IGCs Put their Own Spin on Pink Days, Draw Crowds

From: IGC Retailer, March/April, 2013

IGCs Put their Own Spin on Pink Days, Draw Crowds

PINK EXTRAS From contests and pink treats to personalized pink bells for sale to benefit the cause, the creative ideas from garden centers keep coming.

More IGC retailers across the United States and Canada than ever are hosting Pink Days - to the benefit of everyone involved. Proven Winners ColorChoice’s Social Media and Cause Marketing Specialist Stacey Hirvela says she’s had more than 40 new inquiries from garden centers, including those with multiple locations, interested in holding their own Pink Days this year.

Garden centers say Pink Days are a win-win all around: customers feel good about supporting a cause and shopping with a local independent who’s making a difference; the charities benefit from the fundraising; and the garden centers gain publicity, traffic and sales.

Since 2009, when Proven Winners ColorChoice introduced the Invincibelle Spirit pink hydrangea, the company has donated $1 from the sale of every plant to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. To date, garden centers have helped raise more than $642,000, as the march moves forward toward the $1 million goal.

To help IGC retailers plan and host Pink Days, Proven Winners ColorChoice offers a toolkit of resources available for download at www.invincibellespirit.net. Many garden centers are putting their own spins on the event as well.

Personal Touches
Last May was the first time Evergreen Nursery in San Leandro, CA, held a Pink Day. “It was a really worthy cause, and it was about women,” the garden center’s primary customer, says Visual Merchandiser/Graphic Designer Darlene Davidge.

Evergreen put a personal touch on the event, inviting a former employee who is a breast cancer survivor to speak. “We had a tent set up in the parking lot with pink foods and pink lemonade that our employees made,” Davidge says. “This former employee hung out by the tent and talked to people. It was very personal.”

Talk about personal. It was a no-brainer when Vickie Albert, Manager of Brodak Greenhouses in Pennsylvania, hosted a Pink Day again last year. “In 2009, I was diagnosed with stage IIIA breast cancer. It was in my lymph nodes,” she says. “The hospital that I went to was at West Virginia University, the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center. I have insurance, but it only pays so much. The university medical center’s Comfort Fund took me in and got me financial aid. So each year, I donate the Pink Day money to that Comfort Fund.”

To help raise more money for the cause, Uncle John’s Plants, Home & Garden in Olmsted Falls, OH, came up this clever idea: “We took 2-inch clay pots, painted them pink, turned them upside down and attached little bells inside,” says Retail Manager Marcia Hawkins. “Then, as we sold the bells, we hung them on a wrought iron tree we have here in the store. The customer would put the name of a loved one who they were either praying for or had lost to breast cancer on the bell.” The bells cost a dollar each, and Uncle John’s sold about 225.

It wasn’t required that customers include their e-mail address and cell phone numbers on the bell form and raffle entries at Uncle John’s Pink Day, but many did. As a result, the garden center grew its e-newsletter and text messaging club for future marketing purposes. The garden center saw new faces, too, thanks to the Pink Day. Hawkins says, “People came in and said, ‘My friend told me you were doing this Pink Day, and I want to purchase a couple bells.’”  

Promotions that Pay Off
To help market its Pink Day, Nature’s Corner in Holland, OH, coordinated the event with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, held locally on a Sunday in late September. The garden center hosts its Pink Day the day before, on Saturday. “Everyone in the community is psyched about it, and they have a huge turnout, so it helps us,” says Store Manager Jenny Amstutz.

Nature’s Corner does a live TV spot every Saturday with a local news station, which is also a sponsor of Race for the Cure. That partnership has paid off. “During the whole week leading up to the event, Channel 11 gives us a shout out, saying, ‘Don’t forget, next weekend we’ll be out at Pink Day at Nature’s Corner.’” While the Pink Day is going on, Amstutz does her two Saturday TV segments.

To excite managers and staff about holding their Pink Day for the first time, Meadows Farms Nurseries, with locations in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, created a friendly competitive challenge among the garden center’s 22 locations. “We had one contest for the store that created the best atmosphere and another for the location that raised the most money,” says Vice President of Marketing Bobby Lewis. “The winners of those contests saw an extra $500 donated to the cause in their specific name. It was a pride thing.”

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