When I read this post about The Green Girls it made me think about winter in the nursery and how easy it would be to give up on keeping contact with my customers. Since sales go down late fall and winter why bother with the time and money to talk to people about something they most likely won't do until spring. An article in the e-news about dormant sprays, or a workshop on punning fruit trees is only going to bring in so many people and dollars. Why bother. Maybe like the ladies who write the garden column we should just close down and start fresh in spring. Just like in the garden the real work begins in the mind, and what a better time to think than in the fall and winter. Now is the time to kick ideas back and forth. Sure we all slow down and take a breath, but that doesn't mean that we can't still "garden in the mind" if we can't in the ground. We still send out e-news and snail mail newsletters during the winter. Not as many, but we do want to stay in contact. Why would I only care about my customers when the are in the shop spending money? If getting people interested in gardening more is a matter of educating them then my best chance is during the winter when they might have more time to get involved.
I think that small garden centers have a greater opportunity to build a relationship with the consumer than the larger concerns. The future of small garden centers is to build such a strong relationship with the consumer that they spread the word of your business to their friends. WOMA (word of mouth advertising) is the best and really only way for a small concern like us to get the word out. To be able to generate that word of mouth we have to be better than anyone else in our area at what we do. We are, and are exploring ways to help our customers facilitate that information to others. Most of that "thinking" work will be done during the winter.
It might have been a couple of years ago when a number of garden bloggers wondered out loud what would happen with garden blogging in the winter. Would it just stop? No, it slowed down but never stopped as gardeners and professionals continued "gardening" via the internet. The internet allows enthusiasts separated by physical distance to continue the conversation via the blogs, and one place I know I want to be is where the garden enthusiasts are, the internet.