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Toms River Florist Plants Trees to Grow the Business

It's a simple proposition that elicits a powerful emotional response: for every floral purchase made at John's Riverside Florist in Toms River, NJ, customers can have a tree planted in a national forest, dedicated to any person named by the customer.

"The reaction has been overwhelming," says owner John Franovic. "I was only going to do it for two months in the summer, but the momentum is still going strong. I just ordered a new ad that says, 'Order flowers and start a forest.'" A typical customer who loved this idea was a mother planning her oldest son's wedding. She was thrilled to find out she could dedicate a tree to her parents and in-laws, some of whom are deceased. The concept is also popular for birthdays and anniversaries.

John works with the National Forest Foundation to fulfill the promise of his marketing strategy. There is no minimum order. "It doesn't make sense to put conditions on it," says John. "The whole point is to give it away."

The program has been highly successful at bringing in business, however. In addition to publicizing it for his own shop, John wrote a letter for a reception venue for which he is a contract vendor, so they could let their wedding customers know about it. "The more people who know about it, the more trees get planted," says John. "You can go to a supermarket and buy flowers, but only here can you buy flowers and do something for the environment at the same time."

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