Title:
Modular bucket system for displaying fresh cut flowers
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system for displaying flowers having a display platform having a plurality of coded receptacles for receiving coded flower containers, a plurality of coded flower containers located within corresponding coded flower receptacles, and a characteristic code on each coded receptacle and each coded flower container identifying a flower characteristic. The coded flower containers are constructed of disposable, water-impermeable material, and the characteristic code identifies aspects such as price, species, and freshness or expiration date of flowers. The characteristic codes on the coded receptacles and the coded flower containers enable a salesperson to quickly set up a flower display by placing the coded flower containers in the coded receptacles having matching characteristic codes.



Inventors:
Burgess, Joanna S. (Gurnee, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/248346
Publication Date:
04/19/2007
Filing Date:
10/13/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G7/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090217577METHOD AND DEVICE TO ACCELERATE GROWTHSeptember, 2009Krabbendam et al.
20060213121Christmas tree stand with safety and filling featuresSeptember, 2006Mercado Jr. et al.
20100024292PLANT GROWING ASSEMBLYFebruary, 2010Kertz
20040035047Biotreatment of cheese-processing wastewater by cultivating mushroom myceliaFebruary, 2004Hwang et al.
20040020112Weed barriers and control methodsFebruary, 2004Lloyd
20050246956Modular flower box comprising wter drainage systemand clamp/support which is used to connect modules and which can house a lighting elementNovember, 2005Gonzalez Miguez
20090064369HABANERO PEPPER HYBRID PX11423486March, 2009Berke
20050223641Flower pot and method of packaging the sameOctober, 2005Duivenvoorden
20090249688BIODEGRADABLE PLANT POTSOctober, 2009Cameron et al.
20100011458SWEET PEPPER LINE SBR28-1220January, 2010Leij
20040031195Method of using a decorative floral sleeveFebruary, 2004Weder



Primary Examiner:
PARSLEY, DAVID J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Richard S. Meyer (McLean, VA, US)
Claims:
I claim as my invention:

1. A system for displaying flowers, comprising: a display platform having a plurality of coded receptacles for receiving coded flower containers; a plurality of coded flower containers located within corresponding coded receptacles; and a characteristic code on each coded receptacle and each coded flower container identifying a flower characteristic.

2. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 1, wherein the coded flower containers are constructed of disposable, water-impermeable material.

3. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 1, wherein the characteristic code identifies a species of flower.

4. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 1, wherein the characteristic code identifies a price of flowers.

5. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 1, wherein the characteristic code identifies a freshness expiration date of a flower.

6. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 1, wherein the characteristic code on a coded flower container includes a Universal Parcel Code (UPC) sticker.

7. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 1, wherein the characteristic code on a coded flower container includes a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Integrated Circuit (IC) chip.

8. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 1, wherein the display platform includes a flower cooler.

9. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 1, wherein the display platform includes a table.

10. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 1, wherein the coded receptacles include a colored ring for positioning a coded flower container thereon.

11. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 1, wherein the coded receptacles include a hole for receiving the coded flower container therein.

12. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 1, wherein the coded flower containers are buckets made of disposable, water-impermeable material.

13. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 12, further comprising: a flower wrapper surrounding a group of flowers, wherein the flower wrapper and the group of flowers are placed within a coded flower container, and the flower wrapper includes a characteristic code.

14. A system for displaying flowers, comprising: a display platform having a plurality of coded receptacles for receiving disposable coded flower containers; a plurality of coded disposable flower containers, each coded disposable flower container contained within a coded receptacle; at least one flower contained within each coded disposable flower container; and a characteristic code on the coded receptacles and the coded disposable flower containers identify a flower characteristic.

15. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 14, further comprising: a wrapper surrounding at least one flower, wherein the wrapper is contained within a coded disposable flower container.

16. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 15, wherein the wrapper includes a characteristic code.

17. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 16, wherein the wrapper is comprised of a polypropylene sleeve.

18. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 14, wherein at least one receptacle includes a hole.

19. A system for displaying flowers, comprising: a cooler for displaying flowers in a retail environment, the cooler including a plurality of receptacles for receiving disposable flower buckets; a plurality of disposable flower buckets located within receptacles of the cooler; and a flower type code on the receptacles and the disposable flower buckets, thereby enabling a salesperson to quickly and easily identify which disposable flower bucket goes in each receptacle.

20. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 19, wherein the characteristic code includes a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Integrated Circuit (IC) chip which identifies a freshness expiration date of a flower.

21. The system for displaying flowers as set forth in claim 19, wherein the characteristic code on a includes a Universal Parcel Code (UPC) sticker.

22. A method for displaying flowers, said method comprising the steps of: grouping flower bunches by a predetermined characteristic; assigning a characteristic code to each flower bunch; placing the flower bunches into corresponding disposable coded flower containers having characteristic codes matching the characteristic codes of the flower bunches; sending the flower bunches within the disposable coded flower containers to a seller for display and sale; and placing the disposable coded flower containers holding the flower bunches into coded receptacles of a flower display having characteristic codes matching the disposable flower containers.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a system for displaying fresh cut flowers for retail sale, and more particularly, to a coded modular bucket system for displaying and replenishing flowers to be sold inside a flower cooler.

BACKGROUND OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

Selling a perishable commodity such as freshly cut flowers in a retail environment has many challenges. Flowers typically are displayed in a cooler having several shelves for flower buckets. Different types of flowers are placed within the buckets at random locations throughout the display cooler. These flower buckets are typically plastic, and each bucket must be cleaned and disinfected before a new set of flowers is placed within each flower bucket, otherwise mold and bacteria can harm the new flowers. The labor cost associated with cleaning and maintaining these flower buckets can quickly cut into the profits of a flower retailer, such as supermarkets and mass markets.

Organizing and sorting new flowers for sale is an ongoing problem. Retail flower displays are typically a mixture of various types of flowers placed at random throughout the display cooler. A customer must sort through numerous types of flowers to find the type or price of flower he or she desires. Moreover, a flower clerk, associate, or flower manager, has the non-enviable task of trying to determine which types or species of flowers need to be restocked, and which of the currently displayed flower types or species are becoming too old or past their freshness date. This task requires the flower manager to be extremely familiar with flowers and the specific flower display-arrangement. A passing clerk, associate, or store manager is generally unable to determine, by looking at the flower display, which flowers need to be replaced or which flowers are becoming too old to sell. These additional skills required of an employee increases labor cost and reduces profit.

Furthermore, flower assortments are typically sent by growers to retailers in unmarked, plastic, ten-inch diameter buckets. Eight bunches of mixed or similar type flowers are generally shipped in each bucket. Upon receiving the flower buckets full of flowers from a grower, a skilled flower manager or clerk must recognize and determine which specific types of flowers are located within each bucket. The skilled flower person must then organize and transfer each specific flower bunch to the proper location within the retail display, such as a flower cooler. This process takes additional time and requires skilled labor to accomplish, which further cuts into a retailer's profit.

Accordingly, it would be desirable to provide a flower display format and system enabling a typical out of department clerk, associate or store manager, who does not possess expertise in flowers, to quickly determine which flower species need to be restocked in a flower display and which flowers are too old to sell.

OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

In order to overcome these deficiencies in the prior art, an object of the present invention is to provide a system for coding a display case and flower buckets so that an out of department clerk or store manager, who does not have any special knowledge of flowers, can quickly determine if a species of flowers needs to be restocked or replaced.

Another object of the present invention to eliminate labor cost associated with cleaning the flower buckets of a flower display case by using disposable flower buckets.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a system enabling a typical clerk or flower associate to quickly organize newly received flowers from a grower and place the appropriate types of flowers at pre-designated locations within a retail flower display.

In order to achieve these objects, the present invention provides a system for displaying flowers having a display platform with a plurality of coded receptacles for receiving coded flower containers, a plurality of coded flower containers located within corresponding coded flower receptacles, and a characteristic code on each coded receptacle and each coded flower container identifying a flower characteristic. The coded flower containers are preferably constructed of disposable, water-impermeable treated paper buckets that hold water for at least twenty days, and a characteristic code can identify price, species, and expiration date of flowers. The coded receptacles further enable a clerk or floral associate to quickly organize a retail flower display by matching the characteristic codes of the flower buckets with the characteristic codes of the flower receptacles. Additionally, the disposable flower containers eliminate the labor cost and time delay associated with cleaning and maintaining conventional, reusable flower buckets.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a retail display cooler of freshly cut flowers featuring color-coded buckets and receptacles configured in accordance with the present invention; and

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a table flower display configured in accordance with the present invention.

While the invention will be described in connection with the preferred embodiments, there is no intent to limit the invention to those embodiments. On the contrary, the intent is to cover all its alternatives, modifications, and equivalents included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Turning now to the drawings, FIG. 1 illustrates a flower display 10 configured in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention. A cooler cabinet 11 includes glass sides 9 with glass doors 13 having handles 14. The cooler cabinet 11 includes shelves 17,18,19 for holding flower buckets 20, 22, 24. The cabinet 11 and shelves 17,18,19 can be constructed of numerous materials, such as wood or plastic. The frame 15 of the cooler cabinet 11 generally is constructed of steel. The cooler cabinet includes a compressor (not shown) for cooling.

In accordance with a first aspect of the present invention, the flower buckets 20,22,24 are constructed of disposable, water-impermeable material, so that the flower buckets 20,22,24 can be simply discarded when the flowers contained within are sold. The disposable material preferably is environmentally friendly, so as not to harm the environment or landfills. An example of a preferred material is paper coated with a water-resistant material, similar to paper milk cartons or paper orange juice containers, which are commonly sold in grocery stores.

Milk cartons are typically constructed of polyethylene-coated paper-board. In aseptic versions of drink-filled cartons, aluminum foil lamina is generally incorporated. U.S. Pat. No. 4,691,858, issued to Peer, Jr., which is hereby incorporated by reference, teaches numerous materials and processes for constructing disposable water-impermeable material for milk cartons, which can be the same material for constructing the disposable flower buckets 20,22,24 of the present invention. Furthermore, disposable, water-impermeable food buckets, similar to those used by KFC (previously Kentucky Fried Chicken) restaurants, may be used as flower buckets 20,22,24. Instawares, a restaurant supply store, currently sells waxed, water-impermeable food buckets, which may be used as disposable flower buckets 20,22,24 for the present invention. In the preferred embodiment, the disposable, water-impermeable flower buckets consist of a gauge or thickness approximately four times that of the well-known KFC family chicken bucket. The buckets are preferably a standardized size of 7.5 inches tall and have a diameter of 7.5 at the top opening. Of course, different size disposable, water-impermeable flower buckets may be used in accordance with the invention.

In accordance with a further aspect of the present invention, the flower cooler cabinet 11 provides shelves 17,18,19 for holding the coded flower containers 20,22,24, which are located within corresponding or matching coded receptacles 30,32,34. The coded receptacles 30,32,34 are preferably indentations or slots within the shelves 17,18,19, but a receptacle may include a hole 36 passing completely through the shelf 18. Flowers of the same species, or potted plants, may be located within a single flower bucket. Pon poms 40, daisies 42, or roses 44. Similar flowers may also include bulb type flowers, such as tulips. Furthermore, a flower bucket 38 may include mixed bouquets 46 or consumer bunches.

As shown in FIG. 1, each flower container or bucket 20,22,24 holds a particular type or species of flower. For example, pon poms 40 are held in a first flower container 20, daisies 42 are held in a second flower container 22, and roses 44 are held in a third flower container 24. Each species of flower is associated with a code characteristic, such as color. For example, pon poms 40 are held in containers 20 having a purple color 50, daisies 42 are held in container 22 having a yellow color 52, and roses 44 are held in containers containers 24 having red color 54. Similarly, purple containers 20 are placed in purple receptacles 30, yellow containers 22 are placed in yellow receptacles 32, and red containers 24 are placed in red receptacles 34, and so forth. The coloring 50,52,54 of the flower containers or buckets 20,22,24 is preferably on the outside of the flower containers 20,22,24. The coloring of the receptacles 30,32,34,36 preferably is located on the inside rim 55, top surface 56, or periphery 57 of the receptacles 30,32,34,36.

The color code of the flower container or bucket indicates which flower type or species is located within each bucket. Specific flower species, or groups of flowers, are placed within specifically colored flower containers. In this manner, a salesperson can quickly prepare and fill a flower display by simply placing the color coded buckets in a matching color coded receptacle. In a similar manner, a salesperson or store manager can quickly determine which flower buckets having a particular type or types of flowers need to be restocked by observing the color of the empty or available colored receptacles.

Moreover, a flower bucket 38 may be coded by a ring 39 on the periphery 41, or by the wrapping paper 26 surrounding the flowers 46 within the bucket 38. The variations for marking the flower buckets can be quite numerous. Additionally, coding can be achieved by methods other than color, such as graphic designs, symbols, or even pictures. Furthermore, the coding characteristic of the flower buckets 20,22,24 and receptacles 30,32,34 may identify additional information, such as price or freshness expiration date. In this manner, a flower display can be ensured to include fresh flowers having a broad variety of species at various price levels. The coding also can designate particular flower arrangements or the number of flowers contained within each flower container.

While the receptacles 30,32,34 are preferably a cutout, slot, or indentation in the shelves 17,18, the receptacles 37 may include a hole passing completely through the shelf 18. If the receptacle 37 includes a hole, a bottom portion 28 of the flower bucket may pass through the shelf 18. Furthermore, the receptacles 36 may simply be a designated location 56 on the shelf 19, designated by a circle or ring 57 on the flat, top surface of the shelf 19. The ring 57 is preferably colored to identify the proper flower species container or bucket to be place at that location.

Referring now to FIG. 2, a flower display 100 table is illustrated in accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention. A table 102 provides a flower display platform for receptacles 130,132,134. Furthermore, flower wrappers 110,112,114 are color coded to designate flower characteristics. In this embodiment, the flowers containers 120,122,124 may remain on the table 102 when flowers are sold, and new flower wrappers 110, 112,114 holding the appropriate flower type or species, and matching the characteristic code of an open flower container 120,122,124, is used to properly identify, match and refill the open flower container 120,122,124. Similar to the flower display cabinet 11 in FIG. 1, a salesperson or store manager can quickly determine which flowers need to be restocked by looking at the open coded flower containers 120,122,124 or receptacles 130, 132, 134 on the table 102.

FIG. 2 also shows how colored paper or wrapping 108 overhanging the outer lip of the flower container 120 can be used to identify the characteristic code a flower container or flower bucket. In this example, the overhanging wrapping paper 108 is color coded purple to identify the pon poms 140 to be located within the flower bucket 120. Similarly, the wrapping paper 110 is color coded purple to identify that the pon poms 140 are to be placed within the purple bucket 120.

In keeping with modern technology, the characteristic code may be identified by using a Universal Product Code (UPC) sticker 150 or a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Integrated Circuit (IC) 152 chip. In such an embodiment, a salesperson uses a scanner or receiver to identify and determine the characteristic code of a coded flower container.

In accordance with a method of the present invention, flower bunches are sent from a whole seller in color coded wrappers 110, 112, 114 and color coded disposable flower buckets 120,122,124. The flower associate at the retailer, upon receipt of the coded flower buckets 120,122,124, simply places the flower buckets 120,122,124, which include flower bunches corresponding to the coded flower bucket, within receptacles 130,132,134 having matching characteristic codes to those of the coded flower buckets. In this manner, flowers received by the retailer from the whole seller can be quickly and economically unpacked and displayed at the proper locations of a retail flower display by a clerk who does not have any specialized knowledge about flowers. Afterwards, the flower display can be easily maintained by observing which coded flower receptacles need to be restocked, and simply restocking empty flower receptacles or old flowers with new flower bunches or flower buckets having a matching characteristic code.