Things are looking up

Before Christmas the mood in the retail world was certainly downbeat. I would say the mood is still rather downbeat, except for one notable exception, the retail garden center world. Over the last few years the reatil garden center business has been hit with a steady barrage of seemingly negative news. People just wanted someone else to put the landscape in, (DIFM). Generation X and Y are not interested in gardening. Celebrities told us that , "you can go to the home improvement stores and buy 4-foot pavers, and, as long as you can lay them on sand with no grout. Fill them with crushed granite, and you have yourself a patio!”. Boy have things changed in just a few months. Now it's "I'll do it myself", generation X and Y are embracing gardenng, and the celebrities? We'll, you decide. What is so refreshing is we have been talking about how wrong these "trends" were years ago. Here is a blog post from 2006 concerning, homogenized gardening.

I can't remember where I read it. Someone was thinking about opening a garden center. All their friends we're telling them they we're crazy to start a small business in this economy. I would have to say the friends are crazy! I can't think of a better time to start a small business, especially a garden center. What other business addresses the needs of people in these days so well? Start a "green" business? Can't get much greener than a place that sells plants and trees. Want to keep you money with locally owned small business? The locally owned small garden center. Want to grow your own vegetables and fruits? You have to buy them somewhere. The local garden center. Sustainable business? Our offerings not only sustain, but grow in value for the customer and improve the environment. Home values have dropped, so you can't sell you home anytime soon. Why not fix up the house and make it a home, complete with a garden that makes all the worlds concerns seem a "world" away? Who can help with this? The local independent garden center.

Not all boats in the horticultural world are rising in this climate. I would not want to be in a landscaping business in this area. Home building has slowed to a crawl and it looks like DIFM (Do it for me) is being replaced with IDIM (I'll do it myself). There are still lot's of wholesale operations that are in trouble. Those that depended on the landscape trade, and service the box stores are in trouble. The box store scene will in my opinion be dominated by one or two growers (Color Spot and Bonnie?). The box stores will have their own exclusive growers that service them, and most likely not the independents. We have been talking about this trend here for the last few years, and it seems to be playing out. Growers will have to decide which boat to board. Box stores or indies?

I am excited about the possibilities that await.  Who would have thought that one of the few growth areas in this economy would be the smaller independent garden centers? Some of the old timers told us that in slow economies people return to the garden. We we're are told that this time however things would be different. Gardening was on the way out, and garden accessorizing was in. Vegetable garden? Naw, give me a wide screen outdoor TV to put next to my built in BBQ. Add some throw pillows and your done. Times have changed.