19 May Of Garden Centers, Garivalias, and Great Plants
Each May, I make my annual pilgrimage to Minneapolis’ best independent garden centers, including Wagners, Tangletown Gardens, Mother Earth, to name a few. My goals?
- To identify and procure newly introduced annuals, perennials and shrubs for my garden.
- To see how independent garden centers are competing with big box home centers such as Menards, Home Depot and Lowes.
This year, it occurred to me that there is a lot to observe and learn among these smaller businesses as they compete with the big boxes in a selling season that’s compressed into a few short weeks.
Many homeowners in North America have eschewed independent garden centers because of price, convenience, limited product assortments, etc. The smarter independent garden centers have transformed themselves to not only survive – but thrive.
So what have they done to transform themselves? Below are some strategies that merit mention. For brevity, I’ll focus on Wagners and how they merchandise one of my new favorite plants – the Garivalia Gerbera Daisy. (I originally learned about this plant during the California Spring Trials event that happens each April in Northern and Southern California. See our blog HERE for more information on that event.)
- Differentiate product assortments. Many garden centers offer premium plant varieties that aren’t scalable to grow and sell at a mass merchant. For example, Wagners carries varieties with the best genetics. Case in point: in-ground Garivalia Gerbera Daisies that are recognized as the premier variety by many horticulturalists.
- Tell the product story to customers. The team at Wagners is knowledgeable and quick to tell the story that Garivalia Gerbera Daisies have the most blooms and continue to bloom even during the dog days of summer when most Gerbera daisy varieties die off. A well-informed sales staff establishes relationships to nurture returning customers.
- Grow their own products instead of sourcing them. Wagners continues to grow its own plants unlike some larger independent garden centers. The green house managers are masterful at growing large plants (Garivalia Gerbera Daisies, Wasabi Coleus, Dragonwing Begonia to name a few) that look spectacular at retail. Because plants aren’t stressed during transport, they look great and grow strong. This is an even bigger plus for consumers who are interested in buying local. Again, there is a story to tell here and
- Refuse to play the price game. Wagners grows out its Garivalias so they’re triple the size of the $5.99 premium annuals sold at Home Depot, Lowes and Menards. Wagners sells each Garivalia plant for a whopping $12.99. If you can believe it, most of the Garivalia plants that Wagners grows are sold out before Mother’s Day.
- Offer immediate payoffs to loyal customers. Wagners offers $10 gift cards at different levels of purchase. Rather than relying on email to send out electronic codes for purchase, customers get the cards immediately at the cash register after reaching purchase thresholds in the same way Target Stores disperses their promotional gift cards. Doing so puts a reminder in the customer’s wallet and helps to keep your brand top of mind.
For more information, contact Mike Reiber at firstname.lastname@example.org