GG: What are the characteristics of the very best grower-retailer relationships?
LT: We truly believe the grower-retailer relationship needs to be a partnership. The feeling we get from some customers is that (growers) are the enemy; that we’re the adversary trying to steal money from them. What they’re not seeing is that we both work for the same person. And that’s Mrs. Smith.
Retailers don’t understand that we’re 100 percent invested in their success. Because if they don’t sell, then I don’t have any customers. I’m there to help. I want feedback on what you’re looking for. What is it your customers are looking for? Have you actually asked your customer, or are you just seeing what you like?
What we want in return is when we provide very good quality material and the consumer comes in and reacts to it, I expect you to reward our company and buy again. Not look for the next guy who comes around with a cheaper price.
GG: What opportunities are there for growers to market directly to consumers, even when the retailer serves as a “middle man?”
LT: We have a QR code on our new tags. The plan is that the QR code will take you to a video. Depending on what the plant is, we’ll decide who gets to do that little video. If it’s an ornamental edible, maybe [my wife] Candy [Traven] pops up on a screen for 15 to 20 seconds. For me, the video would be something over the top like, “That that’s such a cool plant you picked up.”
We’re saying to our customers: If you’ve bought from us you’re on our website with a location. They can find you on our website – and they love that. But then you have to tell them that means you actually need to buy some material from us. Because if they come into your store and they expect to find our product, they’re not going to be mad at me. They’re going to be mad at you.
That’s how it ties together. They just got to start to understand we’re all working together.
We’re forming a partnership with the consumer, too. Home Depot serves a purpose. And that purpose is to do 80 percent of 20 different items. They are your bread-and-butter, high-volume items. They’re going to do them very well. And they deserve what they get out of it.