Garden Retail 2012: Observations In Charlotte, N.C.

The Flip-It tomato

The weather on Saturday, April 28, 2012, was overcast and in the low 60s (farenheit). This obviously impacted the shopper turnout, which was extremely low and very disappointing. However, on Sunday the 29th the sun came out and the temperatures zoomed into the low 80s by afternoon; stores were filled with shoppers.

Lowe’s

In Charlotte you will find some of the best Lowe’s garden centers in the country. This quality is driven by a combination of a very relevant assortment of products, crack merchandising and very consistent product quality with a lot of color, or as I prefer to say, “The WOW Factor.”  One often neglected part of merchandising is customer interaction, but in the Charlotte store it appears to be SOP. Merchandisers constantly assist consumers by answering their questions and making a lot of suggestions. This obviously leads towards both higher sales and customer satisfaction.

On the product side, Metrolina Greenhouses always seems to have a few new and innovative items each year. Some of the interesting merchandise this year was:

  • Flip-IT hanging bucket tomato. Consisting of a bucket with a handle, the tomato is planted in the bottom and can be attached to any hanging device by the handle
  • 2-gallon vase planter in a deep burgundy color — a very classy look at retail
  • 1.5-gallon wall planter
  • 8-gallon patio pot retailing for $49.98. It looks like a value and is usually displayed by the front entrance of each garden center
  • 3-quart planter called Sunken Treasures in an unusual shape that attracts a lot of attention
  • And my favorite — a pepper program in a 12” color pot with a cage, below a banner that says, “The Color of the Pot Tells You How Hot.”  There are four colors indicating the various degrees of heat: green for mild, yellow for medium, orange for hot, red for very hot.

Lowe’s offered a nice array of patio pots in price points from $6.98 for a 3-quart Color Pot to $49.98 for the huge 8-gallon. The patio containers were very colorful, and the recipes they used bloomed consistently.

Home Depot

Home Depot carries a larger inventory of woody items that seems larger than the other national retailers. It also has a much larger offering of roses, especially the Knock Out brand. In the annual category Home Depot continues to focus on the premium items in the Viva, Proven Winners and Vigoro lines. Basic annuals were a big category with the 606 on sale at 4 for $5, and large quantities of 4.5 “and T-18 trays were evident in each store. It appears that the Viva Big Red Geranium (Calliope) is doing well with good inventories in every store we visited.

A standout program was the perennials supplied by Stacy’s Greenhouses, which was highlighted by great packaging that includes large, informative labels. Stacy’s arguably displays a higher percentage of perennials in flower at the point of purchase than most perennial producers. Clearly Stacy’s knows that color sells.  When you couple this with really good merchandising, it results in a first-class program. They make good use of colored containers, especially in the 8” and 10” sizes.

Walmart

We visited really great stores with a nice assortment of products all in good color.  We especially noted that the stores are well merchandised with well-organized and creative displays. Between the Atlanta stores and the Charlotte stores, Metrolina Greenhouses clearly is a first-class vendor.  Somehow, they get things accomplished in each store that others struggle with. Whatever they do, it results in putting good, consistent products on the shelves in stores with well-merchandised displays. It appeared that they had much higher customer traffic than any area I have visited.

Some of the best patio pots were in the Walmart stores. A 14” container retailing for $29.95 was one of the most colorful combos we have seen this season. The two recipes that really stood out were Fire & Ice and Hot pink Jazz.  Another item that really looked outstanding was the Calliope geranium in a 12” patio pot retailing for $14.98 — a great value.

The Better Homes & Gardens program was well executed, although you wonder about the recipes consisting mostly of yellows and orchid shades. The packaging and POS materials seemed to all blend together to create a separate identity for the program.

Pike Nursery

As in Atlanta, their Charlotte store is very well organized and has been nicely upgraded since Armstrong Gardens took over. They are real plant people specializing in green goods, not hard goods. Pike does not have huge stacks of bagged goods but focuses on selling plants with a highly trained and knowledgeable staff.

They seem to be more focused on the whole outdoor garden, not just bedding plants and perennials.  They have a large space devoted to trees and shrubs but do have a nice assortment of annuals. Pike has large displays of Monrovia-branded products including a lot of Monrovia perennials. All in all, this store was a first-class, well-managed independent garden center.

Costco

Costco seems more focused on large evergreens and roses than annuals, but they did have an assortment of patio pots and potted annuals:

  • 3-gallon Knock Out — $12.99
  • 12” baskets — $15.99
  • 12” patio pot — $15.99
  • 8-pack 5.5”annuals — 11.99
  • 10-pack 4.5” annuals — 19.99
  • 12” hydrangea — $19.99 (With 10-12 flowers, this was a great value.)
  • 2-gallon calla lilies — $15.99

Sam’s Club

One store had built an outdoor corral in the parking lot with a lot of merchandise on display:

  • T-18 annuals — $10.95
  • 12” caged tomato — $9.98
  • 10” premium hanging basket — $8.98
  • 10” hanging fern basket — $9.98
  • 3-gallon peppers, staked — $12.98
  • 1-gallon Mandavilla ‘Sun Parasol’  — $7.98
  • 10” Mandavilla ‘Sun Parasol’ trellis — $18.88
  • 10”-square patio gerbera — $12.98
Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Garden Retail 2012: Observations In Charlotte, N.C.

  1. Are the places you list really garden centers or just places that sell garden supplies and plants. Do we see the owners on the shop floor. Who grows the plants? How is the customer service? How many garden center events do they hold? How does listing the prices tell me anything about how the retail ceters operate as a business? What about the many other independent garden centers in the area

  2. You are correct – this is not an all-inclusive look at everything about these businesses. It is meant to be a snapshot of some of the bigger stores and the programs they are offering, as well as to give an idea of pricing in those stores. It's just a piece of the puzzle. You are correct, customer service, events and the knowledge of employees etc. are all important; this article was not intended to delve into all of that.

More From State of the Industry...
Laura Drotleff

January 19, 2018

Greenhouse Industry’s Positive Momentum Looks Like it Will Carry Into 2018

Results from Greenhouse Grower's 2018 State of the Industry survey show that growers increased profits in 2017 by raising prices and paying more attention to their operational costs.

Read More
Plants-and-Money

January 5, 2018

State of the Greenhouse Industry: Dealing With Your Banks in 2018 Will Take Patience

Financial institutions are still reluctant to part with capital for agricultural and horticultural growth, despite economic indicators. Here’s why banks have raised the bar on lending.

Read More
Capitol-Building

December 28, 2017

State of the Greenhouse Industry: Regulatory Uncertainty Means It’s Time to Get Involved

With election dynamics, a new farm bill, and pending immigration reform in the mix, 2018 looks to be a wait-and-see year for the horticulture industry.

Read More
Latest Stories
Laura Drotleff

January 19, 2018

Greenhouse Industry’s Positive Momentum Looks Like it W…

Results from Greenhouse Grower's 2018 State of the Industry survey show that growers increased profits in 2017 by raising prices and paying more attention to their operational costs.

Read More
Plants-and-Money

January 5, 2018

State of the Greenhouse Industry: Dealing With Your Ban…

Financial institutions are still reluctant to part with capital for agricultural and horticultural growth, despite economic indicators. Here’s why banks have raised the bar on lending.

Read More
Capitol-Building

December 28, 2017

State of the Greenhouse Industry: Regulatory Uncertaint…

With election dynamics, a new farm bill, and pending immigration reform in the mix, 2018 looks to be a wait-and-see year for the horticulture industry.

Read More

December 9, 2017

Southern California Wildfires Narrowly Miss Most Grower…

Here’s an update on horticulture businesses in the areas affected by the California wildfires.

Read More
Biocontrols in a Greenhouse

November 3, 2017

Take Greenhouse Grower’s 2018 State of the Indust…

Growers and others associated with the greenhouse business often ask the Greenhouse Grower editorial staff where we get ideas for stories. The Answer: You! That's why we're asking you to please take some time to answer our annual State of the Industry survey.

Read More

November 1, 2017

Technology Is Changing the Game for Growers

Technology is sexy. There’s a fervor associated with buying the latest go-go-gadget — and a fear of missing out if we don’t. We all want that latest, most advanced smartphone, home assistant, or wearable tech, no matter the cost. And jobs associated with technology? Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter — offer some of the most competitive and coveted positions on the planet. Just look at the stir Amazon made when it announced it would build a $50 billion second headquarters, with cities from all over North America clamoring to be the one chosen, considering the significant economic potential. Technology and tech jobs are it — and it’s no wonder growers don’t feel jobs in horticulture can compete. But what if they can? If tech jobs are the future and the future of horticulture depends on technology, then we have a real opportunity to seize. Millennials who have grown up […]

Read More

May 23, 2017

USDA-APHIS Bulletin on Unauthorized Distribution of Gen…

On May 2, 2017, USDA-APHIS was informed that an orange petunia variety was potentially genetically engineered and had been imported and moved interstate without required authorization by APHIS. This led to testing of numerous petunia varieties, which confirmed this particular variety and several others are genetically engineered, and meet the regulatory definition of a regulated article under APHIS regulations. APHIS continues to work with the industry to ensure unauthorized GE petunias are not distributed in the United States.

Read More

March 2, 2017

Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Whitepaper Avai…

This year’s survey featured a record 975 respondents and tackled topics such as sales trends, technology, major industry challenges and opportunities, and much more.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Webinar

February 27, 2017

State of the Industry Webinar Available for On-Demand V…

The half-hour presentation includes an analysis of Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State of the Industry survey, along with insights from horticulture industry leaders.

Read More

February 11, 2017

Poinsettia Survey Reveals Growers Increased Poinsettia …

On average, growers responding to Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Poinsettia Survey said the poinsettia season was “good,”Here’s a glance at the outlook for poinsettias in the marketplace.

Read More

January 25, 2017

59 New Members of Congress Need to Hear from You, SAF S…

Retailers, wholesalers, suppliers, and growers coming to the Society of American Florists' (SAF) 37th Annual Congressional Action Days, March 13-14 in Washington, DC, have a lot of explaining to do. There are 59 new congressmen and senators on Capitol Hill, and this freshmen class needs a lesson about floriculture.

Read More
bouldin-lawson-pro-sticking-line-at-north-creek-nurseries

January 25, 2017

State of the Industry 2017: Growers are Ready to Invest…

Greenhouse Grower's 2017 State of the Industry Survey revealed that grower investment in technology is imminent due to the cost and availability of labor, to improve efficiency, expand their growing operations, and allow employees to concentrate on higher value jobs that are less labor-intensive.

Read More

January 24, 2017

Growers are an Aging Demographic, 2017 State of the Ind…

Owners and upper management of growing operations in the horticulture industry, not unlike others in agriculture, are aging, according to Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State of the Industry Survey.

Read More
Biocontrols and beneficials absolutely can be used in outdoor production, with the use of banker plant systems

January 24, 2017

Growers Becoming More Sustainable but Most Think Climat…

Greenhouse Grower's 2017 State of the Industry Survey revealed that growers are adopting biocontrols and organic production, yet 58% of growers said they don't believe humans can control climate change.

Read More

January 24, 2017

State of the Industry Survey Says 2017 Will be a Year o…

Growers, suppliers, and researchers who took Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State Of The Industry Survey say they are ready to drive change and profitability in horticultural businesses.

Read More
Moana plant yard

January 4, 2017

Green Industry Poised for Continued Economic Growth in …

Positive economic indicators point to 2017 being a year of modest growth for the green industry, according to economist Charlie Hall.

Read More

January 3, 2017

Growing Optimism for the Horticulture Industry in 2017

With a new administration and a new Congress, AmericanHort's Craig Regelbrugge says the horticulture industry has reason to be cautiously optimistic that regulatory relief could be on the horizon.

Read More
Bees on flowers

October 11, 2016

Bees Endangered? Here’s The Rest Of The Story

Recently, mainstream media reported that certain bee species have been placed on the endangered species list, but the situation isn’t as dire as one might think.

Read More