June 2, 2009

Survey: Consumers Shop On Quality

The survey wasn’t an exact science, but a survey conducted by our sister magazine, Today’s Garden Center, gave us an idea how people are shopping. Several of the editors pushed the survey out to friends and family (the only requirement was that they were not in the horticulture/floriculture industry). All told, 87 percent of the respondents were under 45 (88 people responded total). About 25 percent of those who responded were in their mid- to late-20s, and 18 percent were 30 to 34. What we found was a little surprising. Nearly 83 percent lived in a house or condo that they owned or rented (that’s not the surprising part). Of the 88 people who responded, more than three-fourths said they enjoyed gardening. That goes against the general feeling that the younger crowd doesn’t really like to garden, and does it more to increase their property value. Moreover, when we asked […]

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May 29, 2009

New Communications Agency Focuses On ‘Green’

Green Penguin Communications is a new communications agency launched because of renewed public interest in fresh produce and continued growth in the organic and sustainable sector. Green Penguin serves businesses in food, fiber, flowers and forest products, along with the suppliers to those industries. “Clients come to us because they want to connect with the sustainably driven customer,” says Annie Gardiner, founder and president of Green Penguin Communications who was previously an independent communications consultant who worked with companies in floriculture. “They are either looking for an effective promotional strategy or want tactical support in getting their story in front of the right people.” The Green Penguin team also features a unique capability: certification communications. The agency can help companies harness the power of their organic or sustainability certification in the marketplace. For more information on Green Penguin Communications, click here.

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May 27, 2009

You Say Tomato

Homegrown herbs and vegetables are at a popularity level not seen in a generation, and thanks to a host of branded programs on the market, growers and retailers have plenty of opportunities to capitalize on the trend.  Plug Connection’s Organiks line of organic herbs and vegetables, for example, appeals to consumers through its unique, colorful packaging. “We decided to go with the lifestyle look,” says Josh Schneider of Cultivaris, a consulting firm to Plug Connection. “We basically ignored the perceived wisdom that you need an exact picture of the plant.”   Instead, the thyme plant, for instance, features a picture of halibut with a thyme sauce, and the pepper tags feature a photo of mouth-watering kabobs. “The entire Organiks marketing concept, with the bench cards, signs and all of the supporting marketing material, is to showcase the big, lush, beautiful opportunity that is presented to you as you’re standing there […]

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May 22, 2009

O2 For You Visits Boston

Mothers in Boston hospitals each received a potted peace lily for their newborn babies May 14, when O2 For You: Houseplants With A Purpose visited.   Costa Farms teamed up with Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots youth program and volunteers from B.O.L.D. Teens, delivering live plants and build-and-grow kits to families in Dorchester, Mass. The O2 for You campaign highlights the many health benefits of indoor plants, including the production of oxygen to improve indoor air quality both at home and in the workplace. For more information on O2 For You, visit www.o2foryou.org.

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May 22, 2009

Montgomery’s Cincinnati Retail Report

In the Cincinnati market, you know before you arrive that retail will be interesting. Bell Nursery serves the market, and it clearly was not disappointing. It was a Monday after a very busy weekend when I visited, so it was not typical of the store condition. On top of that, Bell was doing an extensive inventory. The stores were not yet back in shape from the weekend, but it was easy to see the merchandising was far above average by merely looking at the displays that had been put back in shape. As usual, the Bell merchandisers were working hard. They still paid a lot of attention to customers that needed assistance. Home Depot Clearly the leader in this market is Home Depot because of the Bell performance. Word is they are up significantly in store comps year over year, which is not surprising. As in other Bell areas, Home […]

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May 21, 2009

Plain Dealer Tells Eagle Creek Wholesale’s Story

Eagle Creek Wholesale, a greenhouse operation in Mantua, Ohio, is featured in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer today because of its drive toward green technologies. John Bonner, general manager of Eagle Creek, is now relying on wind turbines, solar panels and other energy-efficient technologies to lessen his energy costs. He’s currently heating his 3.5 acres of greenhouse space with manure, sawdust and woodchips. “I like the idea of being a steward and taking care of the planet,” Bonner told the Plain Dealer. To read the full Plain Dealer story, click here.

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May 19, 2009

1-800-FLOWERS.com President Speaking At Seeley

The 24th annual Seeley Conference at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. is being held from June 28 to July 1 this year. Stan Pohmer, CEO of Pohmer Consulting Group, is coordinating the conference and focusing it on overcoming chaos opportunities for growers in a challenging year. Following are just a few of the questions and topics to be discussed at Seeley Conference. – Chaos, or market disruption, creates new opportunities to reposition and differentiate. Are you ready?–Consumer mindsets and purchase behaviors have changed dramatically. Are they permanent?–Business Darwinism: Survival goes not to the strongest, but to those who are the quickest to adapt to change. Where do you stand?–We’ve become comfortable with evolutionary change. Chaos calls for revolutionary change! Can you cope?–What’s your value message? Is it relevant to today’s customers and how do you communicate it?–Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, blogs, podcasts are all new tools to reach tomorrow’s consumers.  Are […]

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May 19, 2009

View: The Gardening Boom Of 2009

In case you haven’t heard, according to CNBC and other media sources, we are in the middle of a gardening boom. Scares from salmonella, a return to an organic lifestyle, a way to save money on the grocery bills and gardening as an alternative to exotic, pricey vacation are some of the reasons media sources claim gardening is experiencing a surge in popularity. But as a garden center owner, I wonder, could it be more than that? Could it be something as simple as a longing to return to something easier to understand than today’s crazy world? Consider for a moment the frantic pace at which most of us live. Electronically, we are totally wired with everything from iPods to iPhones, Blackberries to laptops, Tweeting to Facebook. Does anyone even remember that a blackberry originally was something you eat, not a device on which you receive your e-mail? Maybe the […]

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May 7, 2009

Montgomery’s Los Angeles Retail Report

The weather in Southern California has been erratic and sales are slow with the exception of vegetables that are experiencing unprecedented growth. The weather Friday, May 1 was in the 50s in the morning and into the high 70s by the mid-afternoon hours–ideal weather for gardening. For a Friday, there was minimal traffic in all stores visited with the exception of Armstrong Garden Center in Claremont, Calif. Home Depot Home Depot has a different model in this market versus what I’ve observed in other parts of the country, using multiple vendors in each store compared to a single-source supply. In some stores, we counted up to three annual and three perennial vendors. This leads to lack of continuity and makes the job of managing the plan-o-grams difficult. Stores have a primary supplier for annuals and perennials with one or two backups. Lowe’s Lowe’s really excels in merchandising the outdoor aprons, […]

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May 6, 2009

Checking In With The Urban Gardener

Jennifer Kurtz, inventor of the Urban Gardener, shared a link to her product’s latest commercial, airing now through mid-June. Watch it here. You’ll get a kick out of the talking tomato. The Urban Gardener, of course, transforms patios and balconies into beautiful container gardens without taking much time or space. Learn more about it at UrbanGardener.net, and check it out on Facebook.

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May 5, 2009

Scullin: How Did Spring Play Out?

Sitting here mid-spring at the end of April, there are bits of good and bad news to report. First, spring has arrived, despite the naysayers. Birds are singing, lawns are greening and folks are in the garden centers. Despite the gloom and doom, the world did not end. Second, from many reports, people are shopping in both big box and independent garden centers. From a bedding plant perspective, items are moving at a good pace. Some regions of the United States are worse than others, but from all early indications, bedding plants are selling at or near last year’s pace in many markets. To quote from this past year’s Pack Trials: “Flat is the new up.” Depending on weather and region, I’m hearing slightly up or down 5 percent compared to last year. Third, on the expensive stuff, read “expensive” as shrubs, trees or anything with a retail price of […]

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May 4, 2009

Montgomery’s Denver Retail Report

It has been cold in Denver. On Saturday, it snowed but the temperatures were in the 70s Sunday with warming throughout the week forecasted. With the cold weather, the products currently on shelves looked remarkably good with some items like calla lilies being more adversely affected. Home Depot Home Depot had a good assortment of products. Clearly, it is prepared for the spring season to get into high gear. There were several geraniums SKUs that really looked good, including some 12-inch baskets of the new Calliope. In the perennials sector, all items are coming from out-of-state suppliers–one from Arizona and one from California. The Bonnie Plant Farms displays had been picked over, indicating consumers are preparing to plant more vegetables even with bad weather. Lowe’s Lowe’s has vastly improved its in-store merchandising with clean and well-organized displays. Additionally, all items were accurately priced. Overall, product quality was respectable, and Lowe’s […]

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