Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 70's one of my favorite beers was one known as Anchor Steam. It was so different than the run of the mill beer like Bud and Coors. Rich, dark, and robust I had no idea that the Anchor Brewing Co. was the first micro-brewery. They would be the first in what would be a Renaissance of the brewing art's in America. Over the last three decades the micro-brewery craze has grown. It has changed many peoples idea of what a good beer is, as well as created a mystic around the idea of Micro business. Small, efficient, all about quality, and run by a small crew, these micro-breweries are an example of what might happen with the nursery trade. Recently we have decreased the size of our outside area at the garden center to better reflect the change in our customers habits. More vegetables, flowers, and perennials, and less in landscaping shrubs and trees. We no longer need the extra acreage, and wanted to shrink the frame to fit the picture. So it was interesting to hear a speaker (can't remember who it was)at the ANLA Management Clinic say that most nurseries carried too much inventory for current conditions. They should reduce the inventory and move what the do carry more frequently. Create a higher profit per square foot is what he said.This get's me to thinking that what happened with the beer industry is what will happen with the garden center trade.You'll end up with the massive operations like Home Depot (Budwiser) and Lowes (Coors), and Wal Mart (Schlitz), and the rest of us small garden centers (Micro-breweries). We should covet the underdog role and rebuild our smaller businesses along the lines of what the micro-breweries did. Micro-breweries have tasting bars, someone to explain the differences in beer types, some form of entertainment on weekends, high quality product, and an independent spirit.
So rather than worrying about what the big boys are up to we should be quietly working away at bringing back the craftsmanship that was the nursery trade of old. Selling a higher quality product at a reasonable price. Creating an atmosphere of experimentation, and wild eyed enthusiasm for what we are building. Allowing that there is a place for the big boys and what they sell, but that's not us. Teaching the younger people how to build and create their own futures in horticulture. Really just getting back our mojo and actually promoting the fact that we are micro-nurseries. Soon the kind of people we want for customers will search us out just as beer aficionado's will search out their favorite micro-breweries. Sounds kind of exciting if I do say so myself. Cheers!