Changes with the timesHomecoming was designed in the 19th century to encourage alumni to come home for a celebratory game or event at their alma mater. Giving flowers to one’s date has long been an important part of this tradition. Traditionally a male student buys a fresh floral corsage for his homecoming date and she chooses a boutonniere for him. Times change. “In some schools, Homecoming is diminishing and they no longer have a dance,” explains Todd Bussey AIFD of Bussey’s Florist & Gifts in Cedartown, Georgia. “It’s not financially feasible to invest your marketing dollars or energies in those areas.”
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Photo: Todd Bussey AIFD“With the schools that are having homecoming dances, it has become like a miniature prom and is very profitable,” says Todd. “I find that it varies according to the schools.” Bussey’s finds it more profitable to focus on selling small bouquets rather than wrist corsages. Petite bouquets are faster to make, require less decorative accessories and can be designed further in advance. Whether the bouquet is hand-tied and stored in water until pick-up or designed in a water-saturated bouquet holder, the flowers have access to a water source, unlike a wristlet.
This video offers tips for How to Design a Petite Bouquet
Homecoming leads to prom“We see homecoming as an early marketing opportunity for prom,” says Todd. “We intentionally keep our homecoming flowers simpler and less costly than prom to help make the distinction between the two.” Bussey also uses the fall dances to forecast trends for spring proms by observing which fashionable colors and styles their customers are choosing. “This gives us the opportunity to predict what will be chosen for prom in our specific market, which is much more accurate than just reading about projected trends online or in magazines.” To reach potential customers, Todd relies heavily on social media, knowing that is where he can connect with young clients. Boosting popular posts or posting timely online ads allows him a high profile while maintaining a low advertising budget. He also markets directly to his email list for special occasions.
Sell wristlets“Flowers follow fashion” suggests Cherrie Silverman AIFD, EMC of Cherry Blossoms in Westminster, Colorado. Cherrie’s flower shop is in an area that has 10 high schools. They still have homecoming dances, but she’s not getting as many orders for wristlets as she did several years ago. “Over my 37 years of design I’ve noticed there are periods of time when dressing up is more important than others. Flowers are a part of that look,” Cherrie explains. “The style here is more casual now and kids are going to the dance in groups. When that happens, there are less flowers being given to dates.”
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Photo: Cherrie Silverman AIFD, EMCCherrie promotes trend-setting homecoming combos of coordinating corsage and boutonniere and offers an add-on like hair flowers to upsell the orders she does get. The schools in Cherrie’s area select a homecoming court each year so she donates the court flowers to keep the Cherry Blossoms name visible to students.
Along with gluing succulents into wristlets and boutonnieres (as shown above), sometimes you need to secure them into foam bouquet holders. Try this technique, How-to Incorporate Succulents into Your Design
Adjusting price and service“In the last few years I have significantly raised my prices,” Cherrie confides. She now fills fewer homecoming orders but makes a higher profit per order. She’s making more money while investing less time in design. Still, she says, “Homecoming dance day is a busy one. That’s the day dad’s walk in with their son and say ‘my son didn’t get his date a flower!’ We handle it. At prom time, it’s the moms we deal with, but for homecoming it’s the dads that bring the guys in for last minute flowers.”. Need more gluing tips? Revisit this blog Gluing Flowers into Prom Wristlets is Fast and Easy
Functional and fun flowers“I’m all about functionality and comfort,” says Cherrie. “If it’s not comfortable, it’s not fun.” She promotes the easy-to-wear Wrap Wristlets for her homecoming florals rather than offering a range of more expensive, trendier bracelets. "One-size-fits-all, they are easy to design with, lightweight and comfortable to wear,” she explains. “I buy them by the case and have them drop-shipped to me."
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Photo: Theresa Colucci AIFD, PFCITheresa Colucci AIFD, PFCI agrees that “informality is causing fewer requests for flowers”. There are three high schools near her Meadowscent shop in Gardiner, New York. “Only one school has a homecoming dance,” says Theresa.” One advantage her flower shop has is that there are three formal school dances in the region–homecoming in September or October, Snowball in February and prom in April or May. These dances present three opportunities to offer different colors, textures and styles of flowers to the same satisfied customers.