Monrovia And Lowe's: The Industry Reacts
Retailers and growers respond to a former independent-exclusive brand being sold at a mass merchant. Opinions are on the strong side.
August 27, 2012
After the news broke that Monrovia would begin selling their branded plants in Lowe’s in 2013, the industry reacted immediately. Below are a sampling of your comments from GreenhouseGrower.com, our sister magazine's website, TodaysGardenCenter.com, and both Facebook pages, which range from angry to philosophical. Also included are responses from Monrovia representatives, James Szadek and Tim Barthel.
"I dont see Monrovia making any profit in a retail situation. They have great products, but they are very expensive. Homeowners are pinching pennys these days, and I do not think they will be able to pay a premium price for anything."
— Anton Fearn
"A business just has to do what it has to do to stay alive. It sounds like a good venture between the two companies. I wonder if Lowe's has talked Monrovia into scan and pay. I have also heard and seen where some of the bedding plant growers put their own people in at the retail locations to water and care for plants, as well as wait on customers. What’s wrong with this picture?"
— Ron Edwards
"For many years, we carried Monrovia product in our Texas store. Then, a few years ago, it became very difficult for us to do business with Monrovia — no service from any sales reps, huge freight costs and such high minimum orders that we finally gave up on carrying the brand. We are a very large independent with a very long history with Monrovia. I'm not surprised that they could not reach their sales goal to independents with the type of service we received in the past few years."
— Katherine Smith
“It does worry me quite a bit that the box stores are getting the same product we have at independents. But on the independent garden center end, we need to make sure we can differentiate ourselves with better service, product and shopability. Recently I went to a few other independents and some box stores. The box stores were organized a lot better, product looked nicer, and the staff was much friendlier. If I was a plant grower, I would want my plants where they are going to be showcased the best and I will sell more. Our challenge as independents is to go into these box stores and honestly compare ourselves to them. Then go out and beat the pants off of them in service and quality!”
— Justin Schuiteman
“Monrovia has decided to partner with the box stores at the expense of the independent garden center customers who built them. As they find that more independent garden centers drop them, they will be more and more tied to the big box pricing structure. Eventually quality will suffer and Monrovia having placed too many eggs in the Big Box basket will die off with a whimper. RIP Monrovia."
— Kevin Wilson
“Kevin, For 16 years we have had all of our eggs in the independent garden center basket and were hoping for many more years in the future. The eggs are getting less and less, we all need to diversify or die. Most consumers do not walk into a store asking for a brand, they purchase it when they see the brand on the shelf and relate it towards a good thing. Monrovia has been a strong partner for our industry for 87 years to show consumers that plants are special and different. Many garden centers still carry Scotts, Proven Winners and Endless Summer because these brands sell and at the end of the day we all want empty shelves!”
— Tim Barthel
“The question here is whether Monrovia agreed to pay-by-scan. If so, then that will be my terms as well.”
— David Jackson
“Thanks David. … And to answer your question, the Lowe's agreement is not pay-by-scan."
— James Szadek
“Unless Monrovia has some hands-on control of how their product is taken care of, this will tarnish their reputation with the consumer and cheapen their brand to the independent garden center.”
— Jim Schroer
“I went to the Apple store to buy my iPad for the experience at their great retail store. I still love Apple, even though I could have bought the iPad at Best Buy or Walmart. Endless Summer Hydrangea is everywhere; people buy it from the places they like the most.”
— Tim Barthel
“Hang in there, indies. Give Monrovia plants at Lowe's two weeks and see if they survive. Impulse shoppers will only buy if the price is right. Monrovia is kidding themselves if they think this relationship will not discount the life out of them.”
— Susan White
“Independents are being pushed out of business by the big box stores. Seeing Knock Out roses and Endless Summer hydrangeas in Lowe’s, Walmart and Sam's Club this spring really broke my heart. We gave these businesses their start and they are undercutting us. What will be the prices of the plants being sold to Lowe's? And will those prices be available for the independents? Independents that have been very loyal to Monrovia for years!”
— Laura Sherman
“I don't have customers asking for Monrovia-specific product that often, but I always knew they would only find it in independents, not the big boxes. This will surely change my purchase plans with Monrovia from now on!”
— Kyle Aurit
“Once a brand hits the chain stores, it’s the beginning of the decline of the brand. Look at Martha Stewart, Proven Winners, etc. Independent garden centers have to work harder at creating their own branding in the future.”
— Jack Crawford
“For all the independent garden centers, it's gonna be all downhill from now on. Do you honestly think that the best of the best won't eventually wind up in the discounters? Maybe 10 years ago, Monrovia always wanted a major commitment from us. I was told we wouldn't be buying enough to have Monrovia products in our store. My, how times have changed.”
— Tim Lamprey
“I guess they had no choice. Very disappointed and we won't be carrying them at our independent garden center anymore. Our whole image is built around being smaller, local and having better quality plants than what you can get at Lowe's and Home Depot.”
— Melissa Kidd Langley
“Proven Winners, Knockout roses, Endless Summer hydrangeas, Wave petunias, the list goes on, are everywhere. We have bigger things like drought and watering bans to worry about.”
— Dottie Warner
“As a supplier, if you add value to your product/program you will be successful no matter where it’s sold.”
— Jay Kelly
“Bottom line, though, is that the Monrovia name will be in the discounters, thus diminishing the uniqueness of the independent garden center.”
— Curtis Jones