Finding businesses and people who have become successful by thinking and staying small is a pleasure of mine. "Small is cool" is about people and business who have found success by traveling a different path. The competition in the nursery trade is fierce, with the box stores bringing in the very suppliers that at one time we're exclusive to the independent channel. Trying to compete on their scale is impossible for most smaller garden shops, so we need to find a different way. I see examples of different businesses who have achieved some success, however they define it, by staying true to their beliefs and staying small. Today in SFGate an article titled, "Wine shops find success in thinking small"caught my eye. Wine merchants have many of the same concerns as garden centers might have. We read that, "of course, great wine boutiques have been here all along. But in recent years, those who deliberately chose the small path have seen customer loyalty survive even when the recession pushed a $60 splurge down to $20." It continues with, "supermarkets and large retailers like BevMo have always offered ease of shopping - although at times it feels like I'm staring at a long row of wines that came from the same big spigot. But buying wine is becoming more intimate. Customers are willing to pay for expert curation."
So while the big suppliers like BevMo and Costco will always have a market, these wine merchants in the SFGate article have found a way to survive and thrive by, "...downsizing. Similar to what happened on Bay Area wine lists, buyers decided they didn't have to be all things to all people. Stores could be smaller, which meant lower rents and the chance to do one thing really well." Some garden centers are starting to see this, and are headed in that direction. Should you?