Anniversary & Expansion

By Abby KIeckler, managing editor, Lawn & Garden Retailer

In this industry, there is no shortage of incredible family stories, and Wasson Nursery in Indiana is one of them. This garden center may not be the oldest one out there, and it may not have third, fourth or fifth generations taking the reigns (yet), but don’t let that fool you.

Dan Wasson Sr. started the business in 1977, and, with the help of sons Dan Jr. and Bob, the business opened its second location in 2008 followed by its third location this spring.

After spending a few hours at the grand opening of its newest garden center in Fishers, Indiana, I have one word to describe Wasson Nursery: momentum.

After the event I caught up with Bob Wasson, president of operations, to share a little bit more about the history of the business and why now was a great time to expand.

L&GR: Celebrating 40 years in business is a huge milestone. Can you discuss how you have gone from one location to three?

Bob Wasson: My dad started the business in 1977 in Union City, Indiana, which is a tiny, tiny town — it now has a population around 3,000 — that’s where he still lives and the original office is. We still do landscaping and lawn care and just a little bit of retail out of that store.

In the ‘90s, the Muncie area was starting to get built up and new home construction was on the rise. Dan and I had just graduated college, and we decided to build a new store in the Muncie area because that’s where all of our traffic was from.

So, in 2008, the height of the economic downturn, we opened up in Muncie a 10-acre garden center/nursery that complemented our landscaping services. It was kind of a scary time to open up a new store. Obviously we didn’t plan for the economy taking a turn for the worse, but 2008 was our best year ever up to that point and then going forward, each consecutive year has been our best year ever.

It was a great move to open that store up. Eventually we added more landscaping crews and then some of our other services to be routed out of that Muncie office, which now that office is our home base. It’s kind of our corporate headquarters.

The business has continued to grow, and it’s allowed us to expand down to the Fishers area where once again we were following the same strategies.

There’s a lot more construction going on in the Hamilton County area than in the area surrounding Muncie and Yorktown where our current store was, so we’re kind of following the traffic and took a lot of stuff that we learned from opening up the Muncie garden center and applied it to the Fishers store.

Fishers has a lot more of a focus on outdoor living and fine gardening and indoor décor as well. Our whole goal behind the garden center is that we obviously want it to be a profitable business in and of itself, but our whole concept is we want to set it up to draw in customers and show them the cool landscaping-type work that we can do and convert these garden center customers into landscaping customers as well.

L&GR: For the grand opening event, you brought in local wineries, breweries, bands and more. Do you plan on continuing these local partnerships throughout the year?

Wasson: What I want to spend the most marketing dollars on is getting people into the store. I think probably the best way to do that is to spend that money on the events and make each event a really cool experience that people are going to have a great time at and go back and tell five friends about how neat the place was, how pretty it was and how much cool product we had.

I think there’s a lot better return on investment with your advertising/marketing dollars that you spend on actual events and customer experience versus throwing an ad in the newspaper or throwing an ad on a billboard. I feel like you’re wasting half your money — and you don’t know what half — when you do that kind of stuff.

With the events, you get actual feedback from customers. You get people tagging themselves on social media and sharing with their friends. And it’s not just the customers that come in but these breweries, wineries and bands too. They’re all telling their friends, family and fans on social media what they’re doing and where they are.

It expands exposure, and of course they’re going to promote the fact they’re out there at our store. It’s this network of community members that are all promoting the same event and you’ve got the power of leverage.

I love events, and that’s kind of our theme in Fishers. We want to do at least two big events a month. It’s just all about creating a customer experience.

Something we harp to our staff all the time is it’s all about reactions over transactions, so that customer experience is more important than any sale. I’d rather have someone come in and have a good experience.

(Article provided by Lawn & Garden Retailer)

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Order Now Using Program Number: E74E1

Over 40 New Exhibitors To Debut At Arett’s 2017 Open House

The following new exhibitors will be featured at the 2017 Arett Open House. These vendors will be offering a variety of exciting new products to Arett’s already extensive Open House selection, including garden decor, planters, growing media, birding, raised garden beds, fertilizer, gardening books, gardening sunglasses, traps, repellents, hose reels, and much, much more.

Don’t miss your chance to visit these booths and see the new merchandise in person. Register now for the 2017 Arett Open House at

Exhibitor #ExhibitorProduct Category
--American Wood FibersFirewood
C99CookinaGrill Accessories
C63Cutler Communications2-Way Radios
D22Devco Anywhere FireplaceGarden Decor
E94Earth Alive Clean TechnologiesSoil Activator
E95EcoClear ProductsRodent Control
E92EZ NectarHummingbird
--Global Vision EyewhereGardening Sunglasses
G98Green Earth TechnologiesInsect Traps
G95GrowScriptsPlant Care Fertilizer
H22Harbor GardensGarden Decor
--HomeBoxIndoor Gardening
--Kness Pest DefenseRodent Control
--Knobleworm OrganicsEarthworm Castings
L30Liberty GardenHose Reels
--Love GreenSeed Starting
M96MPM Pan Pacific Inc - GonzoMole Traps
--Murphy's NaturalsMosquito Repellent
--Old Truck OrganicsOrganic Fertilizer
O99Organic Ag ProductsPlant Care Fertilizer
P97Pest WizardInsect Traps
P94PittMossGrowing Media
--Plant ScaperPlant Support System
P58Plant Revolution Inc. - Plant SuccessOrganic Fertilizer
--Precious MomentsGarden Decor
K55Skyhorse PublishingGardening Books
D80ASouthern PatioChimineas & Fire Pits
S93Srills ProductsAll Natural Controls
S97Sun Bulb Company (Better Gro)Plant Fertilizer & Growing Media
--Sunlight SupplyIndoor Gardening
G04SureCanGas Can
S96SustaneOrganic Fertilizer
--TenaxFencing & Netting
T95Think OutsideVietnemese Metal Art
--Tick KeyTick Removal Tool
T75Timber BayGarden Decor
T12Tree DiaperTree Watering
--Turf TrustFertilizer
B67BUneak ProductsRaised Bed Gardens
V14VegepodRaised Bed Gardens
W82Wild Valley FarmsAll Natural Fertilizer

Reserve Your Seat Now For These Open House Special Events!

Arett U Presents:
Kick Off Keynote & Brunch
High Performance Leadership: Engaging the Generational Workforce

How to Apply Leadership Principals to Improve Employee Engagement and Build a Better Culture for Growth and Profitability
Speaker: Jason Young
Location: Atlantic City Convention Center – Rooms 411/412
Date: Sunday Sept. 10, 2017
Time: Brunch served at 11 AM / Presentation starts 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Enjoy an inspirational encounter with Jason Young, a former senior-level manager at Southwest Airlines and a “rare breed” when it comes to developing leaders and customer service initiatives. Participants will be treated to a compelling experience that will change the way they view themselves, their customers and their company. Jason will offer insights and practical information that can be implemented immediately.

ARETT U Presents:
Are You Leaving Dollars on the Table, Shelf or Pallet?

Speaker: Ian Baldwin
Location: Atlantic City Convention Center – Rooms 411/412
Date: Monday, Sept. 11, 2017
Time: 8:00am – 9:00am
Light breakfast served starting at 7:30 AM
Learn how to succeed with your product and your brand. Your customers will be thrilled, proud and come back to do more, spend more. Ian will address how can people be so interested in gardening (More American households (91 million) are involved in gardening than ever before) and so shy in spending (is less than two months cable for most of those households)?

Ian will specifically address:

  • … how success creates customer loyalty.
  • …how to make the most of an interested, educated, time-conscious consumer who does research on-line prior to shopping and then visits your store.
  • … how to leave a customer feeling more confident and excited knowing that the products they bought were tailored to their needs.
  • …how the progressive retailers are moving towards “Solution Selling” with tried and true examples of how even small incremental sales of more “tie-ins” can build out the consumer’s basket AND make them happy!
  • …how to sell the whole “success kit” of hard goods with the plant material!
Arett U Presents:
Lunch & Learn Workshop
De-Mystifying Social Media for IGC’s

Speaker: Laura Munro
Location: Atlantic City Convention Center – Rooms 411/412
Date: Monday Sept. 11, 2017
Time: 12:15 pm
Lunch served. Attendance limited to 150. Reservations required.
Many garden centers are so busy running their business that they neglect a social media presence. If you count yourself among this group, you might want to reconsider. Over 70% of businesses report gaining new customers through Facebook alone. Take an hour out of your Arett Show visit on Monday, Sept. 11th… and while you enjoy lunch, attend a beginner’s social media workshop.

Admission to these special events is FREE to Arett customers. Open House attendees can register for these events at the same time they register for the Open House. To register online, visit

Open House Exhibitor Spotlight: Vegepod

Our Open House ‘Take Flight’ Butterfly is a symbol of a flight towards excellence and innovation to improve our industry and/or our world. As part of the 2017 Open House, we’ll be sharing stories with you from our customers and exhibitors that highlight that spirit of excellence and innovation.

Vegepod  Raised Garden Kits — Grow Veggies The Easy Way‎

Vegepod began eight years ago like any good invention, out of failure and necessity. Matt Harris, inventor and CEO, tried like 80 percent of us at some stage in life to grow and harvest vegetables at home and, again, like the vast majority of those people, kept failing for a variety of reasons.

Harris set out to construct a vegetable garden kit that could go anywhere and solve all problems in one solution. Thus the birth of Vegepod. Eight years on and Vegepods are now being sold in 80% of independent hardware stores and garden centers throughout Australia, plus in several international markets including the UK, USA, Israel, and New Zealand.

Vegepod’s innovation and incomparable gardening success rates were then realized on a winning appearance on “Shark Tank” last year. Naomi Simson jumped on board as an investor and the show created a spike in awareness for Vegepod in Australia.

The real key to Vegepod is that it works. Marketing manager, Simon Holloway, stated at the Vegas hardware that end-users are now enjoying a very mature and refined product unrivalled in its offering.

“Vegepods are not some new fan-dangle product,” Holloway said. “We have tweaked and improved them consistently over the 8 years in all areas, such as core design, materials, packaging, and accessories. We never get a single product returned and also enjoy 20% of our customers returning for a second purchase.”

Vegepods combine several key features in the one solution in what Vegepod claims to be the world’s largest, fully-contained, raised wicking bed. These features include:

  • a deep water reservoir in the base of the containers, allowing ‘self-watering wicking’ to occur and solve under-watering problems, a well directed overflow hole to solve over-watering issues
  • a protection and micro-climate canopy, which has easy-access hinging and prevents all pests, wildlife, and inclement weather from harming plants
  • a mist-spray system inside the roof of the canopy to enable easy and gentle watering connected to a hose
  • a full foot of growing depth to provide a ‘proper’ growing medium for all plants, including root vegetables
  • materials all food-safe grade
  • optional stands or trolleys to raise the pods to waist height for easy access and mobility
  • 3 size options (small, medium and large), flat packed in a surprisingly small box that fits into any car.

Harris relocated his family to California 6 months ago to drive the USA arm of the business. Brother and CFO, Paul Harris, said “We originally tested the market over here by exhibiting at three garden shows for the public. We were ecstatic to see the USA gardener was no different from our Aussie compatriots and we sold out at each show. We have simply been inundated with interest. It’s been a bit overwhelming to be honest and we have a lot of work to do to make sure the Vegepod brand is as highly regarded here as it is in Australia.”

The Vegepod is in a league of its own when it comes to the backyard or patio veggie patch. Stylish, affordable, and, most of all, efficient. You can never offer a guarantee of success when mother nature is involved, but this is definitely the best chance you have.

The Vegepod will be on display at Arett’s 2017 Open House, in Atlantic City from September 10th – 12th.  For more information, or to register for the Open House, visit

Coast of Maine Organics Capitalize On Hydroponics

Arett Outlook: How Did Coast of Maine Get Into The Garden Soil Business?

Coast of Maine: Carlos Quijano founded Coast of Maine Organic Products, Inc in 1996 when doing business consulting work with Great Eastern Mussel Farms. As they struggled to compost their mussel shells Carlos thought, “If we can get the compost process working this would be a terrific garden soil to sell to independent garden centers.”

He reached out to the Maine Compost School and The Maine Organic Farmer’s Association for guidance, as he began the laborious and meticulous process of making sure that every detail was in place to produce the world’s finest quality, organically approved compost blends.

Using the composted mussel shells as the base, the first product Carlos developed was our Penobscot Blend Complete Planting Mix.

That first year Carlos sold 50 pallets of Penobscot Blend to a few specialty, coastal garden centers throughout New England. As organic soil knowledge has evolved and grown with consumers and garden center employees over the last 20 years, Coast of Maine has been able to use an education based process to develop sales to over 2000 retailers from Maine to Florida and as far west as Chicago.

At the same time we were developing deep relationships with our garden center dealers, Coast of Maine has continued to improve our composting processes and create new, unique, organically approved, ocean based products.

Arett Outlook: What products does Coast of Maine offer today?

Coast of Maine: Our product offering now includes 10 soil and compost blends, 5 granular and 4 liquid fertilizer products, 2 enriching mulches as well as a line of traditional mulches.

Arett Outlook: How Has Coast Of Maine Approached The Issue of Growing Medical Cannabis?

Coast of Maine: We began to see West Coast soil companies coming east with a specific focus on growing cannabis. We had a decision to make. Although we were already receiving contact and feedback from medicinal marijuana growers that were using Coast of Maine products to grow cannabis with great success, we weren’t sure how our traditional garden centers would react to us expanding our market share in that way.

The first thing we did was to research cannabis production and states with legal medicinal and recreational laws. The Coast of Maine home state of Maine has a medicinal marijuana program with over 3,000 licensed marijuana caregivers throughout the state.

We hired, Felicia Newman, an organic farmer, with a chemical engineering degree who also has a prescription to grow cannabis.

Felicia studied our current products, the best cannabis soils and read numerous articles and books that focused on organic cannabis production.

With her experience and knowledge, Coast of Maine went about the process of developing and testing a soil blend that would have the ability to take a cannabis plant from seedling to harvest using 15 gallons of soil and no additional fertilizers.

Using the input from over 100 licensed caregivers, Felicia developed our Stonington Blend Platinum Grower’s Mix. (Stonington is a fishing village along the Coast of Maine, and yes, we were very aware of the play on words that usually elicits a hardy chuckle.)

After a few refinements and with the confidence that we have the developed the world’s finest, organically approved cannabis growing compost blend, Coast of Maine began reaching out to our traditional garden center retailers.

We developed a Power Point presentation titled “Capitalize on Cannabis” designed to help garden center owners and employees understand the basic process in growing a cannabis plant, as well as, highlighting what products they might want to sell.

Every garden center should also be asking themselves how this impacts their personal beliefs, how their employees feel about cannabis production, and in what way do they think their customers will react. They should also understand the structure of their state and local municipality laws.

Once the decision is made there is a wealth of information and support within the legal cannabis production community.

Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Arett Sales. We certainly do not endorse the use of or growing of cannabis anywhere it is strictly prohibited by law. In addition to understanding and complying with state law, retailers interested in pursing this line of business should also be aware of current developments in federal law regarding medical marijuana and how the enforcement by the Department of Justice of any changes in those laws  could potentially impact their business.

Order Now Using Program Number: C58E1

Register Now for Arett’s 11th Annual Charity Golf Tournament!

Arett Sales will once again be hosting its annual charity golf tournament to benefit the Angel Flight East organization during this year’s Open House at the Atlantic City Country Club.

Angel Flight East is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free air transportation to qualified patients and their families by arranging flights to distant medical facilities, delivering supplies to disaster areas, and reuniting families during desperate times.

The Angel Flight East volunteer pilots use their private planes to fly patients to their destinations and pay for all expenses for each mission they fly. 42% of all patients flown are children.

Founded in 1992, in response to community needs after Hurricane Andrew, local pilots formed Angel Flight East as a non profit. They flew 17 missions during that first year and have continued to grow the service each year. With more than 425 volunteer pilots based in 22 states, an average of 800 missions are coordinated each year.

As one of America’s oldest and most prestigious golf clubs, Atlantic City Country Club has been home to many firsts, including being the “Birth place of the Birdie.” The course has a tradition of fast and firm greens with uncompromising playing conditions and its bayside setting is reminiscent of the historic links in Scotland and Ireland.

Now is your opportunity to walk in the footsteps of champions on the legendary golf course named the #1 Public/Daily Fee golf Course in the state of New Jersey. Steeped in history and tradition, the Atlantic City Country Club was the birthplace of The PGA Senior Tour and hosted the PGA Inaugural Seniors Tournament in 1980 won by Don January. It has also been the site of several other major events, including the 1901 USGA Amateur and the USGA Women’s Opens in 1948, 1965, and 1975 – won by “Babe” Zaharias, Carol Mann, and Sandra Palmer.

Admission to the tournament is FREE to Arett customers. Prizes are awarded for closest-to-the-pin, hole-in-one, tee-busters, and more! Open House attendees can register for the tournament at the same time they register for the Open House. To register online, visit

Contributions to Angel Flight East are voluntary. To learn more about Angel Flight East, visit:

Merchant’s Picks for August

Want to know what hot items you should have on your shelves for this month? Find out with this list of Merchant’s Picks for August 2017.

Merchant Picks - August 2017

Item NumberItem NameWHY A MERCHANT PICK?
B70 022Bonide Neem Oil Quart RTUAn all purpose insecticide, miticide, fungicide for organic gardening. Neem Oil is an excellent choice for use on virtually any plant, including roses, flowers, vegetables, herbs, spices, houseplants, trees, turf, and shrubs. Kills all stages of insects - eggs, larvae and adults.
C19 55 Classic Brands 64 oz. Hummingbird NectarAugust is the last month to help these tiny adventurous birds get ready for their long migration.
H63 7341006Hestra Women's Garden Rose GlovesDurable, soft, goatskin leather glove with a long cowhide cuff. Perfect for fall preparation and pruning back the plants before the first frost.
S09 21605Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass For Fall Grass Seed PlantingImproves lawn's ability to absorb water and nutrients. Safe for all grass types - including sod and grass plugs. Won't burn lawns.
S09 38605DScotts Turf Builder Winterguard Fall Lawn Food 5MBuilds strong deep grass roots for a better lawn next spring. WaterSmart improves the lawn's ability to absorb water and nutrients versus an unfed lawn.
S09 38615Scotts Turf Builder Winterguard Fall Lawn Food 15MBuilds strong deep grass roots for a better lawn next spring. WaterSmart improves the lawn's ability to absorb water and nutrients versus an unfed lawn.
T34 30465Truper Tru-Tough Poly Shrub RakeIdeal for mid-summer yard clean up. Home owner grade poly shrub rake with 8" head and 48" wood handle.
T34 30480Tru-Tough Steel Leaf Rake With Wood HandleIdeal for mid-summer yard clean up. Steel lawn and leaf rake with a 54" lacquered ash wood handle. 24" wide green head. The handle is fastened with a heavy-duty bolt through construction and nylon nut.
W75 1020 Havahart Two Door Mouse TrapIdeal for catching mice, shrews, and similar-size nuisance animals. Proven efficacy derived from extensive field testing means higher catch rate and fewer escapes. Made to last - resists rust and corrosion.