The gardening market has changed

While I was at The ANLA Clinic earlier this year we listened to a man (can't remember who), who said many

garden centers are too big, and have to much inventory on hand for the current situation. Someone in the audience said that they needed the extra plants so as to be able to make nice displays. Whether they need the plants to  sell or not, they we're going to keep ordering so they could make nice displays. This surprised me as I have over the last couple of years decided that we would only carry what sold. Sounds simple doesn't it?

I wonder how many stores still order based on what they believe a nursery should carry, as opposed to what works these days. Bulbs? Didn't carry them this year. You know what, we didn't have to put the majority on sale before they sprouted in the boxes this year. Sure a few people we're disappointed we didn't carry them, but not that many. Actually we told our locally owned competition we we're not going to carry bulbs this year, and would send people over to them. They ordered extra, and you know what? They are still trying to get rid of them, and they are on sale.

Somehow a balance needs to be achieved between the notion of a garden center, and the reality. I have a friend who was in the nursery business for over a quarter century. He told me you couldn't be a proper nursery and not carry roses.  How many nurseries continue to carry large selections of roses only to put a large portion on sale at the end of the season? The darn deer eat them here, and as such the demand is not great like other more suburban areas. We don't carry roses. Haven't looked back.  I would expect that the Christmas season is like that for many of us. The problem is most of that Christmas stuff never sells, and ends up in the back room waiting to make an appearance the following year. I realize some stores do a bang up Christmas season, but the majority do not.  If Christmas season continues to be a loss, maybe it would be better to just close for a month or two during the winter?  Your nursery may do a great job during the Christmas season. Keep it up!

I have a feeling that this year is going to be another tough one for the trade. Especially here in California where fundamental problems are going to keep the economy shaky. If you waiting around for the economy to "improve" so it can be business as usual, you have a long wait. Better to learn to live and thrive in what we are experiencing now.

There are great opportunities for garden centers who can tap into current concerns.  We are focused on consumables, and the products needed to be successful in your pursuit, such as organic fertilizers and pest controls. Even more important we have the knowledge to help you do it right. Perennials and annuals in smaller sizes are still great sellers.  We keep varieties not usually found at the box stores. Native plants are a niche no one does well in our area, so we now have a great selection of natives from our partner, Lotus Valley Natives. Indoor and hydroponic gardening has been huge for us. Another thing the box stores don't do well, yet. Find your niche and build on that. The traditional garden center market is no longer there.