Jeff Griff

August 23, 2013

How Lowe’s Greenhouses Picks Which New Plants To Sell [Plant Nerd]

Everyone on our staff, including me, loves new plants. The problem is there are always more. There are more annuals, more perennials, more shrubs and trees than you could possibly offer. More petunias, more heuchera, more hydrangea, more of everything — you get the drift. Here’s how we edit our choices at Lowe’s Greenhouses: First Step: Review Performance Since we grow our annuals and perennials, planning for a successful spring next year begins as soon as this year has ended. Early in July our retail staff discusses the winners and losers of the season. What did we have too much of, what did we fall short on and what was requested that we did not have at all? The staff fills out a questionnaire to focus in on what is most important: How we can grow sales? Our production team notes order cancellations, variety substitutions, crop failures and production errors […]

Read More

August 12, 2013

Beyond Mums: Plants You Can Still Sell In Fall

A few years ago, PanAmerican Seed’s Tom Contrisciano (a product representative for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic) wanted to explore which plants not only perform well in fall, but would be as easy to grow as mums. Performance is only one side of the coin. If retailers want to carry these plants outside their traditional season, the plants would have to be in production and available for orders. What followed was a multi-year testing of popular spring and summer season plants for their performance in fall and how well they responded to the low-care growing conditions. The lineup of plants is called Mums Pal. Contrisciano talked to us about the process and the results. Which plants are included in your Mums Pal program? Tom Contrisciano: Gaillardia, ornamental pepper, zinnias and several others. What spurred your research? Contrisciano: I was getting feed back from commercial and retail people that there’s a demand for […]

Read More

August 9, 2013

The Top 10 Most Influential Plant Varieties

1. The Knock Out Rose Before Knock Out came along, who would have guessed a rose would become the most important plant for garden retail? David Austin Roses had made some progress in erasing roses’ reputation as fussy and unattractive garden shrubs. But The Knock Out Rose debuted and gained a reputation as indestructible in just about all climates. It was the highest grossing plant for many retailers for several years. Other varieties in the series have had success, but nothing like the phenomenon of that first Knock Out. 2. Petunia ‘Purple Wave’ This is the spreading variety that launched the petunia craze. Wave petunias not only captured consumer interest, but set the stage for the popularity of all the mini-petunia baskets that took off after ‘Million Bells’ calibrachoa hit the market. It’s hard to imagine an industry not dominated by petunias. 3. Endless Summer Hydrangeas Endless Summer’s huge success just […]

Read More

July 30, 2013

Eight Secrets To Help You Stock And Sell Made-In-The-USA Products

Selling and promoting products made in the U.S. holds a lot of appeal for retailers and customers alike. But sourcing and selling these products are not as straightforward as it first seems. American-made isn’t a single department, after all. It’s not like you have a budget category for American-made products. Any other product group you buy for, you have an idea of the types of products you need, the sizes, color and price points. Requiring that they be made in the U.S. adds just one more layer of complexity to buying. We spoke with a few retailers who have solved this puzzle. Well, each of them would say they are still solving the puzzle, but they have been making the effort to buy and promote American-made for long enough they’ve learned a few things the rest of the industry can learn from. 1. Find A Story To Tell The inherent […]

Read More
Steve Bailey

July 22, 2013

Look At Your Garden Center’s Finances To Make Sure It’s Fit To Thrive

From a financial standpoint, our industry is smarter than it was before 2008. It arrived at this point through duress, however. I call it “business management borne out of necessity.” Here is how that played out: When the recession hit, sales dipped. That meant fixed costs and expenses like labor became a bigger part of the budget, so much so it threatened to shutdown the garden center. So retailers began cutting costs to stay afloat. For some, it was a matter of lowering cost of goods sold (the largest target), while others lowered their wage and wage benefits (the second largest target), or both, to compensate and attempt to hold the line on profit erosion. It was a somewhat convoluted way to arrive at a positive result, but it made some small-business owners more fiscally responsible. These businesses did what they had to do to make it work within the […]

Read More

April 19, 2013

Wojo’s Greenhouses Increased Nursery Department Profits 64 Percent By Eliminating End Of Season Clearances [10% Project]

Marking down plants at the end of the season is a common practice to clear out old inventory. But do these sales really generate more traffic and sales? Or can garden retailers get away with no discounts? After reading about the 10% Project's pricing study, Joe Lutey, General Manager at Wojo's Greenhouse, Ortonville, Mich., decided to see what would happen if it did not discount plants at the end of the spring season.

Read More

April 1, 2013

Boxwood Blight: Quick Facts About This Pest

Boxwood blight was first discovered in Europe in the mid 1990s and is now widespread there. North America escaped confirmed cases until late October 2011. Since that time, it has been found in most East Coast states, Ohio and Oregon, as well as the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Cause Boxwood blight is caused by a fungus, Cylindrocladium buxicola. The fungus has also been referred to by two other Latin names, Cylindrocladium pseudonaviculatum or Calonectria pseudonaviculata. Hosts Plant species within the genera buxus, pachysandra and sarcococca have been reported as hosts to this fungus. However, there is limited information about the role pachysandra (spurge) and sarcococca (sweetbox) species play as possible vectors for initiating the disease in boxwood. Although the full host-range of this fungus has not been finalized, it is believed that only plants within the family buxaceae can be infected by the pathogen. Research conducted […]

Read More

January 24, 2013

Two New Ways Retailers Make Money From Food Equipment

Can’t afford to install a café in your garden center? Two garden retailers reveal the details on the successful, high-return snack machines that allow them to offer customers tasty treats without breaking the bank. Boulevard Flower Gardens Finds Popcorn Pays When Owner Mark Landa first purchased a kettle corn machine in October 2011, he had no idea it would be such a hit. “We purchased the machine mainly as an addition to our pick-your-own pumpkin operation,” Landa says. “Generally kettle corn, fairs and outdoor activities go together. I wanted something that would be another attraction and moneymaker for the event. It was a big success.” While the machine set Landa back $2,500, it paid for itself in the first month. After the fall festivities, the kettle corn machine was retired until spring. The retailer decided to set the machine out front during the busy season to gauge the response during […]

Read More

August 17, 2012

Low Prices Do Not Sell More Plants

We worked with Meister Media Worldwide to learn more about customer behavior when faced with plants that are priced differently from comparable plants nearby. This is a joint effort involving The 10% Project and a study we will be analyzing extensively in a peer-review format later in the year. Before we talk about the results of our study, it’s important to explain a few economic and marketing concepts. Today’s Economic Conditions The Great Recession of 2008 had a major impact on the national floriculture industry due to job losses, home foreclosures, declining consumer confidence, lower business spending and inflationary pressures on some key production inputs. Due to the cumulative impacts of these stressful economic conditions, we find that several of our peers are no longer working in the industry, with some estimates of one in four firms lost as fallout. Of those that have survived, several we have interacted with indicated […]

Read More

March 20, 2012

Eye-Tracking Research Uncovers What Garden Center Customers Really See

There has been a lot of press on new technology that can track where people look when given a specific object to study. We wanted to learn how this technology would work in the garden retail setting.

Read More