3 years ago

Meet the Expert: Bachman’s Partnership

Okay, so. You stop by the store for your weekly shopping trip and the first thing you see is the Flowers by Bachman’s display, filled with radiant cut flowers like peonies and dahlias and brimming with seasonal plants like chrysanthemums. There are greenhouse plants like ZZs and sansevieria, too. You think, “Wow, they’re so beautiful and so fresh!” You feel inspired. You dream of lush house plants overflowing in your Instagram feed.

The next time you stop by the store, you see the Flowers by Bachman’s display again and think, “Wow, everything still looks so healthy and fresh and beautiful.” You imagine the selfie you’d post on Instagram surrounded by colorful bouquets of fresh-cut flowers.

When you swing by the store later in the week to pick up baking soda, the flowers look as alive and fresh and colorful as ever. You wonder if it’s magic. You buy a bouquet filled with vibrant colors, then bump into a Bachman’s plant expert who is happy to answer your questions about caring for it. You’re delighted and thrilled. You forget the baking soda.

When you get home, you wonder: Were you making up how fresh and beautiful the flowers look every day? Did you imagine the knowledgeable, friendly plant expert? Nope. They are both as real as they come. The Bachman’s displays in our stores are refreshed, tended to and loved every single day that our stores are open. “Our team goes out seven days a week, 362 days a year to bring fresh product to the stores,” says Jennifer Blaha, the Director of Grocery Operations for Bachman’s. “We prune, we deadhead, we pull out any flowers that are too far along in their bloom. We care for all of our products every day.”

Bachman’s prioritizes exceptional product quality, just like Lunds & Byerlys, so they dispatch the same full-time and part-time teams to the same stores every day to care for the plants and flowers. Customers who see a Bachman’s employee tending to the plants are welcome to ask questions; their knowledge and expertise is there for the taking, and they love to make personal connections with the community. “We want to provide that hometown feel,” says Blaha.

Both Bachman’s and Lunds & Byerlys have been part of life in the Twin Cities for generations, and part of each company’s staying power has been a commitment to customer service and high quality, says Bachman’s Director of Marketing Karen Bachman-Thull. That is where the real magic comes in. The plants look fresh and beautiful every day thanks to hard work and dedication (and, okay, maybe a little magic; nature always has some magic in it). But the true beauty is in how both our companies work together to put the customer first.

A Beautiful Partnership
The Bachman’s partnership with Lunds & Byerlys began in 1968, when Ralph Bachman visited Europe and found inspiration all around him. “He saw all these beautiful flower carts, people pushing them through the streets, and he envisioned bringing that here,” says Thull. When he returned to the Twin Cities, Bachman’s launched a new concept called the European Flower Market, modeled on the carts he saw in Europe. “The whole concept was to provide beautiful fresh flowers in places people frequented,” Thull says. “Byerly’s was that place.” (Lunds and Byerly’s were two separate stores until they joined forces in 1997.)

The first European Flower Market kiosk appeared at the Byerly’s in Golden Valley; soon there were 22 kiosks around the metro. Then, in the late 80s, Bachman’s and Byerly’s decided to shift the focus away from the European-style kiosk and create more permanent installations inside each store. “The kiosks became ‘Flowers by Bachman’s, and they were in all of the Byerly’s food stores,” says Thull. Today, Bachman’s provides flower services to all 27 Lunds & Byerlys stores in the Minneapolis metro area and St. Cloud. Blaha leads a team of 34 dedicated plant experts who visit each store every day to care for the plants and make sure they are optimally fresh for customers — and to answer customer questions, of course.

“You have two local companies with similar commitments to quality and service and connection to customers,” says Thull. “It’s really beautiful. There is something very special there.”

What Sets Flowers by Bachman’s Apart
In addition to making sure every bouquet is as radiant as possible every day, the Bachman’s team focuses on featuring seasonal blooms from local growers whenever possible. “We try to make everything seasonally appropriate and locally grown when it’s available,” says Blaha.

During summer, that means lots of bouquets with vibrant flowers from around the region — sunflowers, gladiolas, peonies. Bachman’s-grown plants come from their 700-acre farm just south of the Twin Cities. As fall approaches, mums in every color line the shelves at every store. Winter, of course, means poinsettias — which, if forced to choose (it was a very tough choice), are Thull’s favorite. “They are such a statement plant,” she says. “Every season it’s a sea of red and white and pink in all the stores, and it just gets you in the holiday spirit.”

Flowers by Bachman’s is also known for its signature cut-flower bouquets. The company’s buyer for fresh-cut flowers creates a lot of her own recipes (which is what the mix of flowers in a bouquet is called) and she has a passion for music, so she names each bouquet after a song. “Every bouquet is unique, and we offer them in varying price points starting at $14.99 and going up to $49.99,” says Blaha. “Customers can buy a ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ bouquet or an ‘Imagine’ bouquet.” If they fall in love with a particular bouquet recipe and try to find it someplace else, they’ll strike out, she adds. “They can’t find ‘Imagine’ anywhere else because we created it.”

The Importance of Beauty in Turbulent Times
This year has been filled with unprecedented challenges, and many people are finding solace in nature, whether that means spending time in outdoor gardens or brightening their homes with houseplants and cut flowers. Many millennials now think of themselves as plant parents, and almost everyone has found themselves with more time at home, which means more time to really take in their surroundings.

“It feels like there is a renewed sense of purpose with nature,” says Thull. “We have more time to notice it, whether inside or outside, and there seems to be a desire to make things more beautiful, to enhance the spaces we are in.” That might seem superfluous, but in fact, it’s the opposite. Small, beautiful things — especially elements from the natural world — can offer a ray of hope in dark times. And, adds Thull, “I think we could all use a bit more of that right now.”

Even if the benefit of a bouquet is smaller and more fleeting for some people, its impact on the psyche is hard to overstate. “People might not come into the store looking for flowers, but they leave with a smile on their face,” says Thull. “Throughout Covid, we’ve felt how important it is to have a bright spot in your day.”