I think many independent garden centers are trying too hard to be "mini-box stores", carrying much of the same product mix. When you read something like this, or this, the writing is on the wall. Wouldn't it make more sense to carry brands that are not in the box stores, so as to set yourself apart? Now at Garden Rant we read, "this week, I was super-delighted to see the enormous rack of Burpee seeds in Lowe's. And even more delighted to see that a big portion of those seeds are organic. And pretty surprised at the incredibly low prices of even the organic seed--most stuff is under $2 a package. I bought lots." Soon you'll hear others saying, "I went to Home Depot and got those great "branded" nursery plants that are always so pricey at the indies. You have to check it out, the plants are in 'plain (unbranded)black cans', and they're cheaper". "Oh, and that cool Foxfarm Fertilizer that we we're told by the sale rep. would only be available in indies? It's at the Raleys Grocery Store chain now, cheaper."
This is the way it is! No time to be angry. Really, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We need to find a different path if we are going to stay viable businesses. There are places that are doing it, but for many time is running out. It's never to late to change. The time is now to re-create our business with this in mind. You don't own the "organic" market. Organics are showing up in the box stores, and people will eat it up. After all, isn't this what everyone was pushing for all along? Organics available to the masses? Who better to market the masses than the mass merchants? Organics are going mainstream, and if you built part of your business on organics, you just got huge competition.
The bar is being raised, daily. The markets we as independent garden centers built are being breached by the big boys. That's often how it happens. Who's next? And really, the mass of people don't care about us. They will head to the box stores, because the box stores have what they need in a convenient, clean environment. How do we not become the local bookstore? The local bookstore is going under, just as people are reading more than ever. What do we do, before that happens to your local garden center? And that bar that keeps getting raised? Why are we trying to jump over it? Let's find a different path, and bar to jump.