What would you do if a customer said they wouldn't shop with you because you carry “Round-Up”, or “Miracle-Gro”? Why? Because by selling these products you are supporting Monsanto. You might mention that Round-Up is not solely produced by Monsanto anymore, or that Miracle-Gro is not made by Monsanto, but they just don’t care. In their eyes, you’re selling these products makes you part of “the problem”.
This is a whole new challenge in the world of gardening business. Yesterday I had a customer start ranting about Monsanto, and how they would only plant heirlooms so as to “stick it” to the company. I didn't bother to respond as you could just tell they had made up their minds, and heirloom vegetables we’re the only way forward. What was interesting to watch was his son, approximately 9 or 10 years old, start ranting about Monsanto, too. You could well imagine what the conversation around the kitchen table must be like.
Rather than respond to each and every customers concerns, it might be wise to address this kind of stuff through your on-going dialog with your customers via social media, including in- store signage. If you have built up a reputation for truthful, fact based information you can spread this easier through your social media efforts, than one on one with customers who have “made up their minds”.
As our society becomes more and more fragmented into a million different causes and concerns, you will have to deal with all sorts of unforeseen consequences in your business. It will be easier to traverse this new world if you are sure of where you stand concerning what you sell. We choose the organic route as it’s what we believe in. We lose some customers when they ask for a specific synthetic fertilizer that we have chosen not to carry. Why not just carry it and make a few sales? Because it’s not who we are, and our fans know that. We send them to Home Depot, or the local hydro-shop.
At one time a garden center served the entire gardening community in a town. Now there are plenty of places for people to but their garden related stuff. Home Depot, the local hydro shop, Whole Foods, online, Costco, Payless, etc. Choose your theme carefully. It’s no longer just a 9 to 5 job you can leave behind at the end of the day. You will have to live it, or go crazy trying to please all the people, all the time.