I want to address Jays concerns with my last post, Reducing inventory while increasing sales. Jay says,â€œThey (the chain stores) offer the most popular items which account for the major percentage of their sales and give up the opportunity to sell slow moving items (which either donâ€™t contribute to profit or do so minimally).â€ He continues, â€œThe downside to this is that the shopping experience becomes homogenized. Walk into any Box and itâ€™s predictable.â€
I agree with Jays assessment of the homogenized shopping experience that is encountered at these stores. I don't however think that by simply reducing the number of items you carry will make you become homogenized like the chains. The very nature of being independent allows us to pick and choose which items we carry. The only way you can experience a homogenized experience at my store would be if I choose the same items that my local Home Depot carries. We don't! I choose in most cases to buy from those suppliers that do not service the chain stores. My goal is to give you the anti-homogenized experience.
My goal with the last post was to suggest that we in the small garden center business sometimes try to carry everything, just like the old fashioned hardware store that Jay mentions. We have the oldest continuously running hardware store west of the Mississippi right here in Placerville. Placerville Hardware is a joy to visit. Exactly what you would have expected Grand Pa to shop at. Pot belly stove, hundreds of drawers with all sorts of nuts, bolts, etc., wood floors, and those cool ladders that run along a rail so they can get to the real high stuff. Tourists stop to visit and spend money. The locals do too, but not to the extent that it would survive strictly on local business. The tourist traffic on Main street keeps this store alive. It's more like a living museum. It's not making it because it has every little thing you want, it's making it because it appears to carry every little thing you want. Its a representation of what we picture the â€œgood 'ol daysâ€ to be. Locate this store off of Main St., away from the tourist trade and I doubt it would still be operating.
I think that re-creating the old fashioned nursery atmosphere is a viable business model. The kind of store Grand Ma would have shopped in. It doesn't mean that you would have to carry every item an actual garden center would have carried in those days. The competition for the gardening dollar makes it impossible to compete with the infinite selection available through the Internet or a well stocked chain store these days. So yes to re-creating the ambiance or feel of the old fashioned garden supply store, but to try and carry everything that they would have in those days won't work now. They didn't have box stores or the Internet back in the "good old days".