03 September 2010
IGCs - Independant Garden Centres
There are a couple things (actually more but I will just rant about a couple) they could do to draw more customers. The first is offer classes! Yes, some of the local garden centres do offer classes like Salisbury and Greenland (I took a pruning course from Greenland) while others seem to be ignoring the potential for customer diversity. One in particular has loyal customers, retirees mostly, and a few younger but that is their customer base. Wouldn't you want to diversify? If you want to bring in the younger set, you need to offer something more. Sure they have well-cared for plants but so do the other greenhouses. If you could take courses locally rather than travel a few kilometres for them, wouldn't you do that?
Websites. Some are pretty good. Greenland, why did you change yours? The previous site was easy to navigate, had a nice photograph of the indoor garden and offered a visual tour, particularly nice at Christmas. When something is good, why change it? The new site is less attractive, less visual. Entice me to go to your store! It's good to see Kuhlmann's has changed their site. It is much more attractive and easy to navigate. If your site, though, says coming soon....well, when exactly is soon? You need to stay on top of these things otherwise customers get bored with it.
Might I suggest having a blog? Manhoney's Garden Centre in the States has a great blog and their site is very informative. Blogs can be used to advertise specials, spotlight plants, announce change of hours, announce opening of Christmas Store, etc.. You get the idea. Bring it home to the customers and potential customers.
That reminds me. Be sure the information on your site is accurate! Millcreek Nursery has some inaccurate information on their website ie. Crimson King Maple grows much larger than what they have stated on their site (18' x 12' according to their site)!
http://www.millcreeknursery.ca/ One nice thing about their website is they offer the option of creating a shopping list of plants using their site to make selections and compile it online.
Here are links to a few of my favorite local garden centres and their sites. What do you think?
http://www.greenlandgarden.com/treesshrubs.htm/ Greenland Garden Centre offers a newsletter and members receive a colourful mailout with each season. Greenland has an expansive assortment of trees, shrubs, roses, annuals and perennials. Membership includes a 10% discount on purchases. Join the Garden Club for $20/year. Open year-round.
http://www.holesonline.com/ Jim Hole and his brother Bill both contribute to a weekly newsletter for email subscribers. Holes is moving the greenhouse to a new location offering a unique experience to shoppers. Called the Enjoy Centre. It is the new up and coming! Can't wait. This centre will include not only Hole's Garden Centre but a spa, and other enticing shops! Holes is open year-round.
http://www.kuhlmanns.com/ No blog or email newsletters. They do mail out open house announcements. Kuhlmann's is open year round and offers fresh vegetables and fruits in season in addition to an extraordinary collection of annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs as well as vegetable and herb plants. They also participate in the farmer's market.
http://www.salisburygreenhouse.com/ Salisbury sends out occasional newsletters to email subscriber. Well-known for their fountain collection. They are open year-round and also participate in a farmer's market.
www.wellingtongardencentre.com/ Wellingtons site is easy to navigate but focuses on statuary, fountains, and decorative planters. They offer an email newsletter which is confusing to sign up for.
What others say about Wellington: "Walking under the entrance of Wellington Garden Centre is akin to falling down the rabbit hole. But instead of wacky wonderland, you land in gardening utopia. Amidst a park-like setting of gardens, there's a village of cute shops disguised as cottages that feature luxury gardening accessories..." Avenue '08
"Visiting this garden centre is like strolling the grounds of an old chateau!" Style at Home '07
Wellington is owned by Barry Lastiwka (Horticulturalist,) and Rosemarie Stepanko (Family Physician cum gardener,) who are delighted to share their life passions with you... awe-inspiring gardens and a store full of fantastic French treasures!
The previous list is only of my favorite garden centres. Edmonton area has quite a few garden centres including Root Seller, Whitemud Landscaping and Garden Center, Canar Rock Products Ltd, Ellerslie Gift and Garden Centre, Dunvegan Gardens (AB) Ltd. I am likely missing some. If you'd like a mention, please comment on this blogpost.
So, do you have a compliment or suggestion for your local independant garden centre? What are your issues?
I enclose here a link, "Dear Independant Garden Centres...." , a letter to all garden centres owners and management. Every garden centre owner/manager should read this!