This month’s featured florist is Heather Allen, owner of K’nees Florists with locations in Moline, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa. K’nees Florists was started in 1886 by Wilhelm Kneese, who was a gardener for the John Deere family. The iconic Moline shop has been at the same location since 1901. Their second location – across the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa – is unique in the fact that it features a drive-thru window allowing customers to order flowers without even leaving their cars.
Q) How did you to get involved in the floral industry and when did you decide to make it your career?
I have always loved being creative. I attended design school in 1995-96 and fell in love with design. I worked for a couple shops as a designer/ manager then realized someday I would love to own my own business.
Q) After 130 years, K’nees Florists is obviously a well-established local business. How long have you owned the shop, and what made you decide to pursue that opportunity?
I have owned the business for the past four years. I researched flower shops for sale and found K’nees listed with a broker. It was right up the street and exactly what I was looking for. I was a bit leery about having two locations in two different states but now I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Q) What is your favorite part of your job?
I love designing and having fun with my crew. That is what I find the most fulfilling. I also like to work on attracting more customers utilizing creative angles, such as the new drive-thru.
Q) A drive-thru flower shop is fairly unique. How did you come up with this concept and is it working as well as you planned?
Here in the Midwest, it can get cold! I am such a big fan of drive-thrus that I decided to have one of my very own. In our area, the largest grocery store chain has multiple locations and also offers delivery. I wanted to stand out from them and find a more convenient way for customers to purchase flowers. It is very unique and it’s catching on quite nicely.
Q) How does the drive-thru work?
You can either call ahead or simply drive-thru. We have a menu board that is attached to our website. The menu appears all day and night on a large TV that you can view from a large picture window while strolling through the drive-thru. We have all items listed on the menu available at all times. Once we sell a design, we simply pull it off the site/menu until we replace it with a new design. It works quite well!
Q) What is the average wait time for someone at the drive-thru?
Really, it is just a few minutes while we wrap up their order. I compare it to the wait at a coffee drive-thru.
Q) Do you run any kind of specials or contests for your customers? Which ones do your customers respond to the most?
We typically have a $9.99 dozen roses special – customers obviously love that. They also think of us again when they need a larger sympathy or wedding designs.
Q) How important is community outreach and what are your favorite causes to support?
I used to be a firefighter/paramedic for Moline Fire Department. When I left that position, my goal was to still make an impact in our community. I feel very blessed in my life and love to help others feel the same. I started K’nees for a Cause a couple years ago. We have a dedicated bouquet each month and with each sale of the dedicated bouquet, 20% goes to a chosen local Quad City charity.
Q) What advice do you have for a shop that wants to attract new customers and sustain relationships with established customers?
Smile when you answer the phone and take the time for customers. Be confident in your pricing and product. Let your customers know you appreciate them and their business. Try to ask the pertinent questions when someone is placing an order to make sure you are grasping what they are seeing in their minds – because everyone always has something pictured in their mind. It is so very important to do this to get the best end result – customer satisfaction.
Q) What are you most proud of professionally?
I think it would be a combination of my life experiences from flower shop designer to firefighter to flower shop owner. I feel without all my past experiences, I would not be able to fully understand people and run a successful business. Believe it or not, there are far more challenges that occur on a daily basis at the flower shop compared to the fire ground. I always say I now put out “florist fires!”
We want to feature you!
Is your shop doing something that is unique or different? We would love to hear from you. Send us a brief email letting us know what you’re up to, and we may select your shop to be our next Featured Florist.