Atlanta Market A Reason For Optimism

Marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery spent Saturday, April 17, visiting big box retail garden centers, including two Pike Nurseries stores, in the Atlanta region. All garden centers were crowded, he says, and consumers in the area clearly have a garden fever.

Talk about a market being on fire: In the Atlanta area, garden centers were packed and in some stores, it was almost impossible to find a parking spot within 500 yards of garden centers. The weather was perfect with night temperatures in the low 50s and days in the upper 70s.

The vegetable displays were extremely busy and many of the Bonnie Plant displays were almost empty by the end of the day Saturday (April 17). Although the average vegetable sale appears to carry a much lower sales value than bedding plants, the add-ons with vegetables as a percentage is much greater.

I would often see a cart leaving the store with four to five vegetable plants along with bagged soil, tomato cages, fertilizer and mulch. The hard goods associated with that sale had more dollar value than the plants. That’s why I feel there is little price resistance in the vegetable category; it’s more about varieties and brands. It’s not uncommon to hear families discussing which varieties to buy in the vegetable category, whereas in bedding plants it’s more about impulse.

Walmart

You will find some of the best Walmart garden centers in the Atlanta market featuring very consistent store-to-store product quality with a nice range of sizes, price points, and variety selection. Walmart does not overwhelm you with a complex selection but focuses on the basics with enough novelties to make it interesting. Inserting items in the mix like the 6-inch gerbera daisy in a colorful tin pot is a way Walmart immediately catches your eye as you enter the garden center.

Home Depot

In this market, Home Depot offered the 10-inch premium Aqualok ([email protected]) basket at $17.97, while in Orlando the same basket retailed for $11.98 in their stores. In some stores, the Viva petunias retailed for $3.97 while in others they were $4.97 and $5.97. One store offered Viva vegetables in a quart at $3.57. It was the first time I have seen Viva vegetables in at least four years.

Lowe’s

There was far less emphasis on the Grow Your Own (GYO) program in this market than I observed in others. The price of 1-gallon vegetables was $3.98 versus $5.98 in the Florida market, and there was far less inventory on the shelves.

Lowe’s did have a significant inventory of GYO 8-inch berries and packaged roots. Bonnie Plants still occupies some of the prime retailing space whereas the GYO is far less visible. There is also a product mix issue, especially with tomatoes and peppers, with a surprising small number of varieties compared to other programs

Every store offered the Aqualok 10-inch premium hanging basket priced from $14.98 to $16.98, depending on each store visited. In our observations the displays were mostly fully stocked, indicating that Aqualok may not be resonating with the consumer. Still, it’s early and it is a new concept.

Pike Nurseries

These stores have improved so much in the last two years, featuring well-organized store layouts, vastly improved POS signage and great merchandising. The inside areas are brighter, cleaner and the lighting has improved. One thing that’s even more noticeable is how employees are engaged with the customers. I observed more Pike’s personnel on the sales floor advising their customers than any retailer I have visited in the past two years.

Costco

Costco offered the following items:

– 12-inch hydrangea with 10 to 15 flowers for $19.99–a spectacular value
–3-pack of 1-gallon perennials at $13.99
–8-pack of 5.5-inch annuals retailing at $11.99 (green, no color)
–12-inch patio pot at $13.99–a really good value
–12-inch coco fiber basket retailing at $16.99
–3-pack quart berries dormant retailing at $19.99–great packaging

Sam’s Club

Sam’s Club offered the following items:

–13-inch patio pots retailing at $17.86
–12-inch coco fiber baskets retailing at $17.86
–10-inch premium baskets retailing at $9.42–a great value
–1801 annuals for $9.42
–10-inch tomato caged retailing at $9.42

Sam’s featured large displays in the parking lot and was attracting a lot of interested customers.   

Summary

Clearly, this is turning into a great season in the Atlanta market, with demand for lawn and garden products stronger than ever. All garden centers we visited were crowded and, more importantly, consumers were buying. Vegetables, as expected, were extremely popular, as were annuals and perennials. Two big winners are Scott’s, with every cart going out of the stores containing one or more of its brands, and Bonnie Plants, which appears to be having a banner year as the demand for edibles continues to grow.

It was good to see how well the Pike Nurseries group was performing, with upgraded stores and a vast improvement in selection and merchandising. Why is Pike Nursery doing so well in a market that has so many home centers and mass merchants? Most of their annuals, for instance, are produced by growers who also grow for the big boxes.

When visiting Pike Nurseries stores, a number of elements become very apparent:

– You never see carts or other debris blocking aisle ways.
–Seldom do you see personnel watering during the day.
–They do not have a huge focus on bagged goods like the big boxes.
–They do not offer the same plant brands as the big boxes–I saw no Proven Winners or Wave in the stores visited.
–Prices are clearly marked and in the case of hanging baskets, every item has a price tag.
–Pike has the most friendly and helpful personnel, something the big boxes have not duplicated
–Aisles are wide enough for carts to pass going in opposite directions.
–Great use and development of POS materials.
–Pricing strategies that make Pike competitive on the common items but extract value on their unique items

Clearly, Pike Nurseries has made its stores destinations for many consumers, taking over a failing business and revitalizing it into a very successful group of garden centers.

About the author: Jerry Montgomery is a 40-year veteran of the floriculture industry and has worked for distributor companies, breeders and large growers specializing with a focus on sales and marketing. As an industry consultant, he works for large growers, distributors and breeder/producers. His focus is to understand the market dynamics from breeder to consumer through intense retail travel, visiting almost 1,500 stores since January 2008.

Leave a Reply

More From Marketing...
Petal-it-Forward

October 3, 2017

October 11 is Your Chance to Petal it Forward

The Society of American Florists’ “Petal it Forward” campaign returns in 2017. Learn how you can participate in this day of spreading kindness through flowers.

Read More
Micandy Gardens Team

September 17, 2017

4 Ways Micandy Gardens Greenhouses Reaches Out to Millennials

Micandy leverages social media to get the word out about its products and spread the word about how flowers can make a difference in people’s lives.

Read More
Costa Farms Exotic Angel Idea Book

September 12, 2017

Costa Farms’ New Lookbook Offers Consumers Ideas on Best Plants for the Home

The new “Bring Your Home to Life” lookbook is a curated collection of more than 300 unique plant varieties best suited to grow in homes and offices.

Read More
Latest Stories
Petal-it-Forward

October 3, 2017

October 11 is Your Chance to Petal it Forward

The Society of American Florists’ “Petal it Forward” campaign returns in 2017. Learn how you can participate in this day of spreading kindness through flowers.

Read More
Micandy Gardens Team

September 17, 2017

4 Ways Micandy Gardens Greenhouses Reaches Out to Mill…

Micandy leverages social media to get the word out about its products and spread the word about how flowers can make a difference in people’s lives.

Read More
Costa Farms Exotic Angel Idea Book

September 12, 2017

Costa Farms’ New Lookbook Offers Consumers Ideas on Bes…

The new “Bring Your Home to Life” lookbook is a curated collection of more than 300 unique plant varieties best suited to grow in homes and offices.

Read More
Certified American Grown Flowers

September 5, 2017

Certified American Grown Flowers Names New Third-Party …

The organization’s new partnership with Where Food Comes From Inc., an agriculture-focused certification company with more than 20 years of experience, will be launched via video conference on September 14.

Read More
Container Gardening

September 5, 2017

14 Consumer Gardening Trends That Have Stood the Test o…

In early September, the Garden Media Group will unveil its 2018 Garden Trends report. To whet your appetite, here’s a look back at several trends that remain relevant today.

Read More

August 29, 2017

Know Your Grower: New Platform Brings Consumer Transpar…

The new Follow Your Flower or Plant vignette from MPS allows consumers to learn all about the producers of the plants and flowers they see at retail, and how sustainably their products are grown.

Read More
green-plan-it-gardening-outdoor-nature-explore-classroom

August 29, 2017

First-Of-Its-Kind Federal Grant Designed to Stimulate C…

The National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture has received a USDA grant to help develop strategies and tactics to grow the practice of gardening 20% by 2025.

Read More
Luxfloraflowerrun17

July 20, 2017

Luxflora Attracted Even More Participation to its Secon…

More than 170 runners kicked off Cultivate'16 on Sunday, July 16, with Luxflora's second annual 5k race. It was a great way to start the week, participants said.

Read More
National Garden Bureau 2018 Year of the Calibrachoa

July 15, 2017

National Garden Bureau Announces Featured Plants for it…

Plant classes recognized include bulb crops (tulip), annuals (calibrachoa), vegetables/edibles (beet), and perennials (coreopsis).

Read More
cut flower arrangement

July 5, 2017

Congress Designates July as American Grown Flowers Mont…

Last week, Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) introduced a bipartisan resolution designating July as “American Grown Flowers Month.” Co-sponsored by Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (WA-03), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA-50), Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Rep. Don Young (AK-1), Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-02), and Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49), House Resolution 413 declares July as the month to celebrate the economic and cultural impact of America’s cut flower and greens farmers and demonstrate Congress’ commitment to support America’s flower farming families. Congressman Carbajal spoke from the House Floor, introducing the legislation and encouraging fellow members of Congress to support American Grown Flowers Month. “I have seen firsthand the value the grown flower industry adds to our economy and communities during my visits with our Central Coast growers,” said Rep. Carbajal. “California produces three quarters of all cut flowers grown in the United States. I am committed to recognizing their contribution […]

Read More
PlantHaven Team 2017

July 2, 2017

PlantHaven Wins Medal of Excellence Award for Marketing

After 20 years of making the world a more vibrant, colorful place, PlantHaven wins Greenhouse Grower’s Medal of Excellence Award for Marketing for its groundbreaking ability to connect breeders, growers, and consumers through personable advertising campaigns.

Read More

June 1, 2017

Reimagining a Brand: How Did We Do With Greenhouse Grow…

Changing the design and content strategy of a brand isn't easy, but we think the new Greenhouse Grower will help carry our innovative industry forward and allow us to better serve your information needs.

Read More
NICH Plants Do That infographic feature

April 11, 2017

New Infographic Highlights Economic Impact of Plants

A new report from the National Institute for Consumer Horticulture shows how horticulture positively affects people’s lives wherever they live, work, shop, and play.

Read More
National Garden Bureau New Website

March 22, 2017

National Garden Bureau’s New Website Features Mobile-Fr…

The new site is designed to serve as a home base to drive traffic from NGB’s social media community to one central location.

Read More

March 7, 2017

Local Florists Celebrate Women’s Day and SAF Prom…

Florists across the U.S. are celebrating International Women's Day, March 8, and raising awareness for non-profit organizations. The Society of American Florists is raising its own awareness of what happens when women receive flowers with a new video for International Women's Day.

Read More
Savor New Website

February 16, 2017

Pleasant View Launches Updated Website for its Savor Ed…

The site is designed to offer a friendly and informative vehicle that delivers product information in an easy-to-navigate format.

Read More

January 24, 2017

Beekenkamp Plants B.V. to Take Over Marketing Sunny Ost…

Beekenkamp Plants B.V. will take over Sunny Holland B.V.'s marketing activities as of July 1, 2017, and begin offering Sunny Osteospermum to the supply chain.

Read More
gg-january-2017-cover-arizonaeast-feature

January 5, 2017

Why ArizonaEast Is Expanding Its Succulent Production T…

In Greenhouse Grower's January cover story, learn how Brian and Joe Vitale of ArizonaEast saw a chance to expand and diversify their New Jersey-based succulent operation, and why they jumped at the opportunity.

Read More