Garden Retail 2012: Observations In Baltimore

The weather was perfect for shopping and gardening in Baltimore on May 12 and 13, 2012, with temperatures in the 60s during the mornings and hitting in the low 80s by afternoon with very low humidity. Shoppers were out in full force and the store traffic was really heavy. Finally, after several cold, wet weekends, the Baltimore market has opened and what timing: Mother’s Day weekend.

Home Depot

These garden centers are clearly some of the best, if not the best, in the country for Home Depot. There are few competitive stores in the same league. Here is what we observed that makes these stores so outstanding.

The number-one reason is the quality of people in this vendor’s merchandising team. I have never seen merchandisers that are seemingly as consumed by their jobs and who work so hard to keep the displays organized, watered and very shoppable

We had the occasion to talk to a number of the merchandisers and were really impressed with the professionalism of the regional and district managers. They are some of the best and brightest and are committed to make Home Depot a destination consumers will return to. They are all good leaders and they lead by example and are so supportive of their people while still making them very accountable. There were so many people in the field over the weekend for the Home Depot vendor Bell Nursery we were able to talk to many of them and get some great insights about how they operate

The elements that separate this merchandising group from the competition are:
• They know the importance of the end caps. Consequently, the merchandisers make the best use of them of anyone in the country.
• The merchandisers, as well as the mangers, are very engaged with the Home Depot store personnel from the Store Manger to the hourly people in the garden center.
• The merchandisers know how to display color. You always see the higher volume items like the 6-inch basics ($3.33) displayed in a striped format that gives the tables a far more compelling look.
• You rarely see anybody watering during high-traffic periods. There is no more of a turn-off to a consumer than having to push a shopping cart over a hose.
• I would venture to say that 95 to 98 percent of the price signs are accurate and in place – again probably the highest in the country.
• The merchandisers really interact well with the consumer. We noticed a number of instances when the merchandisers advised consumers and they walked away very happy.
• The outside aprons are like billboards and if they are not well merchandised, sales velocity will be impeded. At the Baltimore Home Depots the aprons are high impact, clean and well signed. Really impressive.
• Of all the areas we visited in the past, there are no cleaner stores than these in the Baltimore market.
• Home Depot in this market has really outstanding outside corrals that are clean, neat and well organized, including the best use of carts for merchandising that actually are shoppable, unlike many retailers.
• On product side the vendor ships more colorful annuals and perennials than the competition. We observed more colorful annual displays than normally seen in the independent garden centers.
• Some of the SKUs that really caught my attention relative to displaying WOW color included: New Guinea impatiens, especially the 11-inch baskets; without a doubt the best 4.5-inch and 6-inch geraniums I have seen anywhere in the country; the best 6-inch annuals you can find anywhere; and the quart premium annual Vigoro SKU is loaded with more colorful premium items than others.
• Another crucial area that was very noticeable at Home Depot were the number of trucks replenishing the inventory on Sunday after a seemingly monster day on Saturday. That same degree of replenishment was not noticeable at other garden centers. The Home Depot stores always seemed to have full shelves throughout this important weekend

Metrolina Greenhouses is known as the top Lowe’s supplier, but when I compared stores in this market Home Depot is clearly the market leader in the Baltimore market.

I was a little surprised Home Depot did not have any alternative vegetable programs as all the goods were 100-percent Bonnie Plants. That is a terrific program, but the consumer has no alternative like a generic offering. Depot could do well with 1-gallon vegetables in the $4.00 price range just positioned as another consumer choice. Couple that with 3-inch or 4-inch vegetables and herbs in the $1.25 to $1.50 range and you have a great generic alternative to the branded product that sells a 4-inch for $2.98 and 1-gallon for $5.98.

There is also a huge opportunity in a vegetable line positioned for patio gardening. According to the National Gardening Association, more than 50% of the consumers who vegetable garden participate in patio gardening. There are some great varieties bred especially for this market.

Lowe’s

Metrolina Greenhouses ship really good product but their merchandising is outsourced to a third party by Lowe’s so their stores a have no similarity to what we observed in Charlotte and other areas of the south. The aprons are dull, drab and unimpressive. The end caps at Lowe’s, particularly inside the garden center have so little impact compared to Home Depot.

One of the things that looks very interesting is the patio vegetable program developed by Metrolina to give the consumer another choice. It seems to be moving well, especially the program they call “The Color Of The Pot Tells How Hot” a 12-inch patio pepper plant in four different colored pots indicating the level of heat.

Overall these stores are not in the same league as Home Depot – just another validation of how world-class merchandising creates a very sustainable competitive advantage.

Walmart

We saw a huge selection of sizes and price points, almost to the point of confusion for the consumer. This was not nearly as impressive as other areas we visited this spring.

Costco

Costco had a small number of outdoor garden items, but for the most part they featured more shrubs and roses with the best price on 3-gallon Knock Out this season, retailing at $13.99. They displayed the item in a paper sleeve to make it easier for the consumer to handle the thorny rose bush.

It seemed as though the annual SKUs were really good upon arrival but many had been in the store far too long. Consequently there was some deterioration in flowers and foliage.

Some highlights included:
• 14-inch patio combo $29.99
• 12-inch coco fiber hanging basket $16.00
• 10-inch Sun Parasol trellis $24.99
• 8-pack 4.5-inch geraniums $19.99
• 3-gallon Knock Out $13.99
• 6-inch orchid ceramic container $19.99

In the cut flower category, no one has the value Costco provides with huge numbers of bouquets in shopping carts dwarfing anything they did in outdoor garden. They had a featured arrangement for Mother’s Day in a glass container for $49.99 – a terrific value.

Sam’s Club

They seem to be far more aggressive in this area. Three of the four stores visited had large outdoor displays in the parking lots using wood pallets for tables. The initial quality seemed fairly good but some of the material was going downhill, especially things like hydrangeas that require a lot of irrigation. The other issue was there were limited choices, with most items offering one or two versions.

Highlights included:
• 14-inch square patio pot $20.98
• 12-inch patio combo $13.98
• 12-inch square hanging basket $17.98
• premium 10-inch hanging basket $8.98
• Flat of 6 606 packs $7.98
• 3-gallon Knock Out $16.98

Summary

In the Baltimore market, Home Depot clearly dominates with garden centers that have great merchandise and unmatched merchandising. The real story here is that Bell committed to doing things right by recruiting and investing in high-performance, passionate people that are driven to do whatever it takes to satisfy Home Depot and the consumer. In my view this is one of the best partnerships in the industry.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

More From State of the Industry...
Feature image The 2015 Perennial Plant Of The Year, Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo.’

August 27, 2015

The Perennial Plant Association’s Regional Symposium Will Be This October In Dallas

The Perennial Plant Association plans to hold its Regional Symposium October 5 in Dallas, Texas, in conjunction with the All-America Selections/Home Garden Seed Association's Summer/Fall Summit held October 5 to 8.

Read More
september_grow_rodale institute

August 25, 2015

Hospitals Are Getting Into The Organic Food Business

Growers investing in the organic food movement could serve a growing new area with vegetable transplants and starts, as well as produce, as hospitals begin to prescribe healthy diets and nutrition, and even go so far as to grow their own food. As part of a new phenomenon among progressive hospitals, health professionals are beginning to realize that without health and nutrition, programs and techniques may be done in vain or worse — obsolete. As more patients seeking a healthy diet turn to nutritionists, who recommend sugar-free, alkaline diets to prevent disease and aid in recovery, hospitals recognizing this trend are taking action. St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa., recently contracted with the nearby Rodale Institute to manage an organic farm, established in 2014. The hospital, part of a six-campus network, aims to provide excellent healthcare, part of which includes educating patients about the benefits of a plant-based, organic diet. […]

Read More

August 21, 2015

Proven Winners Announces Roadshow Events For 2015

Proven Winner's Roadshow Events, held across North America, provide growers and retailers with the opportunity to learn how to grow Proven Winner's newest varieties and receive information about industry trends.

Read More
Latest Stories
Christina Salwitz 2014_featured

August 12, 2015

Christina Salwitz Says Women Bring A Unique Perspective…

Garden writer Christina Salwitz is a powerhouse in the industry. She is an expert container designer, works at an independent garden center and runs her own blog. Salwitz is active on social media, and she fights for the industry’s ability to stay autonomous from the big box stores. Most importantly, Salwitz stands out in a field of garden industry people as a design and color specialist who can bring something brilliant and unique to the end consumer. Her garden design business, established in 1998, started with landscaping, then evolved into container design because of increased demand for her unique and color-filled designs. Salwitz continues to work at an independent garden center in order to connect directly with the consumer. She also evolved and expanded her business by blogging, authoring books such as “Fine Foliage” with co-author Karen Chapman, and concentrating on horticultural photography. Demand grew for her work, and by March 2014 her designs were […]

Read More
cannabis

August 7, 2015

Cannabis Producer Solstice Provides Insight To Greenhou…

To gain some real-world insight about what it takes to produce and sell cannabis, and some of the challenges and roadblocks involved, Greenhouse Grower reached out to Solstice, a producer and processor of cannabis for medical and adult use in Washington state. Alex Cooley, the co-founder and vice president of Solstice, gave us an exclusive interview, and answered the following questions to give greenhouse growers a glimpse into different aspects involved in cannabis production. Visit the Solstice website or follow Solstice on Twitter @SolsticeGrown for more information. Greenhouse Grower (GG): First, let’s get to know you. Could you tell us some background about Solstice and how it got started? Alex Cooley: We started Solstice in 2011 to help legitimize the medical cannabis marketplace by providing consistent, lab-tested cannabis of high quality and creating the state’s first cultivation brand. It was started by myself and two other partners, Will Denman and […]

Read More

July 29, 2015

2015 Spring Crops Report: Rain Soaks Spring Sales

Rain, rain and more rain. That was the story this spring for the large majority of growers across the U.S. And where it wasn’t too wet, it was too dry. Drought conditions cut sales in the West and Southwest. But it wasn’t all bad. Eighty-nine percent of respondents to Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Crops Survey declared the season a success, despite its challenges. They said beautiful weather in April and excited consumers who were ready to spend got the season going early, but then cool temps and rainy weekends throughout May and June caused confusion over when and how much to plant. Of the 189 respondents to Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Recap Survey, 53 percent identified themselves as grower-retailers, 34 percent were wholesale growers and 13 percent said they were young plant growers. Most responses came from the Midwest (27 percent), Northeast (18 percent) and Southeast (16 percent), but also […]

Read More

July 17, 2015

Young Plant Survey: Do You Grow Plugs And Liners?

If your operation produces plugs or liners for wholesale growers, please take a few minutes to participate in Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Young Plant Grower Survey. We know you are very busy and we value your time and input. This survey should only take a few minutes. Greenhouse Grower’s Young Plant Grower Survey has played a key role in building our Top 20 Young Plant Growers list over the years. The information helps us zero in on trends taking shape and the challenges you’re facing as young plant growers. If you have any questions about this survey or you are not the right contact for this at your operation, please email me at ldrotleff@meistermedia.com, or please forward the survey link to the appropriate person. We would like to wrap up this survey by July 24, so please take it soon! Thank you in advance for your participation. We value your opinion! » […]

Read More

July 15, 2015

Cultivate’15 Town Hall Meeting: Not Your Grandma&…

Young and innovative industry minds threw down ideas about future of gardening in the new millennium at the Cultivate’15 Town Hall Meeting. Traditionally one of the most innovative, captivating, controversial, edge-of-your-seat, interesting discussions at the whole show, this year’s Town Hall Meeting was no exception. The set up for this discussion addressed the radical change within the world of horticulture over the past decade, due to economics, demographics, technology, retail competition and the redefinition of gardening. The premise: Change cannot be ignored, and our old strategies won’t win us the game anymore. This session acted as a “callback” to the drawing board to determine what gardening actually means to consumers, how the horticulture industry needs to respond to meet the demands of the new millennium and the consequences that may result if we don’t. The esteemed panel included some of the brightest young and innovative minds in horticulture: Brienne Arthur of […]

Read More
BeeSmart logo

July 7, 2015

Grow Wise, Bee Smart Website Launches As Industry Resou…

The new Grow Wise, Bee Smart website, growwise.org,  was recently launched as a key component of the horticulture industry’s Bee and Pollinator Stewardship Initiative, which was created to provide leadership and guidance to the industry on pollinator health. The site serves as the communications hub for the latest research and developments related to the role horticulture plays in supporting pollinator health. Grow Wise, Bee Smart currently features information on the importance of bees and pollinators, threats to their health and steps everyone can take to improve habitat and forage. Links to the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge and Pollinator Partnership further guide retail and landscape firms and their customers on how to plant and register new gardens and habitats for pollinators. As the Grow Wise, Bee Smart stewardship program for plant production is launched, and as funded and directed research yields results and guidance, the site will feature timely new information and insights. Progress […]

Read More

June 30, 2015

Opportunities Abound For Women In Horticulture, Says Do…

My love for horticulture goes back to my grandparents who were farmers in upstate New York. My family’s involvement in agriculture left a lasting impression that has spanned decades, and still drives my passion for our industry today. I started my career in horticulture when I owned a greenhouse, nursery and garden center in Sayville, Long Island, N.Y. We specialized in ground cover production, later branching out to producing perennials and bedding plants.     I then went onto wholesale hard goods distribution. In the 1980s, I was the first woman salesperson on Long Island. What an eye opener that was! New York is a very special place, different from anywhere else in the country. You cannot imagine how difficult it was walking into greenhouses and nurseries as a woman, in a man’s world. Luckily, I grew up in New York City in an Italian family, who taught me great […]

Read More

June 10, 2015

Women In Horticulture Should Celebrate Their Difference…

Maria Costa-Smith, executive vice president at Costa Farms in Miami, Fla., says she believes in equal treatment for equal work. She encourages women in horticulture to work hard, be team players, perform beyond expectations and add value to their organizations. Fulfilling Her Dreams Maria Costa-Smith grew up in the horticulture industry, and never doubted that she wanted a career in ornamental horticulture. Part of a family with a history steeped in agriculture, her grandfather, Jose Costa, was a farmer in Cuba, who sent her father, Tony Costa, to the University of Florida just before the Cuban Revolution to study agriculture. When the family uprooted in 1961 and fled to the U.S., they began growing tomatoes and citrus on a 30-acre plot of land in Miami, and soon after expanded into ornamentals. Thus, Costa Farms was established. Working on the farm with her father and grandfather, Costa-Smith says she was always […]

Read More
Pollinator-Conference-NC State

June 10, 2015

Experts Convene to Discuss How to Protect Bees, Other P…

A new conference organized by North Carolina State University (NC State) and Michigan State University (MSU) will focus on the need for bee-friendly ornamental landscapes and practical solutions for protecting bees and other pollinators. This autumn, researchers, educators and industry experts from around the country will descend on a small town in rural North Carolina to discuss a question with repercussions for both the economy and the environment: what can be done to protect bees and other pollinators? The conference is focused specifically on what can be done to not only conserve but also bolster pollinator populations in so-called ornamental landscapes, such as urban areas and manicured gardens. It is the brain child of two entomologists – Steve Frank of NC State and David Smitley of MSU. With pollinator declines in the news, public demand for bee-friendly ornamental plants is high, but much of the available research has addressed pesticides and […]

Read More
Terri McEnaney Bailey Nurseries headshot_featured

June 3, 2015

Bailey Nurseries’ Terri McEnaney Recognized By Mi…

Bailey Nurseries President Terri McEnaney was recently honored by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal in their Women in Business 2015 special issue. Those honored were chosen for the impact they have had on the business community in Minnesotoa, as well as their dedication to serving their community. McEnaney was honored for her leadership in growing the company significantly in terms of revenue, staff, global reach and brand development, as well as her strategic acumen and industry insight. Other honorees included executives from U.S. Bancorp, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Gilette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, the American Cancer Society, Cargill, 3M and Wells Fargo. “I am humbled to receive this honor from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal,” McEnaney says. “To be among this group of esteemed women is exciting. Seeing successful female leaders in other male-driven industries pushes me to continue working and encouraging women in horticulture to grow their passion into a long-term, fruitful career.” […]

Read More

June 3, 2015

Take Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Recap Survey

Please take a few minutes to answer Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Recap Survey. Your input will help us get a firmer grasp on how spring played out for growers and what we can expect in Spring 2015.

Read More
Bee on a Sedum

June 3, 2015

The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Launches With U…

The National Pollinator Garden Network (NPGN) launched the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge on June 3, just in time for National Pollinator Week, held June 21-25. The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge is a strategic effort to promote and protect the needs of pollinators in North America. Representatives of the recently formed Network joined First Lady Michelle Obama on June 3 for an event that’s part of her “Let’s Move” Initiative at the White House, to formally launch the Challenge. The launch of the Challenge is an unprecedented collaboration by dozens of conservation and gardening organizations, including green industry associations like AmericanHort, America in Bloom, Society of American Florists, American Floral Endowment, the National Garden Bureau and the American Horticultural Society. The organizations joined together to form the National Pollinator Garden Network and launch the new nationwide campaign – the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. Designed to accelerate growing efforts across America, the Network is launching the […]

Read More
Status of Marijuana US Map May 2015

May 29, 2015

Marijuana Legalization Updates

As of April 2015, 23 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some capacity. At the federal level, several bills are currently awaiting action. Here is an update on current state and federal marijuana legislation across the U.S.

Read More
cannabis, marijuana plant

May 29, 2015

Making The Decision To Produce Medical Marijuana

Should horticultural growers consider cultivating medical marijuana? That’s up to the individual grower, of course, and certainly a number of growers already have jumped in. We at Meister Media Worldwide, publishers of Greenhouse Grower and American Vegetable Grower, do not necessarily endorse nor oppose the production of medical marijuana. But we do feel it is an option worth exploring. We intend our “Medical Marijuana” series of articles to give you information you need to make your own call. We hope you find it useful, and we do welcome your comments, thoughts and ideas as we continue to cover what we’re fairly certain is only going to be an increasingly viable and growing market for this emerging crop.

Read More
water

May 27, 2015

California Growers To Voluntarily Cut Back Water Use

Farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have agreed to reduce their water use by 25 percent in exchange for assurance that they will not face further curtailment during the June-September growing season. The proposal was approved by the State Water Resources Control Board on Friday, May 22. “This proposal helps Delta growers manage the risk of potentially deeper curtailment, while ensuring significant water conservation efforts in this fourth year of drought,” State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus says. “It allows participating growers to share in the sacrifice that people throughout the state are facing because of the severe drought, while protecting their economic well-being by giving them some certainty regarding exercise of the State Water Board’s enforcement discretion at the beginning of the planting season.” Growers who participate in the program could opt to either reduce water diversions under their riparian rights by 25 percent, or fallow 25 percent of their land. In both cases, the […]

Read More
Farwest2015

May 20, 2015

2015 Farwest Show Announces Second Annual Equipment Inn…

The second annual Equipment Innovation Day will be Tuesday, Aug. 25, prior to the 2015 Farwest show, which will be August 27-29 in Portland, Ore. Equipment Innovation Day, which was enthusiastically received in 2014, offers a real-time opportunity to see new heavy and automated nursery equipment in action. The demonstrations take place in manufacturing and nursery settings, adding value to the showcase. Attendees will be able to talk with participating manufacturers and learn first-hand from innovative growers who use the equipment in daily operations. The day-long event will be held at the main manufacturing plant of GK Machines, Inc., Donald, Ore. Further demonstrations of field equipment will take place at the nearby nursery of A&R Spada Farms, LLC. Bus travel to and from the event is planned, starting at and returning to the Oregon Convention Center. Attendees are welcome to provide their own travel to and from the site. Preregistration is required. The cost […]

Read More
CCGGA-Scholarship-Winners

May 20, 2015

Central Coast Greenhouse Growers Association Awards 201…

The Central Coast Greenhouse Growers Association (CCGGA) is awarding 20 scholarships this year to high school and college students. CCGGA-member nurseries raised money for the scholarship fund and each donated a portion of the fundraising sales to the fund, which is open to students currently enrolled in college for the following year. The scholarship program is also available to students of employees who work at CCGGA-member nurseries One of the organization’s goals is to continue encouraging future generations to enter the horticulture field and to promote higher education within the families that work in the local nursery business. The 2015 CCGGA scholarship recipients are: Aloysia Shea – Nipomo High School Andrew McHaney – CSalinas High School Angel Flores – Righetti High School Beatriz Barajas – San Jose State University Carolanne Garibay – Monterey Peninsula College Cladia Lavina – Salinas High School Erica Marquez-Ibarra – San Jose State University Jorge Zarate […]

Read More

May 18, 2015

Download Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Top 100 Growers…

Greenhouse Grower‘s Top 100 Growers Survey revealed that our projections in the 2015 State Of The Industry report were correct: Growers, at least the large ones, are expanding. Greenhouse Grower’s annual Top 100 List ranks the largest U.S. growers by total square feet of environmentally controlled greenhouse space, although this year, we have also listed shade and field acreage, to give perspective on how large these operations are beyond the greenhouse. In total, the 2015 list represents 228,906,001 environmentally controlled square feet of U.S. production, a 5 percent increase over 2014. All told, 26 growers reported that their operation grew between 2014 and 2015. Several growers reduced their production over the past year, as well, and while some operations’ downsized numbers were significant, most were slight and probably typical of the give-and-take in the horticulture industry. Greenhouse Grower‘s 2015 Top 100 Growers Whitepaper includes all the results of the survey, […]

Read More