Poll: Can The Independent Garden Center Chain And Mass Merchandisers Coexist?

Hermann Engelmann Offers Container Fairy Gardens

Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses recently introduced fairy garden containers, which will be sold through Walmart stores. Reader reaction to the story was mixed. Here’s a sampling: 

“I think it’s a great way to introduce ‘non gardeners’ to gardening, get them hooked on the hobby and then they will find their way to the IGCs.”
- Deb

“There goes the Fairy Garden market for the independent business man! What a shame.”
- Randy

“I agree with Randy.  I just implemented Fairy Garden classes at my greenhouse, and now Walmart and Engelmann are going to shoot me in the foot. What happened to supporting the local businesses?” 
- Donna

“I agree with Deb–this kind of exposure for this product can only help IGCs that produce fairy gardens. The introduction of this concept to the mass market can trigger a huge ripple effect for IGCs around the country. These are not the highly customized gardens you see in IGCs, however they are catchy. Walmart can never compete with IGCs as far as plant maintenance and display either.” 
- Michael

The conversation has been going on for years. So who’s right? Do the box stores begin consumers on their gardening journey, and then independents pick them up as customers later on? What do you think? 

<a href=”http://polldaddy.com/poll/7013780/”>How do you feel about the relationship between mass merchandisers and the independent garden center chain?</a>

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5 comments on “Poll: Can The Independent Garden Center Chain And Mass Merchandisers Coexist?

  1. IGC's that are located close to Mass merchants benefit the most. The big box brings in the traffic exposes the customer to lots of product BUT does not have the experienced sales staff to answer any of the customers questions leaving the customer staring at many options of products on the shelf. The customer is confused as to what they need and drive down the street to the IGC. When it comes to green goods on the day of delivery they are at parity BUT the box stores product goes down hill every day it is in inventory. They really do not know how to care for the plants and many of the plants are not even in the proper zone and there is no one who can answer the customers questions on care or even planting instructions. Again, after an unsuccessful experience the customer goes to the IGC. As long as the IGC solves the customers problems and treats the customer with care these customers become theirs. Will they still shop the Box? Yes, but now with skepticism. Will they mention that product is less expensive down the street at the box when shopping the IGC? Sure they will, but as long as the IGC is competitive they will always make the sale. The customer is willing to pay for the IGC expertise. Don't run from the Box stores embrace them. They are the best generator of customers for the IGC around.

  2. Mass merchandisers are in direct competition with IGC's, but they don't compete on a level playing field. IGC's must pay for their product no matter whether it sells or is damaged by weather or mishandling. IGC's have to maintain the product on the shelves and merchandise it themselves. All this is done FOR the mass merchandiser, with no risk involved.

  3. Both IGC's and Box stores can co-exist. Producers/growers however will have to make a choice as to what product they supply to whom! You can't supply the IGC with the same product as the Box store across the street. And similarly, if I were to own an IGC I would never buy product from those producers who supply both target markets with the same product. In that regard, I believe Engelmann is making a mistake. As a producer there is not much to be proud of, when supplying Walmart anyways. You profile yourself as the lowest cost producer that is willing to sell for less year after year. Not a very wise business model in my books…

  4. The IGC nuresries that offer different products, give superb service, that are competitive on high demand like items, offer new ideas with instore displays, always ackowledging the value of each customer that enters the store, set up a hot drink table in cooler weather and a lemonade stand in hot weather, diversify into other product lines(local honey or hand made goodies) have contest for customers to bring in the largest vegetable or bring in pictures of the most beautiful bloom and offer a gift card for the winner.Involve customers to be the judges. Just some ideas on how the IGC can compete with the box stores and keep customers guessing on what is next.

  5. I always have one question: If PBS (Pay-By-Scan) is great and wonderful, how does a mass market grower get paid if he ships 10,000 items to big box stores, 5,000 are scanned through a register, and 5,000 are dumpsterized, how does the grower make money on the 5,000 plants, soil, pots, labor, etc he just paid out that went in the dump?

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