The list of negative news for the garden industry continues. Just today I read that the circulation for garden type magazines in The United Kingdom is down. We also read that Conde Nast is shuttering its House and Garden Magazine and accompanying website.
If the magazine situation wasn't bad enough there is this, Consumer confidence drops amongst the key consumer base for garden centers, people earning $75,000 to 149,999 a year. Add to that the sub-prime mortgage problems and you would have to ask why anyone would want to run a garden center. On top of that we read that total garden sales have declined by 3% and that Home Centers have surpassed garden centers as the place for gardening purchases.
In addition we read that gardening as a whole is on decline and that the response we should have is to de-emphasize gardening. Again, I have to ask why would anyone open or run a garden center? It's like opening a buggy whip factory right after hearing about Henry Fords new invention the AUTOMOBILE. It's crazy.
At this point you might be expecting me to list the reasons why this is a great business to be in, and that these trends and figures don't amount to much at the well run garden center. Your wrong, though. I can't imagine anyone contemplating opening a small garden center. I fell into this business 28 years ago and it took me more than half that time before I owned my own business. If I had not been involved with the business, and was looking at opening a center today I would pick another industry to be involved in. The lists of closing and near closing garden centers is long and in my opinion no where near ending.
I believe that there will be many more small and medium sized gardening center shutting their doors over the next few years than opening them. I believe that gardening will continue to decline in importance with the general public, and that the number of gardening magazines and other paper publications dealing with horticulture will continue to decline. I also believe that the mega stores will continue to have the lion's share of the gardening publics money and attention.
Here is the good news. While gardening may be declining with the general public, it will gain in importance with a smaller more enthusiastic segment of the population. While gardening publications printed on paper will continue to decline, the growth of individuals and business that publish information electronically will grow. Just look at all the garden blogs sprouting up. The need for information is still there. And while there will be many more smaller nurseries closing than opening over the coming years, the ones remaining will be venturing into a exciting and completely new arena that holds lots of possibilities. I believe that the remaining garden centers will become centers of activity for the communities they serve and will thrive in that atmosphere.
We are witness to some big changes coming down the road, and it will take a certain amount of boldness, and playful craziness to survive and thrive. So yes, you have to be a bit crazy to open a garden center and that's going to be a good thing.