Small garden centers should think big.

It’s been a great spring so far in northern California. More sun than rain so people have been getting out in their gardens and as a result visiting the garden center. One of the questions I try to ask when visiting with people at the store how they found out about us.

More and more the two responses I hear are “my friends told me about you guys” or “I saw you website on the internet.” As the mass media flail’s about trying to figure out what’s next, the small garden center can use inexpensive and more effective means to reach the consumer.

We just received a nice e-mail from a fan in Glanmire, County Cork, Ireland. It read, “I am relatively new to gardening and I would most sincerely like to congratulate you on your website. It has fascinating topics, tips, guidance and gardening plans, in fact all you need to know and has kindled my interest in gardening. If circumstances would allow I would most certainly purchase my garden requirements but all I can offer is my appreciation and ask that you keep up the good work.”

I printed the letter up and placed it by our cash registers and bulletin board. This is thrilling as we are able to touch someone so far away yet we are just a small garden center in the foothills of northern California. What’s even more exciting is the part of the letter that reads. “If circumstances would allow I would most certainly purchase my garden requirements.” Why not?

This is something that all small garden centers should be aware of. Your potential market could be a lot larger than the local clientele. How to address this worldwide market is something I don’t have an answer to yet. I think that it presents a huge opportunity for small garden centers to compete in a market that has in the past been reserved for larger companies. At the least the goodwill from working with people from around the world will inspire your walk in customers to have a different and positive view of your business.

I am not sure where this is all leading but it is invigorating to actually think of our business in global terms. Maybe that’s what we need in the small garden center business. Just because you physical location or sales volume may be small your reach and impact can be huge.