Ask any Trader Joe’s diehard and they’ll vouch that the very best kept secret in the store is not the frozen aisle … or the snacks … or the dips … (which are all excellent, don’t get it twisted). It’s actually the fresh flower section. This reasonably-priced floral oasis is where Trader Joe’s really blossoms, offering a quality (and price) that virtually no other store can. But there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to ensure that that’s the case.
In the latest episode of the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast, hosts Tara Miller and Matt Sloan chat with Maggie Meccia-Vogt, the category manager for plants and flowers at Trader Joe’s, to discuss this wildly popular section.
Trader Joe’s sources their flowers from floral wholesalers across the country, which involves an immense level of coordination and detail. “I think that this is something that a lot of people don’t realize: Trader Joe’s gets fresh flower deliveries, whether it’s plants, flowers or whatever, seven days a week,” says Maggie. “There could be somebody out there that does, but I don’t know of a single other retailer in the United States that gets fresh flower delivery seven days a week. We move an absolute massive amount of flowers just because we’re known for our freshness.”
This massive buying power proved to be integral during the pandemic when floral sales took a huge hit. Maggie herself played a huge role in making sure that Trader Joe’s was playing its part: “You look at what happened with COVID where the entire floral industry, pretty much as a whole, for a matter of time, wasn’t able to bring in flowers [because] they weren’t considered essential business. So you have a grocery store that’s able to keep these guys afloat,” says Maggie.
In many ways, Trader Joe’s saved the day. “I reached out to a couple of our growers that I know are very, very dominant in the wholesale floral industry,” says Maggie. “And one of them in particular, I knew that there was a good probability he was going to go under and I told them, ‘What do you need to keep going? What do you need? You tell me how many cases you need to move a week and I’ll give you those cases because you cannot go out of business.’”
While they might not be necessary to a balanced diet, freshly cut flowers can be the difference between a good and bad day, especially right now when bright spots can seem few and far between: “We’re providing beautiful flowers for people to enjoy in their home, that wouldn’t otherwise necessarily be going to a flower shop. We’re making flowers affordable for people to enjoy,” says Maggie.
Beyond that, flowers give people hope: “People want to be happy. People want positivity. They want to nurture things right now. And I think plants and flowers just make people happy. And I think when times are dark and people are struggling and you’re looking for positivity and you’re looking for something that shows that life goes on, things will keep growing.”
Do you frequent Trader Joe’s flower department?