December 2, 2008

Garden Retailers Dish On Black Friday

Black Friday was a mixed bag for garden center retailers. Despite the uptick in sales many retailers saw throughout the country last Friday, garden retailers in some locations couldn’t make the same claim. Meanwhile, others saw heavy traffic Friday that dropped the rest of the weekend. “The traffic was normal for us, but the sales were down,” noted Sandi McDonald of Hillermann Nursery & Florist in Washington, Mo. “People were buying, but just not near as much as in the past. We have a more open set up in the store, and have had many great comments about it. Cut Christmas trees moved well, as well as fresh greenery.” Gali’s Garden Center in Beachwood, Ohio, saw sales jump about 20 percent versus the year before on Black Friday via an open house, but tree sales remained steady with the previous three years. “So what does that mean for the season?” asks […]

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December 2, 2008

Lowe’s Thinks Positively With Holiday Campaign

Rather than pitching a value message in a down economy, Lowe’s is trying to attract holiday consumers this year with its “Let’s Holiday” campaign that promotes the shopper experience in its stores. The Lowe’s ads show a boy following a magical trail of sparkles through a Lowe’s store. As the boy watches, coffee mugs transform into reindeer and outdoor plants become Christmas trees with each touch of the sparkles. The ad ends with a stack of gardening pots transforming into Christmas wreathes and the boy convincing his mother to buy one. To view the ad, click here.

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November 24, 2008

Adapting To Market Change by Stan Pohmer

After many years of sustained growth, the green industry appears to have hit a speed bump. Maybe it’s a function of the languid economy, or maybe it’s because our core customers, the boomer generation, are changing their buying habits based on lifestyle changes. Maybe it’s because we’re not capturing the minds, hearts and wallets of the emerging millennium customer. Some say it’s caused by the growth of the mass marketers, the big boxes and their impact on commoditizing our products, leading to a lowering of the perceived value of our products. Or possibly, it’s caused by something more fundamental that retailers and growers in our industry haven’t recognized or taken seriously. Something we’ve lost. Something called consumer relevance. There are some that say a national promotion campaign, with producers footing the bill under a USDA authorized mandatory promotion order, might be the panacea to solving our growth problems. In theory, […]

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November 19, 2008

Pork & Plants Appears In USA Today

Biomass boilers heat the greenhouses at Pork & Plants in Altura, Minn., and ash from the boilers fertilizes fields. It’s one way the operation farms sustainably, and USA Today told its sustainability story from Eric Kreidermacher’s perspective in an article published late last month. “Kreidermacher is part of a growing trend,” USA Today Reporter Judy Keen wrote. “More old-school farmers are using techniques that protect natural resources instead of damaging them with chemicals, erosion and animal waste.” In addition to its biomass boilers, Pork & Plants has watering systems designed for conservation, a soil mix that includes coconut fiber and rice hulls instead of peat moss and plants grown and solid in biodegradable pots. Theirs is the kind of story we’ve been telling over the couple of years, and it’s refreshing to see that story appear in a publication with the national reach and broad audience of USA Today. To […]

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November 19, 2008

PBS Featuring Metrolina On Ag Show This Week

“America’s Heartland,” a 30-minute PBS show on agriculture in the United States, is featuring Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, N.C., in this week’s episode. Reporter Hena Cuevas visited with Abe Van Wingerden, president of Metrolina, who explained the importance of automation in the greenhouse in a six-minute segment. The show is airing at various times around the country this week, Van Wingerden says, but you can view video of the Metrolina segment here. More information about this particular segment and the episode as a whole can be found at http://www.americasheartland.org/episodes/episode_404/index.htm. The publicity for Metrolina is fantastic, and the video shows viewers how technologically sound our industry has become. As Cuevas notes in it, “Chances are if you’ve ever planted a garden, you’ve purchased one of [Metrolina’s] products.”

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November 18, 2008

Bring On More Branding by Mark Broxon

It was only seven or eight years ago that the topic of branding began to appear with frequency in Greenhouse Grower and other industry publications. Many began to consider what branding meant, and what their role in it should be. Proven Winners is proud to be credited with bringing branding to horticulture. We firmly believe in both the concept and its future. Some have considered branding to be simply developing a name or logo under which to sell plants. But creating a brand that is profitable to growers and retailers and provides real value to consumers is not easy. Instead, it is an ongoing and exciting process that, through research, innovation, and better plants, truly never ends. And here’s why: The real job of true plant marketers is much more than just “branding” plants. The real job is the long-term process of creating and building value for growers, retailers and […]

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November 11, 2008

Readying For Next Gen by Al Gerace

A look to the future must start with where we are today and what got us here. Looking at our own firm, Welby Gardens, we’ve had about an eight-fold increase in total revenue over the past 25 years and a five-fold increase in physical plant. What were the major factors behind this growth, and will those trends sustain continued growth? In the mid-1960s Welby Gardens staked out an independent regional marketing course, partnering with independent garden centers and innovative commercial and estate landscapers under the Hardy Boy brand. Welby established a dynamic system of introducing and recognizing new trends at the frontline of active retail and at the cutting edge of both lifestyle landscape and plants that really work at 55 miles an hour. The challenge for the ongoing future is not the “what” or “with whom,” but the “how do we” present our products to capture the imagination of […]

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October 20, 2008

Winner 15,001-25,000 Category – Stuart, Florida: Coastal Cleanliness

The judges recognized Stuart for environmental awareness. The city instituted a watershed planning and improvement program to improve the overall quality of the St. Lucie River and its associated lands. Recharge basins and ponds were created, thereby increasing fresh water aquifers, natural areas were claimed, dumps were removed and noxious weeds were eliminated. Creek trails were subsequently developed, and the entire plan identified and preserved wildlife corridors and improved storm water quality and environmental conditions.   Arroyo Grande, California: In just a short time, Arroyo Grande has harnessed a multitude of citizens to the common goals of making its community better. The judges say the Village Improvement Association has pulled the community together, and its success is obvious to all who live there.   Artesia, California: The judges recognized Artesia particularly for its landscaped areas. The need to upgrade the Pioneer Boulevard business corridor was evident, and residents and the […]

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October 20, 2008

Winner 10,001-15,000 Category – Greendale, Wisconsin: Like Old Times

The streets, plants, homes and form of government of Greendale are exactly as they were orginally designed in 1938. This is only possible through the responsible direction of the administration and residents. The village leadership was instrumental in obtaining the Greendale Original Historical Preservation District Designation. And the municipality has a Historic Preservation Code to protect the historical integrity of the village. Participants in the 10,001-15,000 category:   Bemidji, Minnesota: The judges recognized Bemidji for its community involvement. The winters there can be downright nasty, but the springs are refreshing and the summers are adventurous.   Bexley, Ohio: Outstanding landscapes throughout the city sets Bexley apart. It’s hard to focus on the road when driving through the Central Ohio community. The surrounding landscape is breathtaking and just as exciting to see as the sprawling estates.   Ironton, Ohio: The city is blooming again. Ironton, in harmony with the municipal leadership, […]

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October 20, 2008

Planting Pride

The seventh America In Bloom (AIB) symposium and awards gala had a homecoming feel with the big event hosted by OFA in Columbus, Ohio. OFA–An Association of Floriculture Professionals, provides the home and staffing for the nonprofit organization. AIB is a national campaign and contest that promotes enhancing and revitalizing communities. In the friendly competition, communities are matched by population and evaluated on their efforts related to eight criteria: floral displays, urban forestry, landscaped areas, turf and groundcover, tidiness, environmental awareness and heritage.  The symposium, Oct. 2-4, kicked off with a pep-rally inspired reception, where all attendees were encouraged to show their community spirit. That night, special criteria awards were presented to eight communities representing the “best of the best” in America In Bloom’s judging criteria. Look inside to see which communities won these coveted awards on page 7. The next two days were packed with educational seminars, networking opportunities […]

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October 20, 2008

Winner Under 5,000 – Greendale, Indiana: Preserving History

Greendale, an Indiana community that won in its population category, has preserved its old firehouse and turned it into a state-of-the-art police station. Both the police station and new firehouse have preserved many old photos that have been enlarged and placed on walls for public display. Under municipal leadership, the community is working together to save the old, prehistoric fort on the Glenn property rather than allowing it to fall victim to a housing development.  A proposed state park would preserve the history and provide educational, recreational and economic opportunities for the area.  Preserving the top of this bluff is a sound decision for the environment because it is so close to several rivers. Participants in the under 5,000 category:   Aurora, Indiana:  Community involvement in Aurora stands out. The community is very active, scheduling numerous events for locals and visitors.  Aurora has an active Main Street organization that plans […]

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October 20, 2008

Winner 5,001-10,000 Category – North Manchester, Indiana: A Natural Beauty

The judges recognized North Manchester for its heritage preservation. Few towns of this size can boast a 29,000-square-foot museum with more than 16,000 artifacts. The Historical Society uses state-of-the-art techniques to document and preserve this town’s rich heritage. Displays and vignettes have been created by volunteers and feature excellent interpretation. Participants in the 5,000-10,000 category: Incline Village, Nevada: Community involvement is one of Incline Village’s special and notable strengths. The Parasol Foundation provides a framework for cooperation and collaboration among service groups and social services agencies. This population category was judged by Evelyn Alemanni and Mary Ann Fink.

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