Hartville Makes More Room for Garden Selling

From: IGC Retailer, January/February, 2013

 
Hartville Makes More Room for Garden Selling
When Hartville Hardware made the move just a mile down the road from its former location in Hartville, OH, last year, the retailer nearly tripled its space. Indoors, including the basement, the store covers 280,000 square feet. “A lot of the things that we’ve gotten into over the last four or five years, such as appliances and flooring, were underserved in the old location, so those areas are getting substantially bigger,” says Manager Steve McMillen. The lawn and garden department is getting more room, too - a few thousand square feet.

Gardening contributes about 8 percent to the store’s bottom line annually. Hartville offers the gamut of merchandise - pottery, statuary, fountains, patio furniture, giftware, fireplaces and grills, to name some. In green goods, the company features annuals, perennials and a selection of bushes and trees. “At least 90 percent of our plants are locally sourced,” says McMillen. “The farthest away they come from is 50 miles. We find that to be an advantage because then the plants are already acclimated to our climate, so we don’t have to worry about bringing material in that’s not ready for the season.”

To keep in tune with the trends in lawn and garden, McMillen says, “Travelling to different places is really key, to see what’s going to be on the cutting edge.” The IGC Show has been an integral part of the success of Hartville’s merchandise mix, McMillen says: “Every year we go, we find gems that we’ve never seen anywhere else that we bring back to sell.”

Crossover Among Departments
Lawn and garden was added to Hartville in 1991, almost 20 years after it opened its doors, to attract more women. Now, it finds a wide crossover of customers shopping across departments. McMillen says, “We find people will shop the housewares department, then come over to the lawn and garden department.”

Hartville’s merchandising is designed to encourage customers to wander the store. “We want to showcase our products just like what they would look like at customers’ homes,” says Manager Jun Penaflor. “For example, our furniture is well-accessorized. We normally just make it look like it’s outside in someone’s yard.”

With the new larger space, Penaflor says they have come up with the ultimate merchandising plan: “We have a full 1,800-square-foot house inside the middle of the store. We’re calling it the Idea House. We accessorize it, and change it from time to time to give people ideas.”

The Idea House is a fully decorated, fully functioning home, including running water and electric. There is even a deck in the house’s “backyard” with a grill and patio set, as well as planted-up containers flanking the front doorway. Everything in the home is priced for sale. “Anything that’s in there, if you can pick it up, you can buy it,” says McMillen. “We also have a 150-year-old log cabin that’s been taken apart and reassembled inside the store, too - that’s in the tool department. So there’s a lot of cool things to look at.”                                               

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