I thought this post has a lot to offer the smaller independent garden center, even though it involves bookstores. Recently Borders cut it's inventory by 5 to 10% and saw it's sales increase by 9%. What they did is start placing more of their books on the shelves facing with the cover out, rather than with the spine of the books showing. I love this stuff. It's not about the volume of books you have, but rather how you display what it is you do carry.
This method assumes that maybe most people don't know what it is they have come into the store for. They may have a basic need, privacy from a nearby neighbor, or they want to try vegetable gardening. It's up to us to show them all the possibilities for reaching this goal, in ways that they may have never thought off.
This is a very hopeful way to think of our business. Realizing that the amazing choices that are available from Amazon.com or some cool mail order nurseries is a great thing, but doesn't resonate with everybody all the time. There are plenty of people that really don't need a large selection of varieties, but are looking for new ideas, excitement, or different way's of using the varieties that we do carry. More and more I feel that the small garden center shouldn't be about just stuff to buy, but rather a place that inspires, rejuvenates, and surprises with every visit. Do that and sales will follow.