To Reflect Changes In Customer Buying, Wingard’s Nursery & Garden Center Becomes Wingard’s Market

Wally and Delores Steinhauser
Wally and Delores Steinhauser

When Delores and Wally Steinhauser decided to buy her parents’ Lexington, S.C.-based garden center a decade ago, the Wingard’s were so well-regarded by the customers, the couple wanted to reassure customers by keeping the look and feel of the store Delores’ parents created and sustained since 1967.

Over the next few years, Wally Steinhauser says, the customers got to know them, and to trust them even as they began testing out new products and improving different ways of serving customers. As customers embraced each innovation, the garden store began to transform. So much so, the Steinhausers announced in early 2016 that Wingard’s Nursery & Garden Center was no more, and Wingard’s Market is taking its place.

The Steinhausers say the transformation that led to renaming their business began by testing how well giftware and produce would sell for them. They were looking for a way to even out sales over the year.

“Plants are so seasonal, even as far south as we are, even as mild as the temps may be in February,” Wally says. “If I gave plants away in January and February, I would have a hard time doing that. People just aren’t used to getting plants at that time. And July and August are a struggle, too, between the heat and vacations.”

The only constraints the couple felt when choosing which new products to carry were they had to match their customers’ lifestyles. “We can sell anything a 35 to 75 woman would want to buy,” Wally says.

So in 2013, the couple and increased the size of the gift shop and added produce to their inventory. It was a natural fit for the community, which has a farming culture underpinning its modern economy.

“We added produce in 2013 and 2014, and it grew each year, 20% to 30%. By 2014 it was 8% of our revenue. All we did that first year was to make a modest investment to see how it would work, to add a shed roof on a building we had. It grew and worked well,” Wally says.

That first shed was only 140 square feet. In 2015, the Steinhausers refurbished an old straw shed, which is 1,500 square feet. And revenue grew 30%.

“All of sudden we were able to sell a lot of things we couldn’t sell before, and spoilage went down,” he says.

In addition to produce, Wingard’s sells free-range eggs, free-range pork and seafood caught off the Carolina coasts. They have a bakery now, too. Suppliers are seeking them out, and the Steinhausers have a wealth of options when selecting the right food items to sell.

“It’s the whole local movement. All of a sudden, we had suppliers that would deliver to us, all local. Now its about 10% of our revenue, and we had a great year last year,” he says.

Wingard Farm To Table Dinner

The new division was a true risk. “We had no clue if it would work,” Wally says. “We knew we had a great location, we knew we had a bunch of farmers who are always looking for markets. The whole local stuff is big. Customers want to know what’s in it and who grows it. We have a map with the names and logos of all the farmers who supply us and where they are located.”

Wingard’s also hosted two large farm-to-table dinners in 2015, with about 70 to 80 people attending each event.

“We got a magazine to write an article about it. That helped to reinforce the whole notion of local poultry, fish, and produce,” Wally says.

Some of the newer items, like the bakery, are sold on consignment. “There’s little risk to us if we don’t sell,” he says.

At the same time the food side of the business began taking off, the couple built up the gift shop. “The gift shop is good all year, but it really sustained us through the winter,” Wally says.

An employee with strong visual merchandising skills has helped boost sells in that department and elsewhere in the store.

“We have a really talented woman — she’s 25 years old — who we promoted to merchandise the whole nursery, produce, gift shop and all the plants. We give her rope and try to stay out of the way,” he says.

Once those two departments were more than holding their own, the Steinhausers realized they were operating four businesses, not just one:

  1. Annuals & perennials
  2. Tree & Shrub
  3. Gift
  4. Produce

“When we looked at it, it’s not really a garden center. It’s really a broader market. Then we looked at the logo we had been using for 10 years, and realized it didn’t fit who we are any more,” he says.

The couple wanted to change the logo to look completely different.

“The old one was about keeping the heritage Delores’ parents had without making it obvious that they sold it. Now it’s time to go for the next iteration for the logo,” Wally says.

Wingards Market Logo 2015
The new logo’s colors were inspired by a container garden the Steinhausers saw. It was in a purple pot, and filled sweet potato vine and purple petunias.

But they also wanted a nod to the company’s heritage and added the year the business started (1967) to the logo.

The name change and new logo have a ripple effect, of course. The store now has a new sign, new stationary, and new website. They worked with lawyers to register the new name with the state.

The changes won’t stop with the name change.

The couple will be adding more structures to provide indoor shopping. First on the list is a 1,500- to 2,000-square-foot retail greenhouse. That will allow them to sell more plants that cannot tolerate even the mild South Carolina winters, such as citrus plants.

They also plan to add a porch to the produce market to give it a more obvious farm-market look. “It’s funny. Sometimes all the signage in the world doesn’t work. We have a 12-foot sign pointing to the produce area, and it’s like they don’t see it,” Wally says.

Other recent additions were related to security: a new fence and cameras. The store had a theft problem in 2014, which has been curbed by the new additions.

When asked about why he thinks this concept took off for him, Wally said there were two reasons:

“First, we live in an area where the economy is generally stable. It’s agricultural based, and the state government is 12 miles away, a university is 12 miles away. We have a medical industry nearby, as well as the power company. The unemployment rate is lower than many places in the state.

“And two, it’s a great to live because the school system is arguably the best in the state. And we have Lake Murray, which is a huge lake right behind us. It’s just a very desirable place to live and a great place to raise your kids.”

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “To Reflect Changes In Customer Buying, Wingard’s Nursery & Garden Center Becomes Wingard’s Market

  1. […] To Reflect Changes In Customer Buying, Wingard's Nursery &amp. Garden Center … When Delores and Wally Steinhauser decided to buy her parents&#39. Lexington, S.C.-based garden center a decade ago, the Wingard's were so well-regarded by the customers, the couple wanted to reassure customers by keeping the look and feel of the store … Read more on Greenhouse Grower (blog) […]

More From Retailing...

July 11, 2017

Grower-Retailers Invited to Help Pick Their Favorite Products at Cultivate’17

The Garden Center Group is inviting grower-retailers to join them on their quest to highlight the best new retail products on display at Cultivate’17.

Read More
Hort Couture Farm to Table Display

July 7, 2017

New Marketing and Retail Display Ideas to Boost Your Plant Sales

Innovative marketing displays and retail concepts at California Spring Trials 2017, inspired by popular consumer trends and the need to encourage consumer success, overflowed with exciting new ways to promote plants.

Read More

June 19, 2017

IGC Show Features Talks on How to Cash in on the Buy Local Trend, Managing High-Stress Situations, and More

This year’s event, which takes place Aug. 15-17 in Chicago, also includes a free workshop on what you might do when starting your business over from scratch.

Read More
Latest Stories

July 11, 2017

Grower-Retailers Invited to Help Pick Their Favorite Pr…

The Garden Center Group is inviting grower-retailers to join them on their quest to highlight the best new retail products on display at Cultivate’17.

Read More
Hort Couture Farm to Table Display

July 7, 2017

New Marketing and Retail Display Ideas to Boost Your P…

Innovative marketing displays and retail concepts at California Spring Trials 2017, inspired by popular consumer trends and the need to encourage consumer success, overflowed with exciting new ways to promote plants.

Read More

June 19, 2017

IGC Show Features Talks on How to Cash in on the Buy Lo…

This year’s event, which takes place Aug. 15-17 in Chicago, also includes a free workshop on what you might do when starting your business over from scratch.

Read More
Robert O'Neill

May 11, 2017

Former SEAL Team Six Leader to Address Attendees at IGC…

Robert O’Neill is a highly decorated combat veterans and the author of the just-published memoir, “The Operator: Firing the Shots That Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior.”

Read More

April 24, 2017

Ian Baldwin Offers Examples From Grower-Retailers on Pr…

In March, Baldwin wrote a blog advising grower-retailers to consider raising their prices this spring. The post inspired a number of creative suggestions.

Read More
Ian Baldwin

March 31, 2017

Ian Baldwin: Aim High With Your Pricing This Spring

In his latest blog posting, the garden retail consultant says consumers are spending more today, which means it’s a good time to consider raising your prices.

Read More
GCA Summer Tour 2017 Andersons Newport Beach

March 23, 2017

Garden Centers of America Unveils Stops on Its Summer T…

Registration for the event, which includes visits to several garden centers each with their own unique highlights, is now open.

Read More
MSU Guide To Attracting Pollinators

March 9, 2017

New Guide on Bee-Friendly Plants Available From Horticu…

The guide is designed to help grower-retailers educate and motivate their customers to purchase and plant pollinator-friendly materials.

Read More
Grapevine Balls, Glass House, and Galvanized Dish Gardens (Flori-Design, Inc.)

March 6, 2017

Cool Product Awards from Garden Retailers Announced at …

This year’s Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) once again served as a great spot for the Cool Product Awards, an annual collaboration between TPIE, Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association, and The Garden Center Group.

Read More
Nursery Photo

March 6, 2017

How Great Photos Can Help You Sell More Plants

More consumers than ever want to see what a product looks like before they buy it, and that includes plants. Here are some tips on taking top-notch photos at your nursery or garden center.

Read More

February 28, 2017

Registration Now Open For IGC Show in Chicago

Find out how you can save on early registration, and get a sneak peek at what’s new at this year’s event aimed at independent garden centers.

Read More

February 21, 2017

Ian Baldwin: 2017 is Off to a Strong Start For Plant Re…

Many garden retailers are telling garden retail consultant Ian Baldwin that sales and the consumer’s attitude toward spending have been very strong the last two months.

Read More
Summerwinds Proven Winners display FEATURE

February 17, 2017

Proven Winners Makes Improvements to Its Retailer Certi…

Understanding the challenges of training new and seasonal staff at independent garden centers, Proven Winners says it is working to equip managers with tools to prepare their employees to better handle customers’ questions and boost their confidence in selling plants this season.

Read More
TPIE 2017 tradeshow floor

February 14, 2017

Trendsetting Products and Ideas From TPIE 2017

If you're a trend watcher, the 2017 Tropical Plant Exhibition, held in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, on January 18-20, was a can't-miss event. In case you missed it, here are a few highlights of the cool products, trends, and ideas seen at the show.

Read More
Plant in box for Amazon feature image

February 6, 2017

Amazon is Coming to Plant Retail; Here’s What it …

Plant e-commerce may finally take off soon. The question is, are you ready?

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

February 6, 2017

GrowIt! App Now Offers a Listing of Independent Garden …

The team behind GrowIt!, the app designed to help connect consumers with plants, has launched a new platform that allows independent garden centers to sign up to be a “Garden Shop,” helping new gardeners and community members find garden centers in their specific areas.

Read More
Monrovia Trends Floratourism

January 26, 2017

9 Trends That Could Influence Gardening in 2017

From color-changing conifers to smaller-sized luxury looks, plant experts at Monrovia predict nine trends that will drive consumers to do more gardening this year.

Read More
Bundle Pricing sign at Farmington Gardens

December 23, 2016

It’s Official: Growers Stink At Pricing Plants

The industry’s first pricing survey exposes serious problems in how plants are priced. It’s past time for us to change that.

Read More