Florist Spotlight

An interview with Kathy Buning Floral manager Hy-Vee 1455 W. 155th St.Olathe, Kan.

The same but sooooo different

There are more than 240 Hy-Vee stores throughout eight Midwestern states. Heck, there are two stores in Olathe. What we produce is different because the design teams in all the stores are different. Our floral website is the same for all stores, and my team can make all the designs shown, but much of our work is special requests from our loyal customers.

I have the freedom to set up our floral department the way I like and the way I think our customers will love. We all receive a standard shipment of flowers from Florist Distributing Inc. – a Hy-Vee-owned floral wholesaler – but I always have additional specialty orders for the weddings, funerals and events we have on the books.



“This floral department is blooming, partly due to the freedom it has to customize its offerings to its specific clientele.”


Encouraging design beyond the small town and traditional

I manage nine people: two delivery drivers and seven floral designers, five of whom are part time. I know each designer’s floral style, and my employees laugh when I identify their work without seeing them in action. I encourage my team members to find their own individual styles. I’m excited about more greenery in bridal bouquets, and I love it when our clients want to do something different.

Blooming boom

I’ve been at this store for almost 12 years, and business has grown substantially. I’m given monthly and annual targets based on past sales, which we are meeting. It is all about building relationships and the trust we engender when we delight people. They come back.

We do an average of two weddings a week, and our funeral business is growing thanks to the neighboring funeral home that sends work our way. They know we do a great job at a nice price-point. Flowers are a frill, and although we’re booming now, that might change if there is a downturn in the economy. I can’t control that, but I can control customer service, so that’s my focus.

My training and interest was accounting. A friend who owned a floral shop begged me to help take orders during Mother’s Day. She called me again and again. I ended up working part-time for nine years. That’s where I learned my floral skills, and accounting went out of the window. Another friend worked here in the floral department at Hy-Vee, and she needed help during a busy holiday. I came as a temp. for two weeks and was offered a part-time job, which became full time, and now I’m the manager – a position in which I use my accounting skills! The full circle. Who knew?!

A start as holiday help

NEXTDOOR: This Hy-Vee floral department in Olathe, Kan., has been voted a “Nextdoor Neighborhood Favorite” for three consecutive years This year, this floral department won in 71 nearby neighborhoods.

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