 Connells Maple Lee 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?

 

There’s no cutting corners with these square holiday wreaths

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Teddy Roosevelt had his Square Deal. Huey Lewis said it was hip to be square.

We have the square holiday wreath, and it’s pretty hip.

Of course, you’ll still find more round wreaths, but we’re stocking a small number of square wreaths in each of our stores.

No matter the shape of your evergreen wreath, here’s a great tip for keeping them in great shape throughout the holiday season: hairspray. Click here for details.

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.

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.

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.

Connells Maple Lee stores collecting ‘Holiday Mail for Heroes’ Nov. 17-Dec. 5

Holiday Mail for Heroes Recipients

Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts and the American Red Cross are teaming up this year to deliver “Holiday Mail for Heroes.”

From Nov. 17 through Dec. 5, Connells Maple Lee stores will collect holiday cards and coloring pages that the Red Cross will deliver to service members, veterans and their families. 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 each Connells Maple Lee store or can be downloaded here, courtesy of Coloring-Page.net:

How the lily became a symbol of Easter and other floral facts about the holiday

Photo: Matt H. Wade
Photo: Matt H. Wade

Numerous accounts identify her as Mrs. Thomas Sargent, a resident of Philadelphia who visited Bermuda in the 1880s. Smitten by the lilies she saw there, she brought lily bulbs home with her.

She gave some of them to a local nurseryman named William Harris, “who began growing them, forcing them into spring bloom, and selling to other florists,” writes Leonard Perry, an extension professor at the University of Vermont. “Many began buying this flower for Easter, as they do today, with it symbolizing the Resurrection.”

“Forcing” bulbs – as we described in this post about hyacinths – is the means by which light and temperature can be manipulated in order to control the rate at which a plant grows. In most parts of the United States, lilies naturally would bloom in the summer – weeks after Easter.

Some other facts about Easter lilies:

  • Flowering and green houseplants (46 percent) account for the biggest chunk of Easter/Passover floral sales. Lilies (52 percent) account for most flowering houseplant sales. (aboutflowers.com)
  • Lilies are considered highly toxic to cats. The Society of American Florists recommends keeping lilies out of the reach of cats as ingesting even small amounts of the plant can cause kidney failure. Lilies do not pose a problem for other pets or humans. (aboutflowers.com)
  • In the home, Easter lilies prefer moderately cool temperatures (recommended 60 to 65 degrees during the day, slightly cooler at night). They thrive near a window in bright, indirect natural daylight. (Texas A&M Agrilife Extension)
  • Ohio is among the states that produce the most potted Easter lilies. (Texas A&M Agrilife Extension)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join the Connells Maple Lee Kids Club on March 15 for our free St. Patrick’s Day event

Kids club project St. Patrick's Day (March 2014)

At the end of the rainbow is another free Connells Maple Lee Kids Club event for ages 5 to 12.

Join us March 15 for an opportunity to decorate a white carnation by giving it a smiling face. You’ll be able to take your creation home in a bud vase and watch as the green dye in the water changes the color of the flower. 

Participants also will receive a balloon. 

Time slots are available at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Registration is required by calling your nearest store: 2408 E. Main St. (Route 40), Bexley, 614-237-8653; 2033 Stringtown Road, Grove City, 614-539-4000; and 8573 Owenfield Drive, Powell, 740-548-4082.