One Mid-Atlantic grower wrote us last week after reading Jason Parks’ Perspective Q&A focused on the regressing independent garden center retail channel. The grower asked that her comments in response to Parks’ insights remain anonymous, but she agrees the box store channel is winning and independents need to step up their businesses if they’re to survive.
"I just finished reading the article "A Grower’s Advice for IGCs.” Even though the grower (Jason Parks, Parks Brothers Farm) is from the South and we are from the North, he hit the nail on the head: There are some good and some bad IGCs, just as there are good and bad growers. The thing that people just do not seem to realize is there is a large disconnect between growers and IGCs.
"Ask an IGC in the fall what they are looking for for spring and you get a blank stare. Or if there is an answer and you provide it come spring, you can hear the crickets chirp for the product they wanted but are not taking.
"We have found there is no planning on a lot of the IGCs’ parts. They don’t want to have any inventory of plants carried over from week to week; just enough to get them through and as close to the weekend as possible. They do not want to take care of the material or put any effort in their own stores – then they whine about the box stores taking their business!
"Well, wake up! The box stores are open early and late when people are buying. They’re there for the impulse buying because they have material all the time – not just on the weekend. They have material after Memorial Day! No wonder the box stores are winning.
"This industry needs to start educating the general public better. Most of them do not know how to garden anymore. We need to teach them. In the past, the IGCs were better at that than the box stores, but I am not sure of that anymore."