Arett Sales is bringing you success stories from the field to inspire hope, creativity, and community. For this installment, we chatted with Joe DiDominica, owner of The Dees’ Nursery & Florist in Oceanside, Long Island and he gave us some insight into how they achieved record-breaking success with e-commerce this Mother’s Day weekend.
Setting the Scene…
Over Mother’s Day weekend, Dees’ Nursery & Florist experienced their most successful holiday weekend ever to date – in spite of all the odds. As both an Arett Sales and Greensmith customer, Dees’ has utilized services from both companies to keep sales up and adapt to the changing retail landscape during this challenging time. So far, it has been nothing but success.
Dees’ Nursery & Florist has been a family-owned business since 1958. They are Long Island’s largest florist, nursery, and garden center, carrying a vast array of hard goods and live goods across all categories. Under normal circumstances, Dees’ hosts popular, family-friendly events year-round like their Fall Festival, workshops, and a Christmas wonderland.
Only 30 miles from New York City
When the pandemic hit New York City hard, Dees’ had to quickly figure out their next steps. They are located just 30 miles from Manhattan but were able to secure status as an essential business by carrying products deemed essential by the state of New York. These items included propane tanks, fruit and vegetable plants, seeds, and cleaning products. While they were lucky enough to stay open, Dees’ had to begin operating with a reduced staff at about 1/3 of the normal size, mostly comprised of family members. Children and spouses hopped on board to lend a helping hand where they could to keep business running as usual.
Easter Around the Corner
After securing status as an essential business, Dees’ had a lot of work to do to make sure their store was safe and secure for employees and customers. They executed (and continue to follow) all CDC and state guidelines to ensure a safe shopping experience. Dees’ provided protective gear to all employees, installed plexiglass barriers for cashiers, and placed 6-foot spacing markers in all line areas. Owner Joe DiDominica even set a hand-washing alarm on his personal phone so he could send radio reminders to all of his employees.
Like many businesses around the country, Dees’ instituted curbside pick-up and delivery options for their customers. Phone orders began rolling in and piling up – soon Dees’ realized they would need a more robust e-commerce solution to keep up. Easter was just around the corner, so Joe called the Greensmith marketing team to begin adding plants, flowers, vegetables, and hard goods to his e-commerce store.
E-commerce Solutions for the Win
Within the week, Greensmith had the additional products, including multiple 4-step lawn programs, set up on his website and ready to go. These first additions were a success, so when it came time to start planning for Mother’s Day, Joe knew that e-commerce would play a key role. Again, working with a very small staff, Dees’ decided to offer a limited variety of pre-designed floral arrangements on their online store.
After upgrading their e-commerce options, Dees’ had their most successful Mother’s Day ever.
They completed sold out of fresh flowers! When the weekend was over, Joe told us “there wasn’t a carnation left in the building!” Dees’ also attributes some of the success to social media chat features which allowed them to frequently communicate with their customers. In just a few short weeks, Dees’ e-commerce business has grown tenfold, and they look forward to continued growth in the near future.
The Benefits of an Online Presence
Over the past few weeks with the help of Greensmith, Dees’ learned that now more than ever it’s crucial to have an e-commerce website. Plus, this is the perfect time for nurseries and florists to sell live goods online. The time is now for businesses to boost their online presence through websites and social media and communicate directly with customers.
While Dees’ was working on expanding their e-commerce solutions, they also opened up communications with fellow IGCs on Long Island. During this time of immense challenge, it was more important than ever that the IGCs join forces, exchange information, and lend a helping hand when needed. Sometimes, in the face of hardship, those who were previously competitors become true partners.
Joe told us –
“I was on the phone daily with Sig and Christina of Atlantic Nursery in Freeport and Rick VanBourgondien of VanBourgondien’s Nursery in Dix Hills as well as many others. We shared information on keeping our essential business status, applying for the Payroll Protection Program, and many other things. There was safety in numbers and I liked how we all came together to help each other out.”
A Message for the Future
Joe DiDominica wants fellow garden center owners to know –
“You must be nimble and ready to make changes on the fly right now. That could look like moving your check-out outdoors to provide room for social distancing. Be ready for the possibility that the virus flairs up again in the fall. Make sure you are following all CDC guidelines and getting the products in that sets your essential business status helping the community.” To prepare his store, Joe ordered more cleaning products from Arett Sales and added to his offerings in pet food and supplies. Dees’ will also be adding a hydroponic garden for growing produce as well as a fresh produce section.