Blackhawk Garden Center,
Finding Blackhawk Garden Center tucked behind a shopping center in Charlotte, NC, is like discovering a hidden paradise. The brainchild of Jim Wilkerson, Owner of Blackhawk Hardware, was a diamond in the rough when it started. Through the years, it has grown from a small, mostly hardgoods store into a green goods destination known for its inspirational displays and spectacular container gardens.
Located in a well-established and affluent neighborhood, Blackhawk Garden Center opened its doors in 2001. However, Wilkerson’s vision of a verdant oasis wasn’t fully realized until 2007, when he hired Jody Shaul as manager. During the store’s transformation, Shaul worked with a key group of suppliers to expand Blackhawk’s offerings, and trained the staff in dynamic merchandising techniques.
Shaul’s displays use plants of varying heights, shapes and textures to create visual interest that commands customers’ attention. “Each display must have high, medium and low plants, and they must have splashes of color,” he says. The same philosophy is applied to Blackhawk’s container gardens, which feature “spillers, thrillers and fillers” for pizazz.
The garden center’s presentation of plants is so compelling, some customers buy complete garden vignettes. They have Blackhawk deliver and set them up at their homes, just as they saw them in the garden center.
Indeed, the power of good design is something Shaul has witnessed time and time again. “We had an 3'x8' display area that was so imaginative and well-designed, we sold thousands of dollars of product off that one design alone,” he says. “Our customers are looking for that something really, really special. We look around at what other garden centers are doing, and try to fill the need they are missing.”
From: IGC Retailer, November/December, 2013