Every month we’ll be spotlighting a different Woodlands employee to connect you with our team and learn more about what they do day in and day out to keep their departments running smoothly. We appreciate our hard-working employees and want you to get to know them!
Sue Santa has been a pillar of the Woodlands community since her family purchased the market over 30 years ago. Sue is currently the Garden Shop Manager in Kentfield, and has put together some great gift ideas for Valentine’s Day.
How long have you been employed here?
I’ve been with Woodlands since August of 1986, a month before my brother Don purchased the market. In my 32 years here, I’ve worked in almost every department in the store, and though each role has been different, my job has always revolved around customers. Customer service is my forte-it’s what I love to do. I’ve always been a people person, and whether I’m working in the café, the market, or the flower shop I thrive off of helping our customers and giving them the best experience possible.
Considering how long I’ve been here, I’m probably the most familiar face at Woodlands. I make it a point to try and get to know people, and over the years have become familiar and friendly with many of our customers-and now their children, as they grow up and become customers themselves.
Can you describe your job for us?
I’ve been managing the garden shop for the past three years and working here has really tapped into my creativity. I do everything from ordering flowers and plants, to making arrangements, to buying the décor and gift items. I joined an amazing team here that includes floral designers Diane and April, who have both worked here for many years and have a vast amount of experience. Karen is our newest team member and brings over 10 years of flower designing experience. What’s great is that each one of us has a slightly different style and approach to our job that allows us to meet every customer’s needs.
Once or twice a year I attend gift shows and do the buying for the Garden Shop, which comprises 40 percent plants and freshly cut flowers and 60 percent non-perishable gift items. If any customer is seeking out something unique and different-such as a rare flower-we’ll seek it out and special order it for them.
Often a customer comes into the shop with some idea of what they would like, and we’ll work with them to design an arrangement that’s best for them. We really try to involve ourselves in getting to know a customer’s style. Taking their spaces and preferred colors into consideration, we can design the right floral arrangement for them deliver the best product possible. Our main goal in the Garden Shop is to give a customer something that they both want and need.
Is the Garden Shop offering any specials for Valentine’s Day?
Aside from your classic bundle of red, pink, and white roses, this year we’ve got a great gift option that can be given to men or women-we’re offering a color-coordinated gift pack that contains both a flower arrangement and a bottle of either Michter’s rye whiskey, champagne, or Pinot Noir. We’re really happy with how these came out! We also offer a more reasonably priced arrangement of posies that come with a gift box.
Whatever you’re getting, it’s best to call early and reserve your arrangement, as holidays are busy for us and we do sell out.
What are some of your most popular items?
Regardless of the season, our most popular items are always white hydrangeas and white orchids. We’re constantly receiving new shipments of these in the store, as well as other colors and seasonal varieties.
We get our flowers fresh from a trusted vendor at the San Francisco Flower Mart three times a week, and I also go to the San Francisco Flower Mart once a week to find unique and special items that we can feature in the store. Our stock changes on a weekly basis depending on what I find.
Bulb season (that’s daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths) is just beginning as well, and everyone loves perennials. One tip we give customers is to give bulbs ice water to prolong their life.
Watering cans, gardening shovels, garden art, and fountains (that we deliver and set up for customers). Our stock switches over once a month to keep a variety for customers.
What’s your favorite thing about working at Woodlands?
Above all else, I thrive on getting to know our customers on a personal level to the point where I know their tastes and needs. Our team here has developed great relationships with many return customers over the years, and this allows them to trust us with their orders.
I also love working with the Diane, April, and Karen, who make up the amazing team we have here in the Garden Shop. I think it’s easy for customers to see how much I enjoy coming to work every day thanks to the fantastic job our employees do on a daily basis.
Many customers will regularly bring in their own containers or vases and give us “designer’s choice” to do what we want-we’ll have free range to make a plant or flower arrangement that we think is best to go with the container. Sometimes they’ll just tell us the color of their tablecloth or show us a photo of their space and trust us to design the best arrangement for them. I think this is really a testament to what we do, and we’re proud to be able to have this freedom and level of trust with our customers.