Garden Retail 2012: Observations In Charlotte, N.C.

The Flip-It tomato

The weather on Saturday, April 28, 2012, was overcast and in the low 60s (farenheit). This obviously impacted the shopper turnout, which was extremely low and very disappointing. However, on Sunday the 29th the sun came out and the temperatures zoomed into the low 80s by afternoon; stores were filled with shoppers.


In Charlotte you will find some of the best Lowe’s garden centers in the country. This quality is driven by a combination of a very relevant assortment of products, crack merchandising and very consistent product quality with a lot of color, or as I prefer to say, “The WOW Factor.”  One often neglected part of merchandising is customer interaction, but in the Charlotte store it appears to be SOP. Merchandisers constantly assist consumers by answering their questions and making a lot of suggestions. This obviously leads towards both higher sales and customer satisfaction.

On the product side, Metrolina Greenhouses always seems to have a few new and innovative items each year. Some of the interesting merchandise this year was:

  • Flip-IT hanging bucket tomato. Consisting of a bucket with a handle, the tomato is planted in the bottom and can be attached to any hanging device by the handle
  • 2-gallon vase planter in a deep burgundy color — a very classy look at retail
  • 1.5-gallon wall planter
  • 8-gallon patio pot retailing for $49.98. It looks like a value and is usually displayed by the front entrance of each garden center
  • 3-quart planter called Sunken Treasures in an unusual shape that attracts a lot of attention
  • And my favorite — a pepper program in a 12” color pot with a cage, below a banner that says, “The Color of the Pot Tells You How Hot.”  There are four colors indicating the various degrees of heat: green for mild, yellow for medium, orange for hot, red for very hot.

Lowe’s offered a nice array of patio pots in price points from $6.98 for a 3-quart Color Pot to $49.98 for the huge 8-gallon. The patio containers were very colorful, and the recipes they used bloomed consistently.

Home Depot

Home Depot carries a larger inventory of woody items that seems larger than the other national retailers. It also has a much larger offering of roses, especially the Knock Out brand. In the annual category Home Depot continues to focus on the premium items in the Viva, Proven Winners and Vigoro lines. Basic annuals were a big category with the 606 on sale at 4 for $5, and large quantities of 4.5 “and T-18 trays were evident in each store. It appears that the Viva Big Red Geranium (Calliope) is doing well with good inventories in every store we visited.

A standout program was the perennials supplied by Stacy’s Greenhouses, which was highlighted by great packaging that includes large, informative labels. Stacy’s arguably displays a higher percentage of perennials in flower at the point of purchase than most perennial producers. Clearly Stacy’s knows that color sells.  When you couple this with really good merchandising, it results in a first-class program. They make good use of colored containers, especially in the 8” and 10” sizes.


We visited really great stores with a nice assortment of products all in good color.  We especially noted that the stores are well merchandised with well-organized and creative displays. Between the Atlanta stores and the Charlotte stores, Metrolina Greenhouses clearly is a first-class vendor.  Somehow, they get things accomplished in each store that others struggle with. Whatever they do, it results in putting good, consistent products on the shelves in stores with well-merchandised displays. It appeared that they had much higher customer traffic than any area I have visited.

Some of the best patio pots were in the Walmart stores. A 14” container retailing for $29.95 was one of the most colorful combos we have seen this season. The two recipes that really stood out were Fire & Ice and Hot pink Jazz.  Another item that really looked outstanding was the Calliope geranium in a 12” patio pot retailing for $14.98 — a great value.

The Better Homes & Gardens program was well executed, although you wonder about the recipes consisting mostly of yellows and orchid shades. The packaging and POS materials seemed to all blend together to create a separate identity for the program.

Pike Nursery

As in Atlanta, their Charlotte store is very well organized and has been nicely upgraded since Armstrong Gardens took over. They are real plant people specializing in green goods, not hard goods. Pike does not have huge stacks of bagged goods but focuses on selling plants with a highly trained and knowledgeable staff.

They seem to be more focused on the whole outdoor garden, not just bedding plants and perennials.  They have a large space devoted to trees and shrubs but do have a nice assortment of annuals. Pike has large displays of Monrovia-branded products including a lot of Monrovia perennials. All in all, this store was a first-class, well-managed independent garden center.


Costco seems more focused on large evergreens and roses than annuals, but they did have an assortment of patio pots and potted annuals:

  • 3-gallon Knock Out — $12.99
  • 12” baskets — $15.99
  • 12” patio pot — $15.99
  • 8-pack 5.5”annuals — 11.99
  • 10-pack 4.5” annuals — 19.99
  • 12” hydrangea — $19.99 (With 10-12 flowers, this was a great value.)
  • 2-gallon calla lilies — $15.99

Sam’s Club

One store had built an outdoor corral in the parking lot with a lot of merchandise on display:

  • T-18 annuals — $10.95
  • 12” caged tomato — $9.98
  • 10” premium hanging basket — $8.98
  • 10” hanging fern basket — $9.98
  • 3-gallon peppers, staked — $12.98
  • 1-gallon Mandavilla ‘Sun Parasol’  — $7.98
  • 10” Mandavilla ‘Sun Parasol’ trellis — $18.88
  • 10”-square patio gerbera — $12.98
Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Garden Retail 2012: Observations In Charlotte, N.C.

  1. Are the places you list really garden centers or just places that sell garden supplies and plants. Do we see the owners on the shop floor. Who grows the plants? How is the customer service? How many garden center events do they hold? How does listing the prices tell me anything about how the retail ceters operate as a business? What about the many other independent garden centers in the area

  2. You are correct – this is not an all-inclusive look at everything about these businesses. It is meant to be a snapshot of some of the bigger stores and the programs they are offering, as well as to give an idea of pricing in those stores. It's just a piece of the puzzle. You are correct, customer service, events and the knowledge of employees etc. are all important; this article was not intended to delve into all of that.

More From State of the Industry...

April 20, 2015

Three Michigan State University On-Demand Webinars Offer Effective Strategies For Insect And Disease Control On Vegetables

The first rule of effective insect and disease control for vegetables is to take action to prevent problems before they occur. But in order to do that, you need to have an effective pest and disease management strategy in place that incorporates best practices to ensure a successful outcome. Michigan State University offers three pest and disease management on-demand webinars that will get you started and keep you on the right track.

Read More
Celosia dragon's breath_Sakata

April 20, 2015

Sakata’s Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ Steals The Show In Salinas

Since January, when I first saw celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ in the landscape at Costa Farms’ Season Premier, I knew it looked like a great plant that would garner some serious attention. And sure enough, up and down the trials road, people were talking about Sakata’s hot new introduction. Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ is a seed-propagated, plume-type celosia that is said to actually perform better with less fertilizer and water. If it’s fed too much, its dark leaves lose their reddish-purple coloring and turn green, and by restricting water, it tends to bloom more. It tends to be a more vigorous plant than other plume-type celosias, and its large blooms are quite attractive. Sakata also introduced a new series of African Marigolds. Proud Mari comes in Orange, Yellow and Gold, and has huge, fist-sized flowers that bloom vigorously. New colors in SuperCal petunias are L.A. Yellow and Pink, and they are fabulous additions […]

Read More

April 17, 2015

Sakata Seed Uses California Spring Trials Display Plants To Give Back

Sakata Seed America is putting its post-CAST (California Spring Trials) plants and flowers to good use to support events in local California communities of Salinas and Morgan Hill. The plants, along with donations through Sakata's Charitable Giving Program, will support three fun-filled community events that promote healthy lifestyles and support the agricultural industry.

Read More
Latest Stories
HRI logo

April 8, 2015

Horticultural Research Institute Accepting Scholarship …

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) is offering seven scholarships for the 2015-2016 school year, totaling $20,000. Applications will be accepted through May 31.

Read More
protecting bees and pollinators video

March 31, 2015

New Video On Protecting Bees And Pollinators Educates H…

A new educational video that provides information on the horticultural industry’s essential role in bee and pollinator stewardship is one result of industry collaboration by the Horticultural Research Institute, AmericanHort, Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment. “Protecting Bees & Pollinators: What Horticulture Needs to Know,” narrates the current state of bee and pollinator health, provides information on factors that impact pollinators and the environment and underscores the beneficial role horticulture plays in providing healthy pollinator ecosystems.

Read More

March 25, 2015

NASS Reports U.S. Honey Production Was Up By 19 Percent…

Honey production in 2014 from producers with five or more colonies totaled 178 million pounds, up 19 percent from 2013, according to a March 20 report from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Read More
cultivate'15 logo

March 4, 2015

Cultivate’15: AmericanHort Announces What’s…

In an industry that has seen major changes occurring at a fast pace, many industry professionals leave Cultivate with their heads spinning and no clear idea of how to regroup and strategize. Cultivate’15 is “Changing the Game.” As this year’s focus, Changing the Game will call your attention to the ways in which our industry has changed and your opportunities to compete successfully.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

February 2, 2015

Download Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 State Of The In…

The Greenhouse Grower 2015 State Of The Industry Whitepaper includes all the results of the survey, including comparisons on 2014 sales to past years, details on how 2015 production volume and prices will compare to 2014, crops that growers will increase and decrease production on, where growers stand on using neonicotinoids on crops, how many growers will pursue growing medical marijuana and more.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Benchmarks: Let’s Change Our Story

It's a new year. Time for our industry to change how consumers perceive plants by creating a new reality where plants are valued for more than their physical beauty.

Read More

January 21, 2015

AFE Wins Platinum MarCom Award For “Murder, Sex a…

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) took home its fourth award for the animated awareness video "Murder, Sex and Greed." The organization also recently announced that there are two new members on its board of trustees.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 19, 2015

2015 State Of The Industry: Current Green Industry Tren…

Demand for green industry products and services is forecasted to increase in coming years as the housing market rebounds.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Terra Nigra Joins DNA Green Group

DNA Green Group will be expanding its range of cut flowers by incorporating Terra Nigra, a company specializing in breeding and propagation of gerberas and roses.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Florensis Receives Horticultural Entrepreneur Award

During the January 7, 2015 award ceremony in the Keukenhof, in Lisse, Netherlands, Florensis received the Horticultural Entrepreneur Award. Florensis was one of four nominated companies, which also included Arcadia BV, Artemis and Martens Asperges.

Read More

January 9, 2015

AmericanHort Celebrates Its First Birthday

AmericanHort was formally launched one year ago on January 1, 2014, and the association is celebrating numerous successes of the first year.

Read More
Carol Miller

January 7, 2015

We’re All In This Together

Growers and retailers have a common goal — to serve customers better. In this new column, Greenhouse Grower will take a look at ways growers and retailers can work together to take advantage of profit opportunities and better meet customer needs.

Read More

January 7, 2015

Industry Speaks Out Against “Waters Of The U.S.” Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule change to the Clean Water Act, known as “waters of the U.S.,” has the potential to disrupt normal business practices for growers across the country.

Read More

January 7, 2015

Students Tackle Real-Life Challenges At National FFA Fl…

Top prize winners put skills learned in the classroom to the test at the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Floriculture Career Development Event.

Read More
Lesley Judd

January 7, 2015

2014 Meister Scholarship Awarded To Ph.D Student

The Richard T. Meister Scholarship was awarded to Lesley Judd, a graduate student with a passion for horticulture and a desire to pass her knowledge along through teaching.

Read More

January 6, 2015

39th Annual Today’s Horticulture Symposium Will Be Febr…

The Professional Gardener Alumni Association (PGAA) will hold the 39th Annual Today’s Horticulture Symposium program will be on February 6, 2015 from 8 a.m. or 4 p.m. in the Ballroom at Longwood Gardens, and will feature an array of engaging speakers.

Read More
Shawn McBurney

January 6, 2015

Society Of American Florists Hires New Lobbyist

Shawn McBurney joined the Society of American Florists' (SAF) staff starting January 5 as the new senior director of government relations.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 5, 2015

Growers Are Optimistic For A Strong Year In 2015

Greenhouse Grower’s State Of The Industry survey reveals that growers are being cautious about the inputs they use, and they’re worried about input costs and regulation, but enthusiastic about the rebounding economy.

Read More