There is no lack of motivational ideas for turning your garden center business around. The most recent was in Garden Center Magazine. Titled, "Take a good look in the mirror", it's " how to work through the major industry challenges, such as marketing to young homeowners, and keeping websites current." These are good tips that should be followed as a matter of course.
Sometimes the best course of action is to quit. Today I head from another nursery that is closing after three years in business. The owners say they are tired of working so hard, only to find themselves in a hole. Likely their choice of closing now is the best decision they could have made. The old garden center model is dying, and these people are going to head in another direction. They will look into opening a smaller garden shop closer in town where they will have a larger pool of people to work with. They will also start growing vegetables for the local market. This can be done through farmers markets, the small garden shop, or subscriptions. These people knew the direction they were headed wouldn't work anymore, so they quit.
I am afraid many of us in the trade beat ourselves up mentally and physically trying to run our businesses according to what worked in the past. You can only beat you head against the wall so much before it really starts to hurt. More and more I am convinced the future for the small garden center is outside the traditional supply chain and trade think. Much of that supply chain and thinking is a result of the past ideas on how garden centers operated. However, we are entering the "post garden center world". In a world of infinite choices why would we continue to think that trying to carry and sell "everything for the garden" would work?
What's the answer? I'm not sure, but the present course is not working so well for many in the trade. There is no shame in quitting, and moving on. In many cases it's just what's needed to bring new ideas to the forefront. Somehow we need to get beyond the idea that quitting is failing. The future will be full of quitting, and starting anew. Just becasue we are entering the "post garden center world" doesn't mean that people will stop gardening! They will still need gardening supplies and places that sell those supplies. In most cases though, it won't be from a "garden center". Ready?