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 them if they’d ever shopped an independent garden center, nearly 91 percent said yes.
The next question asked if they felt like they experienced quality customer service during the visit. Ninety percent said yes. And when we asked if they had to choose between price and quality when they were shopping for plants, 57.5 percent said they shopped on quality. That seems to contradict some of the essay question answers we received, however, when we asked them about their general perception of independent retailers (see comments below).
Our last yes or no question focused on vegetable/herb gardening, asking if they were planning on doing any this year. More than half said yes.
In Their Own Words
We also asked them an essay question to tell us what might get them to buy plants, and to tell us their general perception of independent garden centers. Here is a sample of answers:
–”I admittedly tend to shop Lowe’s and the other big retailers for the products, because their prices are often lower, and/or they have a larger selection. But when I need advice, I tend to go to the local, family-owned places as I feel their knowledge is deeper.”
–”For the last several years I have been trying to shop more at local, independent retailers, or at least smaller chains, rather than the big box stores. I think it’s the direction that our country is going to have to move in–more emphasis on quality and integrity rather than massive quantity. One of the challenges is finding the good places to shop. Because of my husband’s job, we have to relocate every few years, so it just takes extra effort to seek these good vendors out.”
–”I’ll try out a local center … and then compare prices.”
–”Would absolutely prefer to buy at an independent garden center, however, those around here are too expensive for the most part.”
–”We see so many here in New England, and for the most part, they are very knowledgeable.”
–”Personal attention from an experienced and educated person. It’s much more cost effective and convenient to go to my local Lowe’s than an independent garden center, in my opinion.”
–”I love independent garden centers. Unique and different plants would make me more likely to shop at independent garden centers.”
–I like the plants grouped by sun exposure so that it’s easier for me to plan out my flower beds and gardens.”
–”There is more variety at independent garden centers, and although I shop for price, the plants are better cared for there, too. I feel there aren’t enough people working at the centers; therefore, they are too busy to really spend time helping the customers.”
–”First, we don’t like shopping at Wal-Mart, so that’s not even an issue. The independent garden centers grow much better flower plants … we like patronizing small businesses rather than chains. Hoping to buy ‘pretty’ flowering plants for outside, as well as a handful of veggies.”
–”I would probably visit one once I own a home and have to tend to the yard. I have neither a positive nor a negative perception of independent garden centers.”
–”I’m so clueless when it comes to gardening … I might be more apt to go to an independent one if they had some sort of intro to gardening class, though.”
–”Good quality, sturdy plants are what grabs my eye. Also, something ‘different’ when it comes to putting in annuals and perennials. Everyone has the standard begonias and impatiens, but not every place has something different. Often, though, the independents surprise and delight me with their mix of ‘something brilliantly different’ for my yard, and I’m quick to grab it!”
–”I just purchased my first home, and for the first time I am excited to get to my gardens. I hope to hit the independent garden centers to support local business.”
–”My general impression of independent garden centers: generally overpriced compared to Wal-Mart, short on staff. It’s unfortunate, I’d definitely go to an independent garden center if I knew I’d get good service–I don’t have much knowledge of gardening and I could use some help.”
–”I love pretty photos of plants, and good prices. People who know about the plants that grow in my region are also valuable. AND A GOOD WEBSITE.”