July 21, 2009

Walmart Introduces Eco-Ratings

Walmart is embarking on a three-phase plan called the sustainable product index that will impact all Walmart stores and suppliers. With the world’s population increasing and natural resources decreasing, Walmart recognizes its customers demand better, responsibly produced products. Walmart’s index will highlight product efficiency, which includes product longevity, performance and how it was produced. Phase one begins with a 15-question survey created by Walmart and sent out to more than 100,000 of its suppliers. It will be used to determine just how sustainable the mass merchandiser’s suppliers already are. Phase two will involve the cooperation of universities, retailers, suppliers and other third-party committees. These groups will work together to create a single database. The database will eventually cover the lifecycle of every product sold at Walmart. Lastly, phase three will use the index formed in phase two and create a rating system. The ratings will be added to the products […]

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July 21, 2009

Singing Over Spring?

Was spring a success or a failure for your greenhouse operation this year? Your answer, of course, depends on your definition of “success” and the goals you set for your operation months ago. Did you have your sights set on sales increases of 10 percent over 2008? Five percent? Perhaps your goal simply was to survive the season and ride out the recession so you’d be in position to give spring yet another shot in 2010. However you define success, the growers who took our Industry Pulse Follow-Up survey in June tend to agree Spring 2009 was a good one. Eighty-six percent of survey respondents called spring a success for their business this year. Only 14 defined it as a failure. So what made spring a success for so many? Many respondents attribute their success to the boom in herbs and vegetables. Among those who grew them this spring, 34 […]

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July 20, 2009

In His Words: Jason Parks On Spring At Retail

Every year when spring is over, I like to pick a market and visit our customers there to see how their spring went and to get a feel for what they expect next year to be like. For growers it is critical that we spend time talking to our customers to determine what is really important to them. Recently, I made a trip up north and visited nine garden centers. Some of the garden centers were already customers of ours; some say they will be next year, and some are not and probably will never be. The market I visited has a combined metropolitan area population of 782,000 people, and a median household income of $47,193 (2004) for the main population county. All the garden centers I visited reported having a good, bordering on great, spring. As usual we were able to talk more with the ones we already had […]

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July 20, 2009

Just Ask To Sell More

I met a new friend who works in the rubber industry as a sales manager. He is a great guy who is deeply involved in that industry, as well as with his church and the Michigan State University (MSU) community. His wife is also involved with MSU activities as a Master Gardener and volunteers as a docent in the 4-H Children’s Garden. They are both active in the music department and athletic department at MSU. They attend all hockey, football, men’s and women’s basketball games, and so on. They are really true Spartans! The couple also is active in the community and their neighborhood where my friend’s wife serves as treasurer of the homeowners’ association. I enjoy observing all the activities they are involved in and seeing how happy they are! An Outsider’s View Recently, I asked my friend to take a look at our industry. From the information I […]

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July 14, 2009

7-Eleven Calls Credit Processing Fees ‘Excessive’

7-Eleven Inc. is trying to solicit 1 million signatures from customers for a petition calling for Congress to change credit card processing fees. Company officials call the transaction fees, charged each time a card is swiped, “unfair and excessive,” according to a story in the Dallas Morning News. “The card companies merely pick a rate and then they charge away–no notice, no discussion,” says Keith Jones, a 7-Eleven lobbyist, in the story. “In fact, we rarely know before we start paying higher fees that the card companies have new rates.” The rates hit operations like convenience stores the hardest because the rate at which consumers are using credit and debit cards is increasing, but sometimes the purchases are for small dollar amounts, resulting in a loss at times for retailers. 7-Eleven alone, with 6,300 stores in the U.S., paid $160 million to credit card companies last year. It’s working with […]

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July 7, 2009

Walmart Backs Employer-Provided Health Care

The motive is unclear, but retail giant Walmart has come out in support of an employer-provided health care model. The company made its position known via a letter to President Obama, according to a recent Los Angeles Times story. President Obama has said employer-provided coverage is vital to helping cover the more than 46 million people in the country who lack health insurance. “It’s pretty clear that we’re advocating for reform,” Greg Rossiter, a Walmart spokesman, told L.A. Times reporter David Lazarus last week. “We’ve said for some time that we support health care reform. It needs to be comprehensive and it needs to happen.” Many view Walmart’s stance as a positive move forward to providing health care coverage to all U.S. citizens, but the motivation behind it is still unclear. In past years, Walmart has come under fire for its own dismal coverage for its 1.4 million workers. “Walmart […]

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June 23, 2009

Walmart TV Ad Causing Stir

The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus and H-E-B Grocery Co. are challenging Walmart ads. The Walmart ads in question tell consumers if they spend $100 a week on groceries at a supermarket, they could save on average over $700 a year buying groceries at Walmart. H-E-B is also challenging the Walmart notion of “unbeatable prices,” which the grocery chains says is interpreted by consumers as a lowest-price guarantee. After H-E-B made its claims against Walmart, NAD conducted a study of Walmart’s ads and concluded the following: Walmart could indeed support its “unbeatable prices” advertising claims, but it should clarify its price-matching disclosures in ads where it uses the “unbeatable” claim. NAD also says Walmart should discontinue its $700 grocery savings claim because there’s no evidence supporting the claim. The landscape of grocers varies throughout the United States, NAD says, so there’s no way Walmart […]

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June 23, 2009

Growing For One?

Growing for the consumer, that’s what you do, no matter where your place is in the growing process. You have it down to a science − you know how many to grow and when to grow them. Now try placing the word “online” before consumer. At first take, it might sound like an unpredictable commitment on your end, with small, singular orders and all that individual packaging and postage. And some questions might arise: Is there a better chance to mark up your goods? Will you need to overhaul your growing strategies? In reality, the sale of online potted plants isn’t a shot in the dark or a guessing game, and as experts in the industry explain, it’s simply a demand for ”super high quality plants.” Responding With Quality There’s no question companies like FloraServ, ProFlowers and Red Envelope rely on their growers. And according to FloraServ’s Ben Swett, quality […]

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June 23, 2009

Slideshow: A New Look For Greenhouse Grower

Click through the pages below for a sneak preview of our updated design and some of the new features you’ll find starting in the July issue of Greenhouse Grower magazine.

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June 18, 2009

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Have you ever had the feeling you were sitting on a gold mine but no one wanted gold? Or that you had a $1 million home but no one could afford to buy it from you? Or that you owned a business but no one wanted to invest in it? Or that you stockpiled fuel at $4.00 a gallon and now it could be purchased for $2.50? If only we knew what was going to happen next year, our decisions would be simple, and we would always choose the right course of action. We must realize everything changes, and we must be prepared for change. Today, you can get a rate of 5-5.25 percent on a home mortgage. When I got my first home loan 40 years ago, the rate was 6.75 percent. However, there were times over the years when you couldn’t get a mortgage loan for less than […]

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