Here in the United States, there’s a vibrant industry of small, independently-owned garden centers and nurseries. Usually, they are family businesses.
Consumers shop at the big box retail stores when looking for mulch or basic annuals like marigolds. But if you’re an avid gardener or discerning homeowner looking for something special, then the independent garden centers and small nurseries are what you seek out.
Well-run garden centers are one of the retail segments that can still have an advantage over the big box stores. From a customer perspective, these independent garden centers win hands down when it comes to product selection, quality, customer service, and enjoyable shopping experience.
That’s because smaller garden centers are better at offering a wide variety of unusual plants, interesting statuary and the best color/plant selections in annuals and perennials — along with providing personalized help and great service. Plus the plants are better-taken care of and more likely to survive.
Yes — quality, product mix, customer service — they matter to customers. It doesn’t always just come down to price — which is where the big box garden centers compete.
Small-business Garden Retailers
Recently I gave an interview to Garden Center magazine. Turns out — Brent Leary (part of our Small Business Trends Expert Network) was also interviewed by Sarah Martinez, Garden Center assistant editor, in the same article. The topic was whether small-business garden retailers should use social media. Our collective conclusion: maybe. Blogs are a good first step. Beyond that, pick and choose which social media vehicles you use based on where you’re likely to find customers participating — it’s not one size fits all.
You can read the article here (each page is a separate PDF): Do Retailers Belong in Social Networks? Page 1, Page 2, and Page 3.
I also discovered that Garden Center magazine runs a blog for the garden retail community. In it, they have been giving updates concerning Todd and Barbara Bachman, the American couple stabbed at the 2008 Olympics. The Bachmans own a chain of 19 garden centers in Minnesota. The Garden Center blog points out one benefit of a family business with loyal employees — when a tragedy happens, employees step up to the plate to keep the business running. It’s all due to the fact that the Bachmans created a succession plan a decade ago. Score one for succession planning …
Good that a succession plan is created a decade ago because without it – can cause clashes of views and agendas which can pull the business in several directions and this may wreck an otherwise viable business.
That’s an interesting concept and one that I’m sure would give all parties involved a roadmap for the future. Interesting read.
I have a handful of local family owned nurseries that I faithfully go to every spring for all of my annuals. They have so much more variety and the plants always look healthier. If these nurseries I visit would have blogs, I would read them often. I think that is a good idea to stay connected with your consumers. They could post growing and fertilizing tips and feature their newest plants.
Anita you were spot-on with our collective conclusion. I’m just glad the folks Sarah didn’t ask me a gardening question. Whe it comes to gardening and landscaping, I have a SORE thumb.
Interesting to hear about this type of specialization. I will tell my mother about this. She likes gardening and she is a member of an amateur botanical association. I don’t have “green fingers” (green thumb) as we say in Swedish, but I have enjoyed to test to get my own chile pepper plants growing. This year the plants have been growing and growing, but I haven’t seen any chile pepper fruits yet. I have got several peppers from a plant I bought at a botanical fair this summer. I hope I will get some paprika fruits later on.
Social networks can be effective marketing tools. I use them to promote my posts. I think social networking works very well for bloggers. For business, social networking should be one of several approaches to promote business but NOT THE ONLY APPROACH.
Another thing is convenience. I don’t know of any nearby local nursery and HomeDepot and OSH are much more convenient although I would love to support a local small business.