Our small garden business has sure changed over the last few years. Since we opened the nursery over five years ago the idea of what constituted a garden center has changed. Where as in the past we focused on ornamental's we now focus on edibles, or consumables. This was a survival move, and one that was made easier by being a small operation. The ornamental market here in northern California is decimated. In the past people would spot some cool ornamental plant, fall in love, purchase it, and then figure out where to plant it. Now the plant has to match a need the customer has. Screening a neighbors junk pile, providing shade, or preventing erosion, etc. Much less in the way of impulse sales. In this new world the hardest part for myself is letting go of past ideas of what a garden center means. With change coming faster and faster every year it's a good to be a small operation that can make those changes quickly. Being a small operation does not mean you can't have a big impact.Â Through the internet our reach grows every day, yet the physical operation actually gets smaller. This is a trend that I believe will continue. We prefer buying from smaller operations that are closer to our business model. The box and chain stores continue to consolidate who they buy from. It seems that soon only the largest wholesale operations will be able to service the box stores.
We have noticed an increase in people looking to buy from small, locally owned business. They even make a point of saying they are doing it. Perhaps people have finally seen the relationship between where they buy, and the local economy. Shop at the larger stores and where does the money go? Buy from your local, smaller operation and you can see the results. Of course you have to have what people want, and at a reasonable price.Â Pull that off and folks will respond.
Thinking of starting a small garden business? Now is the time. Don't wait for the economy to improve. If your idea has merit then it will work no matter what the larger economy is doing. If you can start and survive now, when the economy does improve you will have no where to go but up. More and more people are realizing that the only really work security comes from owning your own business. At least you know your success or failure is your responsibility, not some unseen bureaucrat at corporate headquarters. It is a bit scary at times, but so many good things come from doing things that are a bit scary. Fear is a great motivator.