Independents Hold As Much Promise – Or More – As Big Boxes For Growers

There have been a lot of articles in the press recently about the independent garden center sector, some of which cast a negative shadow on this vibrant sector. I have a totally different opinion of the independent market and feel it presents the greatest growth opportunity for the supply chain over the next five years.

First let me comment on the IGC Show held in August at Navy Pier in Chicago. This show was the most energetic and enthusiastic event of all the events we have attended in the past several years. The retailers were enthusiastic, as well as their vendors, with a lot of conversations centered on the potential growth and how to connect with the consumer.

Consider two major hardware chains, True Value and Ace Hardware, becoming far more active and opening many garden centers over the past two years.  True Value’s Home & Garden Showplace is working closely with their membership to provide more products and information on how to run a profitable garden center. True Value also recently announced a licensing deal with the Master Nursery group to help their members with more efficient buying and give them access to the Garden Elements plant brand. Look for these hardware companies to open hundreds of new garden centers over the next several years.

In traveling the country, we have visited some magnificent garden center operations that clearly tell me well managed independents can flourish even in today’s economic environment. When you see companies like Al’s Garden Centers in Oregon, Petitti’s Garden Centers in Ohio, Armstrong Garden Centers in California, and Tagawa, Welby and Nick’s in Denver, it is evident the market is strong for well-managed garden centers. These companies don’t sit around complaining about the big boxes, but I would bet the big boxes sit around complaining about them. Another great example is Bordine’s Nursery in Michigan, doing very well in arguably one of the most economically depressed states.

It is true a number of independents produce their own annuals and perennials, but the preponderance of them rely on the supply chain for their green goods. The demand over the next several years will increase as new businesses open and current garden centers expand, providing opportunity for growers. Clearly, the independents buy differently than the big boxes and that is driven by different wants and needs of this market segment. 

There has been a lot of information in the press recently about the independents– mostly favorable, but some have questioned their buying habits with comments and criticisms like these:

• Not taking commitments.
• No planning.
• Don’t take care of the plants.
• Whine about the big boxes.

Well-run companies don’t operate like this and it would be worthwhile to consider independents as a potential source of new revenue growth and to make a concerted effort to learn everything you can about them before writing them off. Too many times we all make assumptions that end up being unfounded causing us to miss opportunities.

Let me suggest that perhaps potential vendors take a more proactive approach starting with the mindset that garden centers are viable customer’s and have the potential to help you grow your business. Then it is your job to figure out their wants and needs by conducting sales interviews to uncover opportunities.

When is the last time you sat down with your garden center potentials one-on-one and asked them a series of questions about their issues, their problems? Ask them open-ended questions about their challenges, here are some examples:

• What are your biggest challenges for 2012?
• What would help you grow the bedding plant portion of your business?
• What are the most important attributes when selecting a vendor?
• In what areas would you like to see your current vendor improve?
• Tell me a little about your customer base?
• What are the services that are most important to you?
• What are your most important sizes and price points?

These are just some examples of questions you can use to uncover problems, needs and wants of your customers. Once you have a complete understanding of a potential customer, then it is time to make another sales call with a presentation based on what you discovered during the initial call.

The independent garden center is a growing segment and in my estimation will grow faster than the national retailers over the next five years.

About the author: Jerry Montgomery operates Montgomery Consulting Services and can be reached at 407-808-4077 or mrplug@cfl.rr.com.

 

Leave a Reply

More From Marketing...
Hendriks-Half-Open-Roof_GGS

March 26, 2015

10 Greenhouse Products For First-Rate Growing Environments

From coverings to fork-lifts, greenhouse suppliers offer a variety of products to make growing easier. Check out the slideshow to learn more about these, plus several other products that can offer you value, versatility and durability.

Read More
Rose rosette on Knockout rose, April 2012. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 25, 2015

$58 Million In APHIS Farm Bill Funding Will Support Horticulture Priorities

Nearly $58 million as been allocated by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to support the industry's Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program, under Farm Bill Section 10007. The program will support mitigation efforts for specialty crops, including providing research and other funding to address plant pest and disease priorities for the specialty crop industry, including floriculture and nursery crops.

Read More
AFE scholarship_Ryan Dickson

March 25, 2015

AFE Educational Grant And Scholarship Application Deadlines Approaching

Apply now for American Floral Endowment (AFE) scholarships or educational grants. Applications can be found online. For educational grants for 2015-2016, applications must be submitted no later than June 1. Scholarship applications are due May 1. AFE will award $40,000 in scholarships for 2015.

Read More
Latest Stories
Rose rosette on Knockout rose, April 2012. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 25, 2015

$58 Million In APHIS Farm Bill Funding Will Support Hor…

Nearly $58 million as been allocated by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to support the industry's Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program, under Farm Bill Section 10007. The program will support mitigation efforts for specialty crops, including providing research and other funding to address plant pest and disease priorities for the specialty crop industry, including floriculture and nursery crops.

Read More
National Floriculture Forum 2015 029

March 18, 2015

2015 National Floriculture Forum Focuses On Marketing I…

The 2015 National Floriculture Forum, held March 6 to 7 in Minneapolis, Minn., zeroed in on the topic of marketing in horticulture and included visits to Gertens Greenhouses and Garden Center, Bailey Nurseries, Bachman’s Floral, Home and Garden and Tangletown Gardens. The annual meeting allows greenhouse and floriculture faculty, graduate students and industry partners to meet and share updates on current research, issues and initiatives.

Read More

February 18, 2015

Range Of Nursery Inspections To Protect Patented Plants…

Plant patents are under protection, and breeders are fighting for their rights to keep growers from illegally propagating protected varieties. It's something you don't want to take a chance on, because the risk is far higher than the reward. More than 300 inspections were carried out last year from New York to British Columbia and from Ontario to Florida to protect plant patents, Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) and branded programs.

Read More

February 4, 2015

TPIE 2015: An Electrified Industry Vibe Boosts Cool New…

The general feeling at the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association's 2015 Tropical Industry Exhibition (TPIE) was upbeat and positive. Attendees were inspired by exciting new products and varieties, as well as creative new displays and innovative ideas and left energized for the season ahead.

Read More
Costa Farms Website

January 21, 2015

Costa Farms’ Launches New Interactive Website

Costa Farms is making efforts to educate consumers while pushing horticultural digital marketing forward with the re-design of its website. The new website features a fresh design and improved navigation, as well as a plant finder that gives gardeners easy access to plant information.

Read More

January 5, 2015

Growers Are Successfully Marketing The Benefits Of Pla…

Growers who are already marketing plant benefits and gardening as a lifestyle say they think this could be the best angle for the floriculture industry to promote our products.

Read More

January 5, 2015

Plants Love You Campaign Raises Plant Benefits To Foref…

Plants make us feel good. It’s a no-brainer, backed by numerous studies, but there’s more to the story. And it’s one the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance (COHA) hopes its Plants Love You campaign will tell in such a way that it will inspire people to make plants a part of their life, and on a bigger scale. COHA is an alliance between the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA), the Fédération Interdisciplinaire De L’Horticulture Ornementqale Du Québec (FIHOQ) and Flowers Canada Growers (FCG). Inspiration for The Plants Love You campaign came from COHA’s research, which revealed that 96 percent of consumers surveyed have a favorable attitude toward plants. When COHA delved deeper into the numbers, one thing stood out loud and clear. “It quickly became apparent that while consumers like plants because they are pretty and make them feel good, few understood the environmental and health benefits plants offer.” says Frank […]

Read More

December 9, 2014

New Website For PanAmerican Seed

PanAmerican Seed's new website is mobile-friendly and has a fresh look and enhanced navigation.

Read More
What’s a pumpulent? It’s a pumpkin planted with succulents, and it’s also one of the ways Altum’s is catching customers’ attention with new products and modern marketing.

December 1, 2014

9 Digital Marketing Resolutions For 2015

Whatever your experience with digital marketing, here’s some advice for keeping your business progressing into the new year.

Read More

November 25, 2014

Conley’s Launches New Website

Conley’s Manufacturing and Sales recently launched its newly designed website, which was redesigned to create a user-friendly digital environment for customers to explore Conley's products.

Read More

November 17, 2014

Canada’s Plants Love You Campaign Educates Consum…

In a cooperative effort to promote the benefits of plants to consumers, the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance (COHA) recently launched its Plants Love You campaign to make consumers more aware of the health, environmental and economic benefits of plants.

Read More
Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum™ Petunia from Proven Winners

November 11, 2014

Plantbid Offers New Tool For Growers, Plant Buyers

Plantbid is touted as a revolutionary new tool that allows plant buyers to purchase their whole plant list at one time, from growers who provide their complete availability online. According to the company, this new offering could change the way growers and landscapers do business.

Read More
Dahlia Dahlinova Temptation Lavender from Dummen Fides Oro

November 10, 2014

Bas Pellenaars Takes On New Role As Brand Manager For D…

Dümmen group announces the transition of Bas Pellenaars from area manager to brand manager.

Read More

October 28, 2014

Zombie Adventures Are Back: GGS Releases Premiere Of Ne…

What's good for plants, but bad for zombies? GGS structures. The company released a new promotional video to get growers in the spirit of Halloween. GGS Structures ran a series of zombie movies last year, and this year, something new was released October 24.

Read More
Suzanne McKee

October 27, 2014

Use Your Data To Make Smarter Marketing Decisions

Learn which marketing metrics are important to your business, measure successes and learn where changes are needed.

Read More
Sara Tambascio

October 2, 2014

How To Measure The Success Of Your Digital Marketing

Take a look at these metrics in your digital marketing to see if you’re connecting with your audience or just adding to the clutter.

Read More

September 26, 2014

How To Get The Digital Generation Into The Garden: Gard…

Capture millennials’ gardening interests with these marketing tips.

Read More
The Joseph Shinoda Memorial Scholarship Foundation

September 9, 2014

Shinoda Foundation Contributes Nearly $15,000 In Schola…

Based in California, the Joseph Shinoda Memorial Foundation's mission is to encourage educational opportunities for young people interested in entering the industry. Since 1965, the foundation has awarded $790,000 to more than 660 undergraduate floriculture students.

Read More