I am excited about the opportunities that exist for small garden centers in the upcoming year. A couple of things have happened over the last few months that give me reason to be upbeat. First is the economic problems that exist. People are cutting back on their expenditures, only buying what they need. â€œNeedâ€ is a loaded term. What one person â€œneedsâ€ to get through the day, may be looked at as a luxury by someone else. With less money to spend on big vacations or extravagant expenditures one realizes what is really important. Since the house is most likely worth less than what you paid for it, you might as well not look at it as a asset. Instead look at it like it should have been looked at all along, as a home. A place to live and enjoy life, not to turn over after two years, and move on. With the realization that you most likely won't be moving anytime soon, we start looking for ways to improve are lifestyle right at home. A garden retreat may just be what does the trick.
Dovetailing with the macro-economic reasons, is a realization by many that where they spend their money matters. Do you want to continue having the option of visiting that great little nursery down the road, or do you really want to see nothing but Home Depots and Lowe's in town? The locavore movement is a part of this realization. We lost a great little restaurant on Main St., Placerville the other week. Poof, gone! I don't know the details of why they quit. We lost a great lunch spot.
The â€œgreenâ€ movement is another factor in my feeling for a positive year in the nursery business. Without going into details, every garden center should be able to position themselves as authorities on â€œgreenâ€. We are â€œThe Green Industryâ€. Smaller concerns will have a easier time with this than the larger corporations. The shear size of an operation like Home Depot precludes it from being â€œgreenâ€. No matter how hard they try to â€œgreenâ€ their stores, you can't compete with the smaller footprint of a dynamic â€œgreenâ€ nursery.
Finally, the desire to get and know who you do business with will benefit those that reach out to the community. How well can you really get to know a publicly traded company? The board of directors really want to be your friend! This is something that all generations, but especially generation Y, will embrace. Having grown up with Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter generation Y finds it very easy to gather information on anyone, and every business. Just being online won't help. You have to build â€œstreet creedâ€ before you are accepted. Jump in with advertising or spam, and your toast. That's what is so frustrating for the big corporations. They have a harder time connecting, and instead use the interruption marketing that worked for them in the past. AT&T, Discover Card, and anyone else that interrupts my day by calling me on my business phone, to sell something is just wasting their time. Same goes for spam and junk mail.
Four different reasons that I feel optimistic about the future of small nurseries. The economy, the locavore movement (which is bigger than just where you get your food), the green movement, and finally, the need to connect, understand, and make a difference within the community.