Time For IGCs To Step It Up

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.

Her comments:

"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."

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3 comments on “Time For IGCs To Step It Up

  1. Anonymous

    She nailed it spot on…. I could not have said it any better. The IGCs want the wholesalers to carry the weight and pull them through at the very last second when they don’t have material because THEY DID NOT PLAN AHEAD.

  2. Anonymous

    Regarding the comments from the Mid-Atlantic grower: I am in general agreement with her perspective on many IGCs needing to step up their games substantially to avoid losing the last 25% of market share to the big boxes. However, her last comment regarding teaching the general public how to garden is representative of the same blind spot shared by IGCs and many growers: Most of the general public, as shown by our industry’s own surveys, does not want to learn how to garden, they want us to provide plants for them in a fashion that allows them to enjoy them in their landscape and on their patios and decks without having to become gardeners. Successful retailers will capitalize on this in their products, marketing and merchandising; successful growers will find ways to provide these products. Focusing efforts on a small and declining share of the market is an exercise in futility that will end in failure, the handful of true gardeners will find and enjoy the product we provide, mostly regardless of where and how it is presented to them. New market growth exists with non gardeners that want nice live outdoor decoration.

  3. Anonymous

    What we are facing is bothabove comments are equally a problem. I think the bigger problem is that the large growers don’t want to be bothered with the assortment needed for the large igcs secondly if a grower does grow the assortment the igc does not want to commit to the product so the risk is on the growe, thirdly the igc is loosing the foot traffic to the box stoes , because we live in the half hour society and the new generation wants it now and instant success and beauty. I agree we as an igc have to change but with the economy and the instant society we are in a tough market, competing for the very samll descrectionary dollars. hope we can survive