Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Daydream On Elm Street

At the Cents Show late last month I had the pleasure of meeting a pretty cool Georgian, Jared Bookhardt from Sharp Top Trees.

Jared and Sharp Top Trees are all about bringing back the respect and prominence of the Princeton American Elm tree (Ulmus americana "Princeton"). "The reason there are more Elm Streets than Main Streets," these American classics are extremely resistant to Dutch elm disease.

Over lunch, Jared told me to check out his blog, which has a ton of great information and pictures. His blog also had this really cool link I wanted to pass along for an easy-to-use National Tree Benefit Calculator. Check out how much the trees you sell help the environment.

One Man's Trash...Flower Pot

A friend in the biz said these were kind of ugly upclose. I haven't had the pleasure to see them in person, but based on pictures and descriptions alone, I'm a fan.

Pots made out of recycled tires - Re:Treads. Officially titled Recycled Re:Treads Collection of Tire Pots, these hand cut and hand sewn planters are made of tires stripped of their tread and steel belts. And with almost 300 million tires scrapped per year, according to the EPA, River Market Pottery is trying to do their part to lighten the rubbery landfill load.

What's next, rubber mulch?

“One of the neatest things about the Re:Treads pots is that not only do they help to cut down on environmental waste, but when they are planted up and used for container gardening, they actually enhance the beauty of their surroundings," says Alec Junge, president of River Market Pottery. "It’s a great redemption story for what would otherwise have been a piece of garbage.”

Re:Treads are sold exclusively through http://www.flowerpotshop.com/. Check out their official press release here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Something To Pass The Time

So this will be the third time or so I've pushed to get the Gardening Mama video game into our news, and I'm not even a gamer. What's more, it's not even out yet...it's due to drop sometime in March. I found some screenshots...that's the reason for this entry.

Gardening Mama is coming out for the Nintendo DS gaming system. In it, players become Gardening Mama. You can plant seeds, flowers and trees, add fertilizer and even earn rewards for good gardening practices.

Borrow your kid's Nintendo DS, because in between filling out orders, this could be a nice filler during the quiet winter months for you (even for your antsy customers)...good practice. Click here to get some more info about the game that might actually turn your thumbs green.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Crocs Phenomenon

Four years ago, at my garden center job, I busted out an orange pair of Crocs for the busy season. You could see these things from miles away (not me. Mario Batali). They were gaudy and garish, and perfect for the garden center. Customers loved them. But that's a given. Gardeners love bright colors. If they didn't they wouldn't be gardeners.

For a few seasons, Crocs sold well for garden retailers...not so much anymore. It's a shame because Crocs did an excellent job exploiting the colorwheel. They were also great at giving customers choices, allowing them to stand out or just be different if they wanted to.

Luckily there have been some side effects from the Crocs Phenomenon.

Dramm's Colorstorm (pictured left) hoses, sprinklers, sprayers, etc. come in six different colors. Coleman Cable's Cool Colors (pictured right)extension cords line also comes in six not so run-of-the-mill hues.

And, of course, the Bosmere (below) Nutscene twine. I first saw these colorful tins of twine at Terrain Garden Center during the GCA Holiday Tour. This morning, Sue at Bosmere said these have been extremely popular sellers, and many people are using them for gift wrapping.
It's not too late to make sure your tool wall gets the bright and cheery "Spring's Here" memo.

As for me, I'm going down with the Crocs ship. I swear by them. Now I just need to decide on a new pair before the temps break 50. Purple, aqua or kelly green?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What's Your Game Plan?

I heard something very interesting this weekend at ANLA Management Clinic. At the Retail Swap Shop (and idea exchange session), the topic of social media sites like Facebook came up. Someone asked "What happens when a customer posts something bad about your business?"
A couple of people answered that since you get notified about all posts, you can delete it before someone else sees it.
I would challenge that and say think about it for a minute. The people who take the time to go on a business' Facebook page and post messages are probably pretty computer savvy. That means they know how social media works - and it tends to work on the notion of transparency.
There's a trust factor that whatever they post will stay there, because they visit hundreds of other peer-review websites that keep the bad and the good. If they know they posted it and come back later to see it's been deleted, you've lost their trust. You've also probably just lost their business.
Think of a negative comment as an opportunity. Other customers will likely respond to defend you. It may start a debate. You are free to go on and explain what happened or, if it was a problem on your end, offer a solution. It's an opportunity to show how you resolve customer issues. If a customer came into your store to complain, you wouldn't ignore them.
It's a new medium, and you have to think about it in a different way.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

They're Blogging!

There are garden bloggers all over the country, and their numbers are growing every year.

Apparently they don't just go online to talk about their gardens and post pictures - they also meet in person to share their common interests.

Do you know who the garden bloggers in your area are? And are they your customers? Wouldn't a garden center be the perfect place for garden bloggers to meet?

This is just one example of a garden blogger: http://www.gardeness.com/2009/02/you-gotta-have-friends.html

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Great 'Beginning Gardener' Story

The New York Times just published a great little article on how to begin gardening. We often forget in our industry that some customers walking into the garden center have never touched a plant or trowel before.

It would be worthwhile for retailers to have something like this on their websites to show beginning gardeners how to get started and be successful initially. A happy beginner will come back for more!

Read the story here.