Bringing Gardening Indoors

By Abby Kleckler
Managing Editor, Lawn & Garden Retailer

In a seasonal industry, a non-seasonal department that has a modern look and attracts customers of all ages, particularly a younger shopper, seems promising.

This is exactly what Brian Riddle, owner of Homestead Gardens near Annapolis, Maryland, has created with its Modern Homesteading department.

The 2,500-square-foot area opened in March and features products for indoor gardening, food production, beekeeping, aquaponics and much more.

In this Q&A, Lawn & Garden Retailer spoke with Riddle about what he’s seen so far and the potential he sees for the industry in this emerging category.

L&GR: What got you started and why did the idea of “modern homesteading” appeal to you and your business?

Brian Riddle: Since I rejoined the family business in 2011 I’ve been naturally taking a fresh look at all the things that we do and trying to find ways to improve what works and how to maybe move away from things that aren’t working and restructure them. And I’ve always been keen on trying to create year-round departments that help bring foot traffic in the door.

I’ve felt strongly that our store does a great job with conversion but getting them in the door is the largest challenge, and I think from what I’ve learned from my contacts and study in our industry is that’s where we’re all having the greatest challenge is maintaining that foot traffic.

In that realization we have been looking at ways to reconfigure the store, and Clint Albin [from Garden Media Group] started to share this idea in the indoor gardening category about a year and a half ago, so we started to explore some other indoor gardening retail businesses and get a little better understanding of what the category involves.

I was very skeptical and sort of fell into the stereotype where I just didn’t think that that was the category I was interested in until I better understood it.

Through this journey I’ve realized there was a huge opportunity not only to create a year-round category but to also introduce a different customer to our store and also take our existing customers and introduce them to an entirely different way to garden that’s in many ways more flexible and more conducive to the community that we are growing into as the density where our business is based is pretty dense.

The traditional growth in our garden center is kind of subsiding with virtually no more housing developments being put in; it’s more going apartments and condos. This gives us an opportunity to serve people in those types of residential settings that still have a passion and a desire to grow.

L&GR: What type of customer does this department appeal to?

Riddle: It’s still very preliminary, so I don’t want to be overconfident in my evaluation, but what I’m seeing right now and the biggest highlight is that we’re seeing a younger customer and certainly creating a younger audience that’s interested.

I think that is yet another problem that many garden centers are faced with; our core customer is an aging customer and so I think we’ve seen a very diverse customer and at this point we’ve seen very little of the assumed customer, if you would, or the stereotype.

Through our educational programs and our introduction, we’ve seen a very broad base of people coming and certainly we’re getting some younger people, and I think that’s a real win.

L&GR: Speaking of educational programs, you have 15 seminars that go through the end of July. What role does the educational component play in getting people interested in modern homesteading?

Riddle: I think we’re trying to create an information/educational series of events to really help highlight all of the different applications of what we call modern homesteading. To give this new department sort of a full-circle, well-rounded approach, we knew indoor in itself was not going to be enough to support what we have, an entire department and the staff that comes with it.

It’s beekeeping, it’s composting, it’s various aspects of indoor gardening — it could be lighting, it could be nutrient management, it could be temperature, environmental control. Seminars give us another way to talk about all the different aspects of what we’re doing and sort of validate to our current base of customers that this is a commitment on our part and we really are aiming to serve at a very high level with all the support that’s needed. It’s a fresh way to sort of bring attention back to some of the things that we’ve been doing, but not necessarily highlighting, all under the brand of modern homesteading.

Teachers are another major source or target for us as we evolve our marketing with our “Thursdays are for Teachers.” We eventually want to get it into the schools and into the classroom, and I think it’s a great way to get young people exposed. Hopefully the school will put a system of some sort in the classroom but it’s also something students can bring home, and they can do it on the kitchen counter or in their bedroom.

I think the applications of these products are virtually limitless and something that’s not intimidating and something they’d be comfortable bringing home.

Many of our schools in the market that Homestead serves may not even have a space that’s available on the outside, so the accessibility is universal. The growing season and the school year do not overlap all that well, and this is year-round and can be adapted to their calendar at any time.

From a school standpoint, I think it’s really an ideal way to garden.

L&GR: Do you see this as a category other garden centers should be embracing, and do you have any tips for them?

Riddle: I think that all garden centers need to continuously explore new categories that naturally fit in the current product mix. In the case of Homestead, we’re very much a lifestyle store and outdoor living super center, so I think the definition of a garden center needs to be sort of revisited and open minded.

I think this particular category is such a natural fit because for our current customer this plays right to their passions and things that they love to do, so I think there’s a world of opportunity to develop our current customers into it.

For the smaller, urban customer, I think it is such a great way to serve a segment of the community that a large part of the products that we sell have very little if any opportunity in those settings.

The nice part about this department, and there are not many things in my store that are this way, is that once it’s set up, it doesn’t have the seasonal reconfiguring that we have to do in the rest of our store.

We are constantly transforming our store from season to season and although this department will have some merchandising changes, for the most part it’s a pleasure to have something that once you put it together, the bulk of it stays in its configuration. I think that we are happy to not have to break it down every three months.

I do want to stress that this category is coming and it’s not exclusive to small independents.

I do think that this trend is identified, and the larger chain retailers are going to be moving into this as well, so I think the opportunity is now to get in front of this and take advantage of it and really be established as the expert in your marketplace before they get out in front of you. I do think there’s a lot to be said for being the first in your space.

I personally believe this is going to be a tremendous success and add-on to our business, and all of the reservations and sort of concern that I had as I went through the decision-making process; none of my worries have ever been materialized.

It has been nothing but positive from all those who have seen it, and we have had nobody question the legitimacy of what we were doing. It’s been pretty remarkable.

(Article provided by Lawn & Garden Retailer)

An Extension of the Store

Arett Outlook May 2016

You may want to give the mantra “leave work at work” a second thought. Annette Gutierrez is the owner of garden lifestyle store Potted in Los Angeles, California, and her home is the envy of any customer.

In the following interview, Gutierrez talks to Lawn & Garden Retailer about building credibility and knowing what trends compel your customers.

L&GR: As the owner of Potted, do you feel like your home has to have a gorgeous garden?

Annette Gutierrez: Yes, absolutely. It’s like the old saying that “the cobbler’s children have no shoes” from many, many years ago. I think things like that are by the wayside. You have to be a reflection of what you’re selling.

We’re more of a lifestyle brand in the sense that we want to evoke an image, a feeling. My garden is always changing because I want to work something out or try this or that. It’s a bit of a testing ground as well.

It’s been on The Garden Conservancy Tour and featured in Sunset magazine. It’s a calling card for sure.

Our professional life is an extension of what we enjoy so for me standing around saying, “Let’s try this,” and that I get paid for that, ultimately, is the best thing in the world. It’s a win-win for sure.

L&GR: The tagline of Potted is “indoor style for outdoor living.” What do you think that means for today’s consumers?

Gutierrez: When you decorate the inside of the house you have textiles, you’re thinking about draperies, you’re thinking about art, you’re thinking about all that kind of stuff. We really took the idea that your outdoor rooms are the same as your indoor rooms – they’re rooms – and that when you start thinking about it that way, the decorating becomes very similar to the interior.

Many people have outdoor living rooms like I have right outside my kitchen. There’s the outdoor kitchen, the outdoor dining room.

You can easily recreate the same ideas outside, but outside is so harsh. Our idea behind that was to try to curate choices that could support the outdoor conditions.

Anything that will hold up outdoors and is also beautiful is what we look for, and it’s not that easy to find. It’s getting better with the idea that people want choices and want the outside to be a reflection of their home, so that’s where that tagline came from.

L&GR: When customers come into your store, what are they asking for that they weren’t aware of a few years ago? What trends have you been seeing?

Gutierrez: What’s so great about the air plants is that people can live in an apartment in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia or Timbuktu; it doesn’t matter.

Anybody can use them inside, and they’re fun and easy. Although, they’re not as easy as everyone seems to want them to be.

I laugh when people come into the store and say, “We don’t have to do anything to them.” I’m like, “Well, they’re a living plant; they need water.” There’s this misconception. What’s great about them though is you can put them anywhere.

You know the Portlandia [sketch comedy television show] “Put a bird on it” joke? We always say, “Put an air plant on it!” We used that hashtag a lot on Instagram for a while. They’re fun. I think I have 50 air plants in my house. People who normally couldn’t have a garden experiment with them and then they get braver.

I’ve been noticing more interior plants. People are really getting over this thing about not having a houseplant.

I think more and more people are really embracing them because there are so many more choices now, and people have really freed themselves from spider plants hanging or something like that.

(Article provided by Lawn & Garden Retailer)

In-Store Selling Techniques

Arett Outlook February 2016

How to convert shoppers into buyers

Getting consumers into your store is only the half the battle. Once the consumer enter

s your store, it’s your job to convert them into buyers. There are hundreds of techniques to ensure a good customer experience; however focusing on just a few will go a long way.

Sales Team Scheduling

Making sure that you have enough staff available to serve your customers sounds simple enough, however, retailers continue to fall short. Pay close attention to your store traffic patterns and ensure that you are fully equipped to support your customers. If you see an increase in store traffic during normal lunch hours, have your employees take an early or late lunch so as not to miss any opportunity. In certain situations, being overstaffed can be equally as frustrating to customers as being understaffed. Matching your staffs schedules to traffic volume will help improve your chances of converting shoppers into buyers.

Greeting the Customer:

First impressions can make or break any relationship – and this holds especially true in the retail world. Whether this is a customers first visit to your store or their one hundredth, the initial feeling they experience will dictate the rest of the shopping experience. At the very least, you should always have an employee standing at the entrance of your store greeting your customers as they come in. An employee dressed in the retailers uniform, a name tag, a smile and a simple greeting is as easy as it gets and goes a long way. Now that your customer is feeling good about their visit to your store, make sure that all of your employees exude the necessary traits to continue the superior customer experience*:

  • Confidence: Eye contact, a firm hand shake and the ability to strike up a conversation with strangers is absolutely essential.
  • Proactive: A sales associate should always be one step ahead of the customer to gauge when someone needs help. Don’t wait for the problem to arise. Provide the answer before the customer even knows what they’re looking for.
  • Patience: Customers are all different – some are nice, others are mean. Some are relaxed, others are in a hurry. The patience to deal with all types of customers is vital.
  • Articulate and Knowledgeable: Sales associates must be able to communicate with the customers and have the ability to provide information when asked. If they don’t know the answer, they should go find someone who does right away.
  • Respectful: The customer might not always be right, but it’s the sales associate’s job to make them feel that way. Customers must be treated with respect, even in the most challenging situations.
  • Flexibility: When dealing with the public, things can go wrong. You have to be flexible enough to roll with the punches and think outside the box sometimes.
  • Innate Friendliness: Sales associates should be naturally friendly, it should not be an effort.
  • Ability to Multitask: There will always be several jobs that need to be done at once. Sales associates need to be able to support multiple customers and complete their store duties all while remaining calm, confident and friendly.

How to communicate with customers?

The worst possible question that you can ask your customer is “Can I help you?” In almost every situation, the answer will be “No, I’m just looking”. When communicating with your customers, you should never give them the easy way out and, instead, attempt to initiate dialogue. Once the communication channel is open, try to understand what your customer is looking for and, in turn, convert them into a buyer. Here are some appropriate questions (and responses) that should be used when speaking with your customer:

Question: Hi, have you been in our store before?
– Response 1: (if yes) “Welcome back, let me show you a couple new items that we just got in.”
– Response 2: (if no) “Thanks for coming – let me show you around.”

Question: What can I help you find today?
– Response 1: (if they know) “I can assist you with that. Please let me show you where to go.”
– Response 2: (if they don’t know) “Let me show you some of our popular items.”

Question: I notice that you’re looking at {product name}, is there a particular project that you’re working on?
– Response 1: (if yes) “That’s great! Let me show you what else we have that can help.”
– Response 2: (if no) “Ok, let me tell you a little about this item.”

Question: Hi, how are you doing today?
– Response 1: “That’s great. What can I help you find today?”
– Response 2: “I’m sorry to hear that. How can I help get your day going in the right direction?”

Seeing the customer off:

Either the cash register attendant or the greeter are your last line of defense. This is your opportunity to both sell more and make sure they leave feeling good about their experience. At the very least, your employee should ask, “Did you find everything that you were looking for today?” If not, have someone help them find the item. If yes, pay attention to what they purchased and see if there is an accompanying item that they might need (i.e. “I see that you have purchased a shovel and some flowers. A garden kneeler can go a long way in keeping you clean and preventing back problems while working the garden. Would you like to add one to your order?”). Regardless of their answer, be sure to thank the customer for shopping and welcome them back in the near future.

For other great articles, check out Arett University

How to Optimize Your Displays

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Displays are another great way to increase your sales and leverage your consumer’s impulse behavior. To be successful, there are a number of different components that you must pay special attention to.

Guidelines for Building Display

  • Keep the display off the floor: This prevents the bottom of packages from getting damaged. Use pallets or platforms.
  • Make the display sturdy: Stack the packages safely and securely.
  • Be sure the display is accessible: Never stack packages too high or to low for shoppers to reach easily. The average shopper is 5’5”. Keep handles turned outward and, if displaying more than one brand, don’t bury one under the other.
  • Leave starter gaps on all displays: If a display looks too good, shoppers will be reluctant to buy off it. Once the display is built, remove a few packages from the top or stagger packages to make it appear as though it has been shopped.
  • All packages should be faced: All labels on packages should face shoppers. This provides an attractive billboard effect.
  • Make displays creative: Stacking packages attractively draws attention and enhances the image of the store.
  • Merchandise the display: Displays should always be merchandised properly.

Best Location for Displays
Displays should be placed in high traffic areas. A recent study shows that:

  • Displays in back of store showed 113% sales increase
  • Displays in mid-aisle/perimeter showed 274% sales increase
  • Displays in front of store showed 426% sales increase

Size and Duration
The right size for a display depends on the product volume the retailer can move. If the display is too big, product will move slowly and you may have rotation problems. Displays that are too small can run out of product and miss sales opportunities. How can you determine the best display size?

  • Use past sales information from a similar display period
  • Look at sales performance on a competitive display
  • Multiply the normal weekly volume by 2.5 (average increase for display)

The duration of a display is most effective when kept to two or three weeks. After the third week, the display loses its attention getting value. Shoppers become used to seeing it and ignore it. If a display must be kept for longer than three weeks, keep it fresh with a redesign, new POS materials or change the location.

Cross Merchandising and Brand Teaming
Impulse purchases play a major role in increasing sales. Cross merchandising and brand teaming on displays can take advantage of these purchasing behaviors. Brand teaming pairs two or more brands together on one display, usually using a strong and a weaker selling brand. The stronger selling brand draws attention to the display where they will be encouraged to try the other brand. When brand teaming, never put more than three brands together, as it could lead to cluttered display and makes it more difficult to manage. Also be careful about brand teaming with different price points, as this can encourage shoppers to trade down.

Wheels On Fire

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By Amanda Thomsen


I’m not as ahead of the curve as I used to be, so for many, the ideas below are not at all cutting edge. Although I have to say, many garden centers are a little behind the curve. Some garden centers are still working their way up to embrace the “website” and “social media.” And that’s okay—we all need goals, people. But to them, I may end up sounding like a Jetson with the below ideas. But hey, this is how the “kids” are doing it nowadays and when I say “kids” I mean the general, fun-loving public. So, put down your abacus and check out these four-wheeled ideas.

 
Pop-Up Shops: Go and buy an old camper/trailer and use it as an off-site shop at festivals, street fairs, flea markets, farmers’ markets and other charming events. A painted-up trailer can be quite the advertising piece! Spread the word about YOU and YOUR STUFF to crowds that have no idea where you are or what you do. My husband gifted me a 1949 trailer that is gorgeous (to me) but in rough shape. I planned to make that puppy a pop-up (I have no store but I wanted a pop-up; it makes little sense but that’s how I roll) and then we found that it would take about 50K in work, so I abandoned all hope. (Still looking for a good home for the old girl, if you know all about riveting …)
 
Anyways, imagine being able to handpick product to bring to events! Pre-planted herb containers for farmers’ markets, the newest chic annuals at a craft fair, mini gardening accoutrements for a street fair with tons of kids attending. Roll out an old carpet, set up your wares and set the sidewalk on fire with your on-trend look. Then you Instagram and tweet it like a complete cuckoo and hashtag it until your fingers bleed. You can easily use register apps (like Square, PayPal or Intuit) and a smartphone to keep track of sales or go old school and just write everything down.
 
Food Trucks: Having an event at your place? Give your customers the opportunity to grab a gourmet lunch without leaving your campus! OR host a food truck event if you have a lot of parking to offer. What I mean by that is, invite a ton of different trucks to park and sell food at your garden center, promote the heck out of it and watch local foodies stream in to try the food and most likely take home a bunch of plants, too. AND you and your employees get to easily grab a great lunch.
 
Many food trucks will come for free as long as they will meet a minimum in sales and, sure, that can be a gamble. A very delicious gamble. Food trucks bring their own power sources, water …  all you have to do is bring an empty stomach. I’ve attended some of these food truck events and have been impressed with the rabid following some food trucks already have. Now, these food trucks are COMPLETELY social media and website savvy (unlike some businesses I know, ahem) and will promote the heck out of anywhere they will be ON TOP of your promotion. Doesn’t this seem like a great way to get some fresh blood through the door? If gourmet cupcakes can’t do it … what can?
 
Amanda Thomsen is now a regular columnist in Green Profit magazine. You can find her funky, punky blog planted at www.KissMyAster.com and you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter @KissMyAster.
 
Reprinted from Green Profit | April 2015

Ten Ways Retailers Can Improve Pollinator Education And Sell More Bee-Related Products

outlook_ggaab_bannerMembers of Today’s Garden Center’s 2015 Revolutionary 100 offer tips on how to connect with local beekeepers, sell bee-related products, and educate your customers about the importance of pollinators.

1. Start With A Simple Phone Call
“We have lots of friends with the local beekeeping chapter, the Colonial Beekeepers Association. When we kicked off our spring season, they brought an observation hive and discussed how our customers can get started raising bees in their own backyards. I simply called and they were happy to help. Many of our guests were raising bees and we never knew it. We hope to offer local honey in the near future.”
 
2. Don’t Forget About Butterflies
“We do butterfly gardening and have a native Michigan butterfly house. A tour guide in the butterfly house educates the public on what the host and nectar plants are for certain species of butterflies, and why it is important to have these plants. We have about eight species of butterflies in the butterfly house in all their stages. We also have pop-up circles that tell fun facts about butterflies.”
 
3. Spread Your Message To The Masses
“We had the president of the area bee club on our radio show with us on March 28th, and he spent two hours taking phone calls. The show also streams online on iHeartRadio and will be podcast. After the broadcast, he joined us at one of our stores for a seminar. We provide our meeting room free of charge for their bee club to meet on the first Wednesday evening of every month (80 to 100 attendees per meeting).”
 
outlook_ggaab_body14. Sell Locally Produced Honey
“We are very fortunate to have maintained a relationship with a local beekeeper for years. We are also fortunate that our partnership allows the bees to be maintained by the beekeeper as well. Since our honey is produced right on the farm and packaged by the beekeeper, we have agreed to purchase the honey from our beekeeper. In turn, we are able to offer that as locally-produced product to our customers. Selling our own, locally-produced honey is a huge value, especially for those consumers who understand the importance of locally-produced honey. Its health and wellness benefits, as well as its homeopathic allergy-relieving properties, make it very desirable product.”
 
5. Target Your Young Visitors
“We have a local honey producer we work with. I went to one of our many farmers’ markets and found him in person. We struck up a conversation and in no time I had an ample supply of local honey on my shelves. Now I meet him at the market about once a month for a new case of honey. I also have a beekeeper who does classes here periodically. He walked into the garden center one day and the rest was history. His classes have been the largest in attendance by far. I have another beekeeper coming this summer to talk to our summer camp kids. We met him at a summer camp expo at which we set up a booth at a local mall. Pollinators will be a topic of discussion during one of our summer camps, so he was a logical guest to bring in.”
 
6. Be Ready To Answer Questions
“The first thing to do is connect with local beekeeping associations. Let them know that if they have any events to please contact you about handing out resources for plant information (your business ad disguised as an info guide). Also, find out if there are any stores that specialize in beekeeping, if so, connect with them and be their go-to for plant referrals. I would recommend only selling beekeeping equipment if you have someone on staff that is readily available to answer questions, because there will be A LOT of questions.”
 
outlook_ggaab_body27. Have An Expert On Staff
“We are lucky enough to have a bee keeper on staff as an employee. He also happens to be one of our orchard experts and rose experts as well. He is also a bee keeper at his home and is very active in associations for bee keepers. Many of our customers love the cooking demonstrations he gives on using honey in baking/cooking instead of sugar. For other garden centers looking to partner or get in touch with local bee keepers, I would suggest getting in touch with your state Bee Keepers Association and looking for someone local through that group.”
 
8. Educate About Pesticide Awareness
“We have partnered with a couple of local beekeepers. Last year we had them come in for two different events. One event was a Native Plant Festival. They did a seminar on beekeeping but also on planting the correct plants, as well as pesticide awareness. They also came to a Healthy Living Expo we did to really be there for bee awareness. They certainly understand our struggles with the press, but wanted to work with us in letting the public know that it’s not all a pesticide related problem. It’s been a good relationship.”
 
9. Use Your Local Connections
“We run a workshop every year with a local honey producer and bee supply owner. It’s an hour-long workshop where he brings a hive to show the attendees, and talks about beekeeping and beekeeping tasks through the year. Then I go over a large selection of different perennials we offer that are good for bees. In our area, many municipalities are now allowing residential bee hives, so interest is growing quite fast. My partner and I are also beekeepers. Urban honey is so delicious.”
 
10. Use Your Newsletter To Keep Customers Informed
“We have had hives on our property supplied by a local beekeeper for several years now. We take pictures of them when they are here cleaning and inspecting, and then do a simple story in our newsletter to keep people informed on what is going on.”
 
(Article provided by Today’s Garden Center)

5 Miniature Gardening Must-Dos

outlook_gg96b_headerBy Abby Kleckler Managing Editor, Lawn & Garden Retailer

 
Miniature gardening is here to stay, and many retailers have been amping up their products in this category. Whether you haven’t given miniatures much thought, or have fully embraced the offerings, Clark Hermanson, garden center manager at Pesche’s Garden Center in Des Plaines, Illinois, has five merchandising tips for scaling up your scaled-down offerings.
 
1. CATCH THEIR EYE
Give customers something on a large scale to draw them in no matter how big or small the department. Pesche’s started its miniature gardening department at its brick-and-mortar store five years ago with 8 square feet in the store, and now they have approximately 700 square feet.
 
The team at Pesche’s has created a 10-by-10-foot fairy garden display they change out every year and for the holidays.
 
“The kids bring the parents over to the section automatically because they want to know what we’ve done,” Hermanson says.
 
Some of the displays have been more intricate with water features such as small lakes or rain coming from overhead, but it’s the size that is really key.
 
Hermanson says to aim for at least 4 feet by 2 feet. This could be a small village on an old planting bench, a tabletop or inside a wheelbarrow. The key is to create an inspirational feature.
 
outlook_gg96b_body12. HAVE A GOOD PRODUCT MIX 
With miniature gardening, Hermanson has found that customers care more about variety instead of depth of product.
 
“It is better to have six pieces of 30 different items than 12 pieces of 15 different items,” he says. “You can always reorder.” Some people prefer a more folksy look while other might like a more detailed, realistic look.
 
Hermanson recommends asking wholesalers for their top 10 or 20 sellers and then order a small amount of those items to begin. Instead of stocking all fairies or all accessories, you want to mix in little pots, bistro sets, etc. with those staple pieces.
 
“The more different types of items you can fit in your budget will make you a destination for fairy gardens and keeps people coming in,” Hermanson says.
 
outlook_gg96b_body23. KEEP LIKE ITEMS TOGETHER 
With such a variety of items, it is important for your merchandising to make sense. For example, make sure to keep all the fairies together or all the animals together on your shelves.
 
Organize displays by theme. “You need to tell a story and show customers how to use the product by completing a variety of different scenes using houses, supplies, and fairies,” Hermanson says. “A lot of times customers may copy what you are doing if they like the look.”
 
Jeremie Corp. set up a farm scene for their display at the IGC East show in Maryland (above), which could easily translate to your garden center.
 
outlook_gg96b_body34. SHOW OFF YOUR MINIATURES 
People need to know you have a strong miniature gardening department. Whenever Pesche’s gets a new product in, Hermanson posts the vendors’ photos on its Facebook site to notify customers.
 
A large sign depicting Pesche’s as a “Fairy Garden Headquarters!” stops drivers and beckons them to come inside, while signage at the entrance drives people back to the miniature garden display. Although some fairy gardening products are situated right near the registers, it is important to have signage, since everything cannot be in that prime location of the store, according to Hermanson.
 
“We make sure that the people who are working the entrance to the garden center and greeting people in our busy times, steer people (especially those with children) to take a look at the miniature gardens,” he says. “That keeps them coming back.”
 
outlook_gg96b_body45. DON’T SHY AWAY FROM FAIRY PLANTS 
Pesche’s miniature gardening department has grown to $82,000 annually for the brick-and-mortar store, $22,000 of the total coming from fairy plants.
 
At $2.99 for each plant, the demand is high. Pesche’s puts them in baby blue or pink 3-inch pots. Customers have almost a collector’s mentality where they need to have all the different plants, according to Hermanson.
 
Incorporating these plants in your large-scale miniature garden displays can also inspire, as Roger’s Gardens in California shows (above).
 
“You can get fairy plants from anybody unbranded, but it’s all about the tag. Brand these as fairy plants and people can see how to use them,” Hermanson says. “People walk out with so many of these as opposed to an unbranded pot.”
 
outlook_gg96b_body5.jpg(Article provided by Lawn & Garden Retailer)

Turn Customer Service into a NO-Brainer with Trunk Mat!

outlook_T99_bannerTrunk Mat customers all have one very important thing in common, they are all successful garden centers!

Their customers stand above the competition and the big boxes because they understand that a plastic sheet goes a long way to letting customers know how important they are. The way a customer feels in a garden center and their experience with the staff is what will keep them loyal and coming back. Trunk Mats are the one and only product available to garden centers that is solely about customer service!

Trunk Mats say thank you without even having to say it at all. Trunk Mats save staff valuable time from running around trying to find anything that will protect the customer’s car. Trunk Mats are durable and waterproof fostering the customer to reuse and keep them in their auto reminding them of your business. Trunk Mats advertise and are branded to a particular business with custom information. Trunk Mats educate and empower customers with information to create success with their plants. Trunk Mats are environmentally friendly, made from recycled film, recyclable and reusable. Trunk Mats save environmental resources and customer’s money from needing to vacuum and clean their autos. Trunk Mats are a NO-Brainer!

Almost 30 years ago, Dave Garlock created an amazing new product and built a successful business in his dining room with his wife and family. The Garlock family, thru hard work and faith, has made Trunk Mats a recognized staple in the lawn and garden industry. Dave’s almost 50 years experience in plastics and horticultural packaging, along with his family’s dedication to customer service and growth, has made The Trunk Mat Company a leading supplier to successful lawn and garden’s across the United States.

The Trunk Mat Company is 100% American owned and operated. They manufacture their mats in the United States. Their product was specifically made for the independent garden center who understands how important and easy customer service can be.

Trunk Mats are a NO-Brainer!

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Boost Interaction & Sales with Home Preserving

outlook_preserving_bannerIt’s no secret that food gardening is bringing eager neophytes into garden centers. Even long-established ornamental gardeners are reserving more space for vegetables and fruit, or combining food plants and ornamentals in attractive potagers. The important thing to notice in this trend: it’s about food.

Your garden center may be benefiting from increased sales in seeds, seedlings, brambles, fruit trees, mulch, pest management products, fencing, trellises, irrigation systems and other food gardening-specific products. But how are you doing at the other end, during the harvest? Perhaps you can bring customers back with a well-marketed line of home-preserving gear.

Extension services report they always fill beginner courses on home preserving. If you can host, a local Cooperative Extension office may authorize a Master Preserver to teach. Alternatively, local newspapers or regional magazines might recommend food or garden writers to teach preserving.

Of course, you may have the requisite experience to teach home-preserving yourself, but be sure to review USDA guidelines before organizing a class. The USDA now considers dangerous some practices they recommended in the 1980s.

Ideally, schedule demos throughout the year. Use local produce to teach various preserving methods. Strawberries and rhubarb make great jam and freezable pies. Use sour cherries and it might be the first time many of your customers have even seen them raw. Tomatoes deserve several demos (canning diced tomatoes, sauces, dehydrating) and sweet corn has its own challenges. Don’t overlook herbs; customers can save a fortune by growing their own and then drying or freezing them. If you can’t offer demonstrations, create a display of preserved products along with the gear used to preserve them. A variety of canned foods distributed among canning tools will draw attention while dehydrator trays filled with freshly dried fruits and herbs can be a compelling conversation starter.

To promote canning, find USDA-tested recipes for products customers can’t find in stores: Homemade salsas, chutneys, jams, jellies, relishes, barbecue sauces and pickles are all easy to sample with tiny plastic spoons or crackers. Deliver a dramatic flavor combination by offering halved ginger snaps to dunk in homemade lemon curd.

The best demo won’t be enough to enable someone new to home preserving. Include in your displays at least one easy-to-follow book and, perhaps, fliers from Cooperative Extension. If they’re not in the books you’re selling, print recipes for whatever samples your customers have tasted.

If you have the shelf space, don’t treat preserving as a seasonal activity. Stores tend to put out preserving gear too late in spring and remove it from shelves in late autumn. But winter brings amazing prices on pineapples, mangoes and avocados.

Always tie your home preserving products back to the garden. A customer who gets the “bug” might require a larger garden. Where before a hill of cucumbers lasted the summer, it could take three or four hills to fill canning jars with pickles and relish. Where six tomato plants were enough for salads and sandwiches in season, canning might demand 14 or 20 plants. Help preserving enthusiasts calculate how much to plant to assure they’ll have enough to stock their larders.

Finally, include cold storage in your repertoire. A simple cold storage system might involve plastic tubs and damp sand. You could provide kits for customers to manage homegrown root vegetables all winter in their basements.

Home preserving offers the opportunity to sell canning pots, jars, lids, funnels, jar-lifters, seasonings, fruit pectin, pickling lime, citric acid, freezer containers, freezer bags, dehydrators, slicers, food mills, storage shelves, cutting boards, cutlery, storage boxes, sand or sawdust, fermentation tanks and how-to and recipe books.

Written by Daniel Gasteiger who wrote the book “Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry It, Too” from Cool Springs Press. He writes about gardening and cooking and speaks enthusiastically about growing, preserving and cooking food.

Chickens Are the Best Tool For Your Garden

outlook_h19_bannerBy Edward Gates
August 5, 2014

Boerne, TX– Chickens can be used to help maintain and strengthen the health of your garden. Having a flock of chickens in your backyard is beneficial in several ways.

A single chicken can bio recycle about seven pounds of food residuals in a month. If 2,000 households raised three hens, it could divert 252 tons of waste from landfills annually. A flock of hens will also perform most of the labor of having to “turn” your compost pile by scratching at the pile.

Chickens are efficient producers of nutrients for your soil as well. Chicken manure fertilizer is high in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, making it one of the best organic fertilizers for enriching your garden soil. Just one hen will produce about 90 pounds of manure a year.

Chickens also provide great pest control by eating problem-causing insects like crickets, grasshoppers, snails, and slugs. Chickens have been known to kill, and eat, small snakes too. Since they naturally love to eat a wide variety of the most common garden pests, chickens are a great organic pest control option.

Not only are chickens a valuable addition to your arsenal of garden tools and equipment but they also provide fresh eggs for the family. In 2007, Mother Earth News did an egg testing project and found that, compared to official USDA nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain 1/3 less cholesterol, 1/4 less saturated fat, 2/3 more vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, and 7 times more beta carotene.

Chicken Raising Overview

Caring and raising a flock is easy and takes about the same time and effort as raising a dog. With the essentials, you can successfully raise happy chickens in any garden.

There are many resources to help you as you start up your backyard flock. There are several good books on the subject, such as The Complete Guide to Raising Chickens by Tara Layman Williams. This will arm you with the knowledge that you need, including which breed you want and what to feed them. Books like this will also give you information on how to tell if your chicken is sick.

A chicken coop is required to provide a safe shelter for your hens to lay and to protect them from predators. You want about 3-4 square feet per chicken inside the henhouse. A coop with an open floor will be easier to shovel out manure to use in your garden.

A feeder and waterer can be found at your local feed or lawn and garden store. Your local store will carry a variety of shapes and styles to choose from that will fit any size flock. One of the easiest ways to give your chicken water is to attach a nipple waterer to the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket, hang it in your coop, and fill with fresh clean water.

You must also be prepared to protect some of your more tasty plants with chicken wire. Chicken wire is easy to install. You want to make sure your chickens have access to the perimeter of your garden to act as a defensive barrier for bugs and insects.

You can use treats to train your flock to perform many different tasks, like getting them to come to you when called. Get your chickens to scratch and aerate the soil where you spread the treats, or simply reward them for their help.

About Happy Hen Treats

Happy Hen Treats were the inspiration of a seven year old girl named Kassidi who raised chickens in her backyard in a small town just outside of San Antonio, Texas. During a trip to the pet store to purchase treats for the family’s dog, Kassidi asked her father if she could also buy treats for Bailey, her favorite chicken. As her father gently explained that treats were not available for chickens, he could quickly see that his explanation was not setting well with Kassidi. She insisted on searching the store in hopes of finding something special to take home to Bailey.

Less than a year later, Happy Hen Treats developed Mealworm Frenzy and declared it to be “The World’s First Treats for Chickens.” Thanks to one little girl’s vision and determination, chickens across the country can now enjoy a special treat developed especially for them.

Happy Hen Treats provides healthy and all natural high-protein treats that let you interact with and train your chickens.

Be sure to visit happyhentreats.com to see other great quality products that you and your chickens will love.

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