multi-million dollar a year, Independent Garden Centers (IGC’s). Yes they are to be congratulated for lasting, and thriving in today’s market. It’s just my interest’s lie in the edges, not in the middle where most of these larger operations reside. They are successful, but few new and exciting ideas come from the middle. Give me the smaller, even micro business model where entrepreneurs have to be bold to make it.
The future of garden retail is bright, but not for all. The retail garden centers that are still operating like it was the mid 90’s are not going to be around much longer. You know the ones. Un-interested sale’s staff, boring selection, been there forever, and ain't going to change any time soon. Well they will when they have to have their final sale, but that is still a year or two away. But let’s focus on the bright future of garden retail.
Our nursery group has some heavy hitters as members, but also a huge collection of smaller and micro-sized operations. What I love about these places is they so often have to put it all on the line. They are start-up’s, and if you have ever started a company it’s a scary thing. It causes you to focus on what’s really important, and generally your passion is what carries you through the first few years. We need more passion in our businesses, and in gardening in general.
We just had a new member join our group from Canada. Sarah Hemingway from Sarah’s Kitchen Garden in Ontario has a small nursery that sell’s seedlings for the kitchen garden. She say’s, “I have a passion for growing food and helping other people learn more about it. This business venture is an extension of regular life for me! The more I learn, the more I want to share – with as many people as possible.” Apparently she even has helper monkey’s running around.
She has a couple things going for her that stand out. She say’s, “This business venture is an extension of regular life for me!” Good, because no matter what you think, as soon as you take the dive into this trade it becomes “your life”. She also has, “a passion”, which will serve her well in the years to come. She also wants’ “to share”, which is really the core of what we do. Share ideas, and hope our customers will like what we have shared, and maybe want to take home the items, or ideas we are sharing. It’s a tough business, but it’s heartening to see new people getting involved without the pre-conceived notions of what garden retail is.
I love places like Sarah’s. Our nursery group has many places that are a lot like Sarah’s, and people who exemplify the new era of garden retail. It’s about sharing ideas without worrying whether someone is going to “steal” your idea. It’s about support for each other as we find our way forward in this new retail landscape. It’s about the freshness of a new business, or an older business re-inventing itself. It’s about looking at the other side and having to make a leap of faith, and then jumping. There is no one to catch you if you fall. You can however, get up, dust yourself off, and try a different approach. But you will still need to make that jump. To all the people dreaming of, or actually doing garden retail, here is hoping you at least make the jump. We need more people making that leap of faith. Sometime's, if your lucky, you never even have to land.