An interesting trend is starting to emerge in the garden center trades. According to Garden Center Magazine, "Master Nursery Garden Center members will be able to make merchandise purchases through Home & Garden Showplace, a business unit of True Value. The alliance will directly and immediately benefit Master Nursery retailers by providing Master Nursery Garden Centers the opportunity to purchase from among True Value Company’s 60,000+ warehouse-stocked products. For current Home & Garden Showplace retailers, the alliance will bring the ability to participate in Garden Elements, a proprietary program of Master Nursery Garden Centers including both a branded annual program and a new line of organic plant foods." A program for independent garden centers is now being offered through a hardware store chain. According to Greenhouse Grower, "True Value’s Home & Garden Showplace is working closely with their membership to provide more products and information on how to run a profitable garden center. True Value also recently announced a licensing deal with the Master Nursery group to help their members with more efficient buying and give them access to the Garden Elements plant brand. Look for these hardware companies to open hundreds of new garden centers over the next several years." Hundreds of new garden centers over the next several years. These will be garden centers attached to the hardware store, not stand alone garden centers. This of course follows the trend set by The Box Stores with their own garden centers.
There may be something to this trend of garden centers as a part of a larger overall theme. As the nursery industry continues to real from the recession, and stand alone garden centers continue to close down, this trend has room to grow. In many locations across the country people want to garden, but not in the numbers required to sustain many of the stand alone garden centers that exist today. A return to the one stop, local hardware store/feed store/garden center may return. The key is in having a garden center that looks like it wasn't just an after thought to the main business of hardware. Does this mean the demise of stand alone garden centers? No, but it does foretell of a time soon when their are a lot fewer of them.