Thursday, August 27, 2009

Where Is The Line For E-mail Promotions?

I get several daily e-mails from various sources. My favorites are news-based e-mails, like Retail Wire. These are super helpful to me and the information we need to get to our readers.

The e-mails that make me groan on a daily basis are the promotional ones. I can see the desperation of the major retailers just growing exponentially as places like Kohl's, Amazon, New York & Company, Athleta (now a division of Gap) and others hit my personal inbox on a near daily basis. It's a minor annoyance, but one that may force me to opt out of those, despite the sometimes appealing savings I may get out of an e-mail blast.
So my question is how often is too often? Daily is borderline stalking when it comes to "sale" e-mails, in my opinion. No one shops that much, so there's no reason to tell me about the sales on your website or in your store on a daily basis. Is weekly acceptable? Or twice a month?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Post In Pictures

It's not often you find a Today's Garden Center blog post filled with Smart Cars, "grass knuckles," abandoned newspaper boxes and late rapper 2pac. So when you do, you better take advantage.

A couple weeks ago, I stopped into Gali's Garden Center to pick up some potting soil on my lunch break. Katie (cashier) showed me a picture she took on her cell phone (pictured above). I had to have it. So she emailed it to me and voila. I know Mini Coopers are getting into crossovers/SUVs, maybe Smart Car should take a hint and think about pickup trucks. After all, city dwellers need utility vehicles, too.

"Grass Knuckles." Almost as impractical as loading up a Smart Car with a tree. Product designer Hafsteinn Juliusson has created living jewelry. But don't expect to see this while ordering a Bacon Turkey Bravo at Panera. This is more for the uber earth-conscious celebrity on the red carpet, like Natalie Portman or Leonardo DiCaprio. There are pussy willow earrings, too.

Lastly, this photo of an abandoned newspaper box potted up reminds me of the late rapper Tupac Shakur. Wait for it...wait for it... Along with rapping, Tupac was a prolific poet. His collection of poetry is called "The Rose That Grew From Concrete." There's the connection. This pic is definitely a bright spot on an otherwise blah and dreary city sidewalk.

Toronto-based street artist Posterchild is responsible for this work of urban art/guerrilla gardening.

In a recent Pop-Up City blog post, Posterchild was quoted, "I’ve always been amazed by the state of most flyerboxes. Some haven’t been filled in years. Yet, there they are: everywhere in the city taking up valuable sidewalk space. For whatever reason, a great many of them offer nothing but an empty box. But that offers a great opportunity for some people! The boxes makes a perfect platform for planters – and with them you can guerrilla garden almost anywhere in the inhospitable concrete city!"

By the way, the Pop-Up City blog is one of the coolest I've ever seen. When you have a second, check it out.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Jo-Ann's Rewarding Best Customers

I just read this short item about Jo-Ann Fabrics. I'm not sure what I think about this promotion. Does anyone have any thoughts, comments, ideas for ways to translate this to garden retail? It seems like this could have some application in the independent garden center, but in a more creative way.

Jo-Ann Launches Promotion to Celebrate Anniversary
HUDSON, Ohio--Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts Stores is marking its 66th anniversary in business with a special offer.
The sewing- and crafts-products retailer will designate 66 of its best customers across the nation and give them $100 Jo-Ann gift cards from their local stores. Travis Smith, chief operating officer, said the campaign is a way of saying thanks to some of its most loyal customers, and a recognition of their creativity in making their own crafts and fabric items.
Founded in 1943, Jo-Ann now has more than 750 locations across the United States.

Monday, August 3, 2009

More From PANTS

I didn’t get a lot of opportunity to walk the floor at PANTS, but I did get to visit a few booths before our Revolutionary 100 panel discussion. I stopped at the Organic Mechanics booth, which is a line of organic potting soils. This company has private labeled soils for American Plant, an all-organic, multiple-store garden retailer in Bethesda, Md. It also just launched a new all-organic planting mix to add to the line. That will be available in Spring 2010.

I also saw a new option for growers and retailers looking for biodegradable pots. Fertilpot is a spruce fiber pot that allows roots to poke through the pot. Consumers plant the whole thing in the ground. There’s also a shrink-wrapped label that can be branded or it can have generic variety information on it. The shrink-wrapped label gets torn off and can be recycled.

At the Spring Meadow Nursery booth I learned more about Bloomerang, a new lilac variety developed by breeder Tim Wood. It’s a dwarf lilac that reblooms three times - once in spring, once around July and then again in the fall before the frost. Amazing, right? And it retains its well-known scent. Initially it was to be released in Spring 2010, but apparently it’s growing so well that some could be available this fall from some Gold Key growers.

And finally, I heard more about Nema Globe, a new product being introduced from Canada into the U.S. It’s a retail version of nematodes to prevent pests, and can be mixed into a Nema Globe nematode sprayer to be watered into a lawn or garden. Nematodes don’t harm pets or children, and are friendly to beneficial insects like bees or earthworms.

Great Ideas From PANTS

We conducted our first Revolutionary 100 Panel discussion at the show and it went great. The panelists were Steve Gallion from Stauffers of Kissel Hill, Denni Jones from County Line Landscape Nursery, Stephen Barlow III of Barlow’s and Frank Fernicola of Fairfield Garden Center.

One big highlight included Frank’s before and after pictures of the inside garden center store that received a coat of white paint this winter. It was amazing, appearing as though he adds tons of new lighting. But all they did was paint the ceiling and support beams white and lower the sight-lines of the fixtures a couple of feet. What a difference!

The panelists also talked about their plans for 2010, which for three out of the four included reducing inventory in the area of big-ticket items like statuary and furniture. They also talked about shoring up labor to make sure they’re watching labor costs, as well as using events and educational seminars to promote gardening. Denni Jones focuses heavily on relationship-building with customers via her e-newsletter and direct contact with customers. Barlow’s has begun to focus more on children’s activities and events in the hopes of bringing in families and moms to shop.

And finally, Stauffers of Kissel Hill has used a program called a detached-address label through its local Clipper coupon book to mail out direct-mail pieces at a fraction of the cost of a regular direct mail piece. To learn more about this program, click here.