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)