Rick Picks Self-Watering Boxes
"I'm a huge fan of self-watering boxes," says Rick Bayless, celebrity chef, GYO advocate and the IGC Show's Wednesday morning keynote. They're the perfect solution for gardeners with limited space - and the best part is, they require minimal maintenance, a strong selling point for time-stretched Gen X / Gen Y consumers. "You can go away for the weekend, and your plants will be in good shape when you get back." Read more about Rick's passion for GYO on page 53.
Don't Ask, Just Help!
"Need any help there?" is not something you'll hear an employee at Mesquite Valley Growers Nursery in Tucson, AZ, say. Owner Thomas Birt makes it clear to new hires that they shouldn't ask a customer if she needs help - they are expected to jump in, grab the bags of fertilizer, etc. and high-step it to the parking lot. Tom feels strongly that it is his duty to provide personalized care up front - because the orange and blue guys don't!
Top Gardening Cities
Certain spots in the United States are more green-thumbed than others, according to Scarborough, a market research company that measures shopping patterns. The No. 1 cities, tied at 63 percent of households that dig gardening, are Seattle and Portland, OR. Salt Lake City came in next at 62 percent. Milwaukee, Columbus, OH, Spokane, WA, and Sacramento, CA, round out the list, tallying 58 percent.
Get Ready for Garden Trucks
As the food truck craze shifts into high gear, experts are eyeing ways to take other retail concepts on the road. Apparel retailers are already driving trendy threads to their customer bases at urban events. IGCs may be smart to grab a restored panel truck and make it their "drive-up" garden center. City center produce markets and art fairs provide a wealth of sales potential and the opportunity to draw new brick-and-mortar store clientele.
Attitude Wins ... or Loses
As with many things in life, attitude is the deciding difference between success and failure. Recent shopper research shows the No. 1 pet peeve of customers is having to put up with staff who appear bored. If your employees look like they don't want to be in your store, neither will your customers. It's well worth a reminder to your staff that they are entertainers as well as hosts. They need to leave their concerns at home, and be a light to your store.
Lemonade from Lemons
Don't miss another opportunity to turn the public on to the benefits of plants and trees! During the recent heat wave that swept much of the nation, many garden centers were contacted by their local media for quotes on how terrible the conditions were. We all know news reporters love a negative angle, but a few savvy IGC retailers instead took the opportunity to extol the shading and cooling benefits our products and services provide. Smart!
Gardening with God
Recent focus group studies on gardeners' attitudes about the reasons they garden turned up some mighty findings. Among the responses to the survey conducted by the Connecticut Nursery & Landscape Association (CNLA) was "feeling closer to God and nature" and "the garden provides an escape, takes you into another world." CNLA reminds us that what we need to market isn't plants but what they deliver!