Survival of the Independent Garden Center

Over at Garden Rant its mentioned that 70% of all lawn & garden sales are made at Home Depot, Lowes, K-Mart, and Wal-Mart. That leaves 30% of garden sales to be split between on-line internet sales and your local independent garden center.

This really shouldn’t surprise us. The future of retailing is being mapped out as we speak. Look at the landscapes on any new suburban street, and you can tell where people are getting their plants and garden supplies. Lawn, three birch trees, a row of Escallonia fradesi, and you’re done! Cheap, convenient, and 'good enough', are what fuels these businesses.

No sense crying about the facts of the market place. If you want to run a garden center you had better figure out quick how you are going to survive. Make no doubt about it, its survival were talking about. We just lost one garden center in Placerville, about 12 miles from here. It had been in business for over 20 years! The new Home Depot that opened up a block away from this center is doing just fine. You are going to see more and more smaller garden centers going under.

Before we cry for these garden centers we should realize that for the most part they killed themselves. It’s easy to blame Home Depot for their problems.

What are we going to do about this? First thing is to realize that the 70% of lawn and garden sales that are going to Home Depot are going to stay there. Your not going to peal off too many of these people to shop at your store. They like shopping at the chains! It’s convenient, open into the night, cheap plants that are ‘good enough’, etc.

Let those people go! Don’t even try to get them to come to your store. It’s time for independent garden centers to differentiate them selves and focus their attention on the 30% of customers that don’t shop at the chains. I have a feeling that the percentage of people that might shop at independents is even smaller than 30%. You will have an audience of 10 to 15% of the gardeners out there.

How do we get the attention of that 10% of gardeners that would be receptive to our offerings? I have some ideas, but my watering person just called and said he can’t make it today, Saturday. Monica and I have to get some watering done before we open. Ah, the life of a nurseryperson. We’ll come back to this.