Spring, that is. Summer officially starts at 1:05 a.m. EDT on Friday morning (or thereabouts). It seems like it’s been a long time coming, and what a strange spring it has been, weather wise.
I am NOT going to ask you how your spring has been. It’s your spring. You’ve come through it in some way, shape or form. Summer begs your attention.
But I WILL ask you this: Now that it’s over, what are you going to do about it? My suggestion is to call an impromptu Summer Solstice staff meeting and ask everyone for the good, bad and ugly of the past season. Quickly and informally, of course, with someone taking notes on a giant notepad. Don’t let the important lessons you’ve learned this spring slip out of your mind and off your radar. Capture them in the moment and revisit them when you begin your Spring 2014 planning in just a few months.
And because it’s a Summer Solstice staff meeting, ice cream may certainly be required.
Last week I asked you what’s selling in your store. Veggies, yes. Other stuff, too. Judy Mitchell from Mitchell’s Nursery and Greenhouse in King, North Carolina, is selling shrubs—and lots of them! They’ve sold two big shrub orders, and one of them with a bunch of trees in the mix, too. Small sales are plentiful, too—lantana, petunias, begonias, melampodium, geranium, New Guinea impatiens, marigolds and hanging baskets seem to be the best sellers.
Sue from Texas, who works at a nursery attached to a True Value hardware store, says they have been selling tons of gallon perennials this June. Tons! She threw in that exclamation point, so they must be selling well. She also runs the site FleaMarketGardening.org, where she says the big discussion has been using drought-tolerant perennials. Succulents, too, are in demand because gardeners use them in cool and funky recycled containers.
Making money at garden retail is a noble thing—you sell beauty and serenity, two things that are much needed in the world. Making a difference in people’s lives is also a noble thing, and that can be done through gardening, too.
GrowerTalks’s Jen Zurko—a faithful Chicago Sun-Times reader—sent me this LINK to a recent garden-related article. It’s about the hope of bringing a sliver of peace to a troubled part of Chicago through establishing community “peace gardens.”
“The idea behind the peace garden is simple,” says Mary Steenson, one of the people behind the establishment of these gardens. “If you replace broken glass and other litter on vacant lots with the natural beauty of lilies, daisies and other flowers, most people will respect it as a sacred space.”
Are there opportunities for your garden center or business to be involved in peace gardens in your area?
One last go-round at our ongoing “what guys buy at garden centers” discussion. Ellen Collins wrote in to say we may be onto something with this trend of guys buying more gardening stuff. In her own family, Ellen says, she’s had several nephews and a son buy homes recently and they all want to try their hand at gardening, mainly to cut down on the grocery bill and to prepare fresh-grown meals. Men gardening and cooking—who’d have thought!
Gardening isn’t the only category in which men might seem to have less interest than women. The gals have always held sway when it comes to purchasing high-style clothing and fashion accessories. But just as with the recent uptick in men’s gardening purchases, men’s fashion may also be seeing some increased action.
Take Romualdo, for instance. It’s a high-end tailor and clothier in the Cincinnati area. According to a recent Cincinnati.com posting, the decades-old clothing store has sustained 30% growth over the last five years. In a casually dressed world, how is an upscale fine-clothing store making it happen? In a few ways:
Says the men’s fashion designer behind the local lifestyle label: “The young set is getting into clothes more. There is a big trend for young guys to dress better and care about how they look.”
From our recent discussions here in Buzz, it looks like young men are caring more about their homes and yards. Perhaps some of the changes Romualdo has undertaken to appeal to younger customers could be adapted to the garden center market.
We have several Cheap Trick-esque ideas for you. This was spotted by GrowerTalks’ Chris Beytes:
At Blumen Gardens, in Sycamore, Illinois, they are masters of repurposing. Their indoor checkout area is a perfect example: stacked cinder blocks, with a few on edge to create cubbies. Their logo painted on the front elevates it from brick pile to high style.
Ball Horticultural Company’s Marvin Miller also sent along some photos of clever ideas for recycling or upcycling odd and unused items. Perhaps Buzz readers can be equally clever and use these for retail displays or perhaps as workshop ideas to do with customers, he suggests.
Have an upcycling or repurposing idea to share? You can send it to me HERE.
Just a reminder to act fast on the Early Bird Registration offer for the upcoming IGC Show in Chicago, Illinois, August 20-22. The discounts include $200 off the Know2Grow Retail Conference Passports and also a certain amount off the Chicagoland Garden Center Tour.
The Early Bird discounts end June 30. All folks who register by that date will be entered to win one of 10 iPads. For more information and to catch that Early Bird discount, go to www.IGCShow.com.
The 19th annual National Lawn & Garden Show wrapped up last week and several hundred lawn, garden and pet vendors and key buyers combined for more than 6,000 scheduled appointments. Some of the highlights of this year’s show are an increase in new and first-time vendors and buyers, and an ever-expanding pet products division.
One of the key benefits implemented this year was a vendor company loyalty discount program for companies that have consistently attended since the NLGS started back in 1995. For vendor companies with a shorter track record—at least three years of attendance—NLGS offers a graduated discount on registration.
Next year’s 20th annual NLGS is scheduled for June 10-12 in Denver, Colorado, conveniently located at the Denver International Airport’s Crowne Plaza Hotel.
It wouldn’t be summer without Ball Publishing’s Spring Trials Webinar Series. This year’s series takes place on three consecutive Tuesdays, all at 12 p.m. CDT. Dates and topics are:
Chris Beytes and I will be your hosts for all three webinars, and we are hard at work to make it both informational and entertaining. Sign up for one or all by visiting www.ballpublishing.com/webinars.
That’s all I have for you this week, friends. I’ll be back again next week with more great info. Speaking of which, if you have anything you’d like to share in Buzz—or just want to say hello or give me your two cents on something—you can drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,
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