Store Displays, Customer Service & Pricing In Atlanta Retailer Locations

View: Jerry Montgomery On Big Box Retailing

The weather was perfect for gardening and shopping, with nights in the mid-50s and days in the mid to upper 70s. The consumer traffic was heavy and most garden centers were crowded especially on Sunday, April 15. The stores were well-stocked.  Some had outside corrals in order to have enough merchandise to satisfy the demand.

The outside areas were set up with carts and the carts were often spaced too close together, allowing only one consumer to shop in an aisle at a time. The carts can be evenly spaced if one cart is centered on each parking paint line. Also, be sure not to water plants during peak business hours; complete watering before 9am and don’t start again until 4pm to avoid driving consumers out of your stores.

Home Depot

Clearly the leader in perennials supplied by Stacy’s Greenhouses, this store had more flowering merchandise than one usually sees. This made for some very impressive displays.  Home Depot clearly understands that consumers buy on impulse and green perennials do not create an impulsive reaction. They also understand the importance of packaging with colored containers and huge descriptive labels.

Home Depot offered a new program called  Smart Starts for starter size perennials in 209 retail with Salvia ‘May Night’ and Coreopsis ‘Nana’ for $15.98. The 209 tray had a colorful handle with a lot of consumer information.

In the annuals category, it offered a new size of ipomea. A 306 handle pack retails for $7.98. It was an item that seemed to be moving swiftly.

In the stores supplied by Rambo Nursery they offered a 12-inch Wave basket in the signature pink color the first we have this season. They also are the only vendor we have seen this season using large Wave point-of-sale signage attached to the display carts. Obviously a grower who understands the consumer knows and looks for Wave and it is one of the highest margin items in most growers’ product portfolio, low input costs in the premium category and in my estimation the No. 1 plant brand in the annual category.

Home Depot offered a lot Big Red (Calliope) geraniums both in both the 1-gallon and 12-inch hanging basket SKUs, large displays on Sunpatiens and a number other Viva branded items, including petunias, XXL dahlias, dianthus, coleus and snapdragons. The Vigoro brand consisted of Geraniums and other vegetative items. In the basic annual category they were running a promotion of 606 packs, four for $5.00. They offered large inventories of 4.5-inch basic annuals as well as T-18 (aka 1801) landscaper trays.

Every store carried Proven Winners but not in the large number we observed in other markets.  The retail was $4.98 for a 4.25 inch and the sell through seemed to be doing well, as we observed many empty trays

Lowe’s

Seemingly far more focused on premium items, they have created a very relevant mix of products that seems to resonate with the consumer as evidenced by the busiest stores in this market. Costa Farms uses color containers as well as a vendor we have seen over the past several years. They take a genic product like lantana in a colored pot and make it look like a premium item in an 8 inch.

Lowe’s had a number of interesting programs that has helped make them relevant:

  • 306 Landscape Pack with premium items like Sunpatiens retail for $7.98
  • Patio Tree Collection
  • 2 gallon vining on a trellis
  • 1 gallon Mail Box mandavillea
  • 10-inch alstromeria
  • 8-inch kangaroo paw
  • Quart Soil Wrap Sunpatines
  • 1 gallon premium annual combo
  • Trays that allow the graphics on each pot to face outward
  •  Drop & Grow 10 plants of vegetative items to plant directly in a flat

The Garden Club Select (GCS) brand continues be the mainstay for new premium genetics although every store carried Wave and Proven Winners. There are premium items that sell free standing most notably Geraniums and New Guinea Impatiens.

Walmart

These were really impressive stores. I have not seen any Walmart stores that are comparable for a while. The merchandise was good quality, and the stores were neat and clean. Seldom did we see a missing price sign or a product that was past prime.

Clearly Metrolina Greenhouses knows how to work in cooperation with each store to insure their products are well merchandised and receive the necessary post-delivery care for maximum shelf life.

Metrolina had some of the best Wave displays we have seen because they ship a mix of light and dark colors that make a very compelling color pallet. Many Wave displays we have observed consist of one or two colors, but these displays always had three or more.

 The Better Homes & Gardens (BH&G) displays in these stores were really outstanding with every size showing a lot of color on well-grown compact plants. With this level of product quality, BH&G is bound to be a success.

Metrolina also had a very relevant generic vegetable program, which featured a 1 gallon retailing for $4 and a 1 pint retailing for $1.15. This is a seemingly a good consumer alternative to the branded vegetables.

The one new item that really stood out was an 8-inch combo pot called Pop In that was positioned to be dropped in a larger container. It was the most attractive combo I saw during the entire trip; when you entered the garden center, it immediately drew your attention. And for $5.98, you have to believe it’s a home run for Walmart and Metrolina.

Pike Family Nurseries

They just keep getting better and better since Armstrong Gardens bought them with more upgraded stores and great plant merchandising in their greenhouse sales areas. Each year they have a seasonal theme, and this year it is “Gardening without Guesswork.” The nursery backs this theme up with helpful and knowledgeable staff. If only the big boxes realized the importance of friendly and knowledgeable people in the green goods sector, IGCs would find it far more difficult to flourish.

The Pike garden centers are almost totally focused on selling green goods. I would estimate their sales are 80 to 85 percent green goods. The largest hard goods item appears to be its container area with a huge selection of high quality outdoor containers.

It’s always a pleasure to visit a Pike location and would not think about doing a retail tour of Atlanta without stopping a one or more of their stores.

Costco

  • 10 pack 4.5-inch annuals, $19.99 from American Color
  • 16-inch patio pot combo, 26.98 from American Color
  • 12-inch Coco fiber basket, $16.99 from American Color
  • 12-inch patio vegetables caged, $13.99 from Sunshine Growers
  • 3 pack 1 gallon perennials, $13.79 from BFN

 

Sam’s Club

  • 10-inch hanging basket premium annuals, $8.99 from Metrolina Greenhouses
  • T-18 annuals, $10.98 from Metrolina Greenhouses
  • 10” hanging basket ferns, $9.98 from Metrolina Greenhouses
  • 3g azaleas- $18.98, no vendor ID
  • 3g Knock out roses, $16.98

Summary

The Atlanta market is clearly the bell weather market for the Southeast; as it goes, so goes the entire Southeast. Next season will be worth watching even more so than this year, as Costa Farms enters the perennial market with their recent purchase of Layman Nursery who is the primary perennial supplier to Lowe’s and Walmart in this market. Costa will now share the Walmart account with Metrolina who is the primary supplier in the annual category and what will be the reaction of Stacy’s the premier perennial company in the eastern U.S.

We are seeing changes especially with Walmart as they launch the Better Homes & Gardens program, arguably with great success in this market. Not to mention the Atlanta market stores are some of the best in the country. I thought the Pop In combo program was one of the most interesting of the season, with recipes that actually all flower together. It’s certainly eye-catching at the point of purchase.

At Lowe’s we see a lot of activity on the product mix front, and Costa Farms is constantly adding new and interesting programs and expanding the use of colored containers. They are adding interesting programs like the Sunpatiens in the soil wrap packaging, a very interesting concept. What will next year bring as they enter the perennial category?

Home Depot seems to be betting their growth on the three brands that currently command a lot of space in their garden centers: Viva, Proven Winners and Vigoro.

In the edible category, the only area of note outside of vegetables seems to be strawberries driven arguably by the success of the seed Strawberries from ABZ Seed in Holland. Bonnie continues to dominant the vegetable category and has upgraded their program with more colorful and relevant POS materials. It has also added a nice 12-inch caged vegetable program. Metrolina Greenhouses has a nice generic program in Walmart that gives the consumer another choice and is aggressively priced.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

More From Grow Initiative...
Metrolina Greenhouses Dig and Swig Event

June 25, 2017

Consumers Revel in Gardening at Metrolina Greenhouses’ Dig & Swig Events

Metrolina wanted to promote plants, gardening, and creating a sense of community, so it decided to host Dig & Swig events at a local brewery.

Read More

May 23, 2017

6 Simple Ways to Acquire New Customers

Even the most successful brands need new customers if they want to grow their business, or stay profitable.

Read More
Tyler Beasley

May 21, 2017

Final California Spring Trials Thoughts From Allan Armitage Scholarship Winner Tyler Beasley

“I went home from California Spring Trials realizing that the students enrolled in our Greenhouse Management program at Spokane Community College need to experience the trials. Attending opened many doors of opportunity for me.”

Read More
Latest Stories
Metrolina Greenhouses Dig and Swig Event

June 25, 2017

Consumers Revel in Gardening at Metrolina Greenhouses’ …

Metrolina wanted to promote plants, gardening, and creating a sense of community, so it decided to host Dig & Swig events at a local brewery.

Read More

May 23, 2017

6 Simple Ways to Acquire New Customers

Even the most successful brands need new customers if they want to grow their business, or stay profitable.

Read More
Tyler Beasley

May 21, 2017

Final California Spring Trials Thoughts From Allan Armi…

“I went home from California Spring Trials realizing that the students enrolled in our Greenhouse Management program at Spokane Community College need to experience the trials. Attending opened many doors of opportunity for me.”

Read More
Cannabis Adobe Stock feature

May 1, 2017

Why I Turned Down a High-Paying Offer to Grow Cannabis …

Young growers have passion for all aspects of organic and sustainable growing. The key to not losing them to the cannabis industry, according to Kelly Vance, a Technical Consultant for Beneficial Insectary, may be nurturing their interests in these fields by aligning greenhouse production with sustainable growing practices.

Read More
National Collegiate Landscape Competition Feature

April 27, 2017

Hoffman Nursery Cheers On the Next Generation of Hortic…

Hoffman Nursery was a sponsor of the recent 41st National Collegiate Landscape Competition, an event that offers several opportunities for companies in the green industry to meet and recruit the next-generation of horticulturists.

Read More
Kaylee South

April 22, 2017

American Floral Endowment Announces Winners of 2017 Pau…

Four students pursuing careers in horticulture now have scholarships to help them along the way, thanks to the American Floral Endowment.

Read More
Basil Planting feature

March 29, 2017

How You Can Embrace Greenhouse Food Production With Con…

Maintaining balance, learning continuously, and seeking support will help make your transition into producing greenhouse food crops a smooth one.

Read More
If your Wi-Fi is truly secure, your staff can help customers on the sales floor starting today

March 25, 2017

What Marketing Approach Can Attracts the Most Customers…

Inc.com surveyed more than a thousand customers to find out which marketing strategies worked best to entice them to try out a new business

Read More
Greenhouse Loyal Customer

March 16, 2017

How Brand Enthusiasts Can Be Your Most Loyal Customers

A marketing expert shares three core principles that direct-to-consumer companies can follow to create brand enthusiasts.

Read More

February 17, 2017

How to Keep Customers Coming Back With Top-Notch Servic…

A recent article on Forbes.com outlines seven ways organizations can take their customer service from good to great and beyond.

Read More

January 27, 2017

Why Greenhouse Growers Must Know Their Costs to Stay Co…

Tom Dudek, Senior Educator at Michigan State University Extension, says greenhouse growers should evaluate their production costs to determine if they need to make adjustments to stay competitive.

Read More
Workplace Trends

January 20, 2017

10 Trends Predicted to Impact the Workplace in 2017

Here are 10 workplace trends that Forbes contributor Dan Schawbel predicts for 2017 that may change the way you do business in the future

Read More

January 10, 2017

Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship Endowment Fund Accepting …

The deadline for applications is May 26, and 12 scholarships of $1,500 each will be awarded at the SEGreen Conference in August.

Read More
GROW Logo

December 28, 2016

Greenhouse Grower’s GROW Initiative: A Year In Review

Staying ahead of the competition in today’s world is about remaining in constant motion with innovation. To create a competitive advantage, you must consistently experiment with and learn from new ideas. Greenhouse Grower’s GROW initiative provided cutting-edge ideas and actionable advice.

Read More
Grow Summit 2016 group shot

December 20, 2016

Less Talk, More Action At Greenhouse Grower’s GRO…

Investing in technology, developing new marketing solutions, and recruiting young growers were just a few of the issues covered at GROW Summit 2016.

Read More
Dramm-Echter-Pink-Gerbera-Daisies

November 22, 2016

Dramm & Echter Donates Pink Gerbera Daisies During …

“As a local flower farm, we are honored to show our support by sharing symbolic pink flowers with each participant as they reach the midway point on their amazing journey,” says Bob Echter, Owner of Dramm & Echter.

Read More
deming-pdsa-cycle

November 21, 2016

How The PDSA Cycle Can Help You Improve Your Business

No successful business stays stagnant, which means you should constantly be looking for ways to make improvements to your business and your products. Are you looking for a good model to follow? Try the PDSA Cycle.

Read More
afe-fundraising-dinner

November 17, 2016

AFE Fundraising Dinner Celebrates Success, Raises Almos…

The American Floral Endowment’s biggest fundraising event of the year, the 2016 Annual Fundraising Dinner, did more than just honor industry champions. It also raised nearly $20,000 for the future of floriculture programs.

Read More