The picture shows the "garden center" at our local Whole Foods. They have had the metal racks with the plants on them in years past. They have sold soil amendments, too. This year was the first time they decided to put their banner up proclaiming the front of the store a "garden center".
It's come to the point where anyone selling a few plants or soil amendments can call themselves a garden center. As the younger generations and new gardeners start to experience their first "garden center" the idea of independent garden centers will diminish. Who needs a real garden center when they can buy the organic, locally produced vegetable starts at the grocery store (garden center).
This trend is here to stay. It means the number of independent garden centers will continue to decrease as businesses attach small garden outlets to their stores, and call them garden centers. The memory of what garden centers were will soon fade, as more and more of us buy our garden supplies at Whole Foods, Costco, The Farmers Market, Home Depot, Trader Joe's, The Hardware Store, The Hydroponic Store, online, etc.
Yes, there is still room for indie garden centers, but their numbers will be much decreased. The new era of garden retailing is here to stay. Where do you and your business fit in?