October 24, 2012

Garden Retail 2012: Observations In Baltimore

The weather was perfect for shopping and gardening in Baltimore on May 12 and 13, 2012, with temperatures in the 60s during the mornings and hitting in the low 80s by afternoon with very low humidity. Shoppers were out in full force and the store traffic was really heavy. Finally, after several cold, wet weekends, the Baltimore market has opened and what timing: Mother’s Day weekend. Home Depot These garden centers are clearly some of the best, if not the best, in the country for Home Depot. There are few competitive stores in the same league. Here is what we observed that makes these stores so outstanding. The number-one reason is the quality of people in this vendor’s merchandising team. I have never seen merchandisers that are seemingly as consumed by their jobs and who work so hard to keep the displays organized, watered and very shoppable We had the […]

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October 24, 2012

Garden Retail 2012: Observations in Philadelphia

The weather was cool and overcast in Philadephia on May 5 and 6, 2012, with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s in the mornings and the mid-to-high 60s during the day, with no sun until late afternoon on Sunday. Overall it was a disappointing weekend with consumer traffic far below norm for a May weekend. It seems like the consumers in the Northeast will not garden until they see a warm sunny day. Home Depot You will not see any better merchandising at store level than the Bell Nursery team of highly trained professionals that are dedicated to serving Home Depot and the consumers. This group is so interested they never miss a chance to interact with a consumer. The management structure of the merchandising group allows for a lot of support and allows for the field management people to make decisions on replenishment The other big thing that Bell does […]

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October 20, 2012

Garden Retail 2012: Observations From Columbus, Ohio

The weather was ideal May 25-26, 2012, with temperatures in the 80s, moderate humidity and sunshine – perfect for gardening. The stores were very busy especially on Saturday, May 26, with consumers anxious to start their spring planting. The edible displays were particularly busy as interest in that category continues to grow – although it is somewhat surprising that Bonnie Plants seemed to be the only real organized brand with great distribution. It supplied all three national retailers with seemingly no challengers. Home Depot As we observed in Baltimore and Philadelphia, Home Depot has spectacular stores offering great products and even better merchandising, both supplied by Bell Nursery. These stores all had annuals and perennials with far more color than the competition leading back to the old basic axiom that “color sells.” Color really sells when you combine the WOW factor with great merchandising executed by passionate, well-trained and highly […]

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October 20, 2012

Garden Retail 2012: Observations In Cleveland, Ohio

The weather was warm on May 27 and 28, 2012, in the 80s, and the shoppers were out in force buying plants and a lot of related garden items. It should have been a great retail weekend for growers and retailers. This is another market where Home Depot is the most dominant, displaying good-quality green goods in conjunction with very good merchandising. Cleveland is also the home of Petitti Garden Centers, a family-owned group of nine garden centers throughout northeastern Ohio and one of the leading independents in North America. Petitti opened new locations over the past three years, an indication of how a well-managed independent garden center can survive and flourish during these times. If you want to visit garden centers that know how to sell plants, this is the place to go. Petitti Garden Centers I had the pleasure of visiting two Petitti stores in Mentor and in […]

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September 27, 2012

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

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, […]

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September 26, 2012

Garden Retail 2012: Observations On Spring From Jerry Montgomery

After enduring the spring of 2011 — arguably one of the worst years weather-wise in the past two decades — 2012 brought a spark back to the industry. A number of areas, especially in parts of the West, encountered really good weather. Other areas had a good start with many reporting record sales in March, only to see cold and rain return in April and erratic weather patterns in May. But when the weather was decent, consumers were out in force. Our team has visited 5012 garden centers since 2005. During this spring season, we visited 412 — boxes and independents — in California, the deep South, Mid-South, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. Here are the trends we saw this year. Retailers At most retailers we visited we saw fewer employees than in previous years. The exception was in independents where we observed more staff on the sales floor. A good example […]

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May 25, 2012

Big Box Comparison

From Lowe’s to Home Depot, not all big-box offerings are the same. In this side-by-side comparison, growers see which parts of the country boast the best Walmart stores. Southern California As always, of the big boxes and chains, Walmart had the lowest prices and the smallest inventories of green goods. This year, however, it is launching the Better Homes & Gardens-branded annual program. The first product is an 8-inch combination consisting of two petunias and one bacopa. It retails for $5.98, the same price point as the Dümmen 8-inch Confetti. The recipe was not very colorful, and in some stores, the petunias overgrew the bacopa, but all in all, a very reasonable price point. The container was a dark, lime green with a lot of print, including planting instructions. One noticeable change from last year is Bonnie Plants has regained all of the vegetable space back from the generic market […]

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April 25, 2012

Store Displays, Customer Service & Pricing In Atlanta Retailer Locations

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. […]

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April 17, 2012

Store Displays, Customer Service & Pricing In Southern Florida Retailer Locations

The temperatures were ideal with days in the high-70s and nights in the mid-60s, but there was some intermittent rainfall.  The stores were jammed with product. April 7 was a strong retail day with good, but not overwhelming, consumer traffic. Flamingo Road Nursery Davis, Fla., however, had so many cars it took me 15 minutes to finds a parking spot. It was by far the busiest garden center of the more than 30 visited. The tables in most garden centers were still fairly full, possibly with the exception of hanging baskets where we saw a lot of empty basket lines.  It seemed to me that traditional bedding plants were not that strong, especially seed grown basic annuals, and that many shopping carts had more of the premium items along with landscape foliage plants. The vegetable displays were not as busy as one would expect this time of year, and it […]

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April 10, 2012

Store Displays, Customer Service & Pricing In Southern California Retailer Locations

The weather was cool and overcast, recording 60s during the day and 40s at night. All retailers were well stocked and ready to handle large customer volumes. It rained on March 23, so it was not surprising to see low traffic counts in most retailers, with the exception of Armstrong Gardens at their Flower Fields location. In paying attention to how personnel interaction affects the customer experience, it was disappointing overall to observe how few employees greeted the customers. Only 20 percent actually interacted with the customers, although a much greater percent did at Walmart. At the one Armstrong store on the tour, all the employees in the selling areas interacted with every customer they passed. Home Depot Home Depot has two new and interesting programs: Bloomtastic A program of perennials, roots and soft woody items positioned as premium items with a fairly aggressive price point of $11.98 for an […]

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March 16, 2011

Walmart Buyer Joins Medal Of Excellence Panel

We have a new panelist representing big-box retailers on our Medal of Excellence panel, which selects the best new introductions from the California Spring Trials–Michele Radecki of Walmart. This is the ninth year we’ve had a well-rounded industry panel select the finalists and winner of our Industry’s Choice award for breeding. Most of our big box panelists have been from The Home Depot, starting with Vinny Naab and then followed by Bob Sedlatschek and Brian Parker. In addition to being a live plants buyer for Walmart for four years, Radecki worked as an account sales manager for one of the largest growers for 10 years–Kurt Weiss Greenhouses. She received her horticultural credentials from SUNY Farmingdale, which also happens to be Naab’s alma mater. Our panelists will be visiting the California Spring Trials stops between March 26 and April 1. When they return, they will each identify their top five new […]

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