On the Lookout for Innovative Garden Centers

We are always on the lookout for garden centers or nurseries that are trying different ways to do business. I am much more interested in a small nursery that chooses to create a new market or idea than a multi-million dollar face lift for some large garden center. It’s the small places where the new ideas come from that are eventually implemented in the larger concerns.

I thought it would be nice to find those places and see what it is that they are doing that’s different. Some of my favorite innovative nurseries no longer exist. They shot for the moon and missed. Oh well, at least they tried and often really new ideas don’t take off right away. So whether a nursery still exists is not important to me. It is the vision and willingness to be different that’s interesting to me, and so needed in our industry.

Surf City Growers got my attention when they were featured in Sunset Magazine. What I found interesting is they wanted to grow only non-toxic plants. I couldn’t find out if that is still the case but we did notice that they “have been certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This makes us one of the few organic ornamental plant growers in the State of California, and perhaps the only one on the Central Coast.”

The other interesting thing is owner’s husband and wife, Trent and Linda McNair are new to the garden center business. In their words “After a combination of 25 years in the high-tech industry, we made a decision to create a business that immerses us and our family in what we love and care about. We saw a need to make gardening simpler and more convenient for busy people, but also raise awareness about organic gardening practices. We also knew we could use our tech-savvy to do it. We don't claim to be experts, but enthusiasts. We are passing along the wisdom we've learned through trial and error, and we'll refer you to experts when we don't have an answer.”

Sure they are new to the business and haven’t experienced all the crazy things that go on, but I like enthusiasm and they are enthusiastic now. Sometimes the best ideas for this industry come from people new to the business. They haven’t become jaded. As far as growing organic, yes they are in Santa Cruz where you would expect something like this to start, and succeed. It was a bold move to go organic, even in Santa Cruz, but I think it’s something we will see more of around the country.

For being a nursery that got our interest they will be the first listed at my other web site “The Art of Running a Small Garden Center” . As we come across other innovative garden centers we will post them there.

If you know of such innovative places let me know. I have received info before from bloggers, especially the ladies in Austin TX about cool nurseries in their area. Let me know if you have one in your area we can feature.