What Is The Place Of The Box Store In Horticulture: OFA Town Hall Meeting

What Is The Place Of The Box Store In Horticulture: OFA Town Hall Meeting

The Grower Town Hall at OFA Short Course took a critical look into the relationship between the larger and smaller growers and the retailers they serve. The audience asked questions of a panel of Hort Couture’s Jim Monroe, Bemis Farms’ Tina Bemis, Bell Nursery’s Gary Mangum and Metrolina’s Art Van Wingerden.

An audience member asked about the strengths of the box stores, what they offer to customers and what they contribute to the horticulture industry. Here’s how that conversation flowed.


– They offer buying power and advertising. Whether we like it or not, it’s part of the planting season for the consumer. People who see the big box commercials make it into the independent garden center eventually. It’s a cause and effect benefit.

– Vendor-controlled merchandising. You’re controlling your own destiny about what product looks like in the store. The box stores carry so many categories and plants benefit from the impulse purchases that come with high store traffic. We’re the kings of impulse purchases.

– When asked why they don’t shop at independent garden centers, younger shoppers say they’re scared by the knowledge of the IGCs. They’re overwhelmed by the knowledge of the garden experts there. We need to learn how to market and talk to Generations X and Y about gardening.

– Continuing on making horticulture accessible, research shows that 95 percent of gardeners say they want to see common names of plants on signage, not Latin names. Of the remaining 5 percent, 2 percent say I don’t care. Only 3 percent want to see Latin names.

– Thank God box stores are out there with television ads. Independents can’t afford that kind of advertising and can’t seem to collaborate on it. The box store isn’t necessarily the enemy. The enemy is apathy. People aren’t gardening anymore. There are other ways they’re spending their disposable income. If we get them started with gardening, however, we can educate and take them to the next level. Many gardeners don’t have all the information they need because education has been dumbed down for the lady who just wants to use plants to decorate. 

What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.