The garden center industry has its ups and downs with all the outside factors that can hurt or help business. As a seasonal business, weather can greatly effect sales especially with late springs which shorten the season. They have to compete with growing big box stores and chains. Even the upcoming generations and younger crowd have become a struggle to reach.
It is no longer enough to sell plants, garden tools, pottery and accessories alone. Garden centers need to sell alternative garden products in order to attract new customers and keep them coming back in the off-season so that your garden center becomes a year-round business.
Today’s garden centers need to first be attractive with a pleasurable atmosphere, have themed areas and examples of finished gardening projects, offer advice to beginners and get active on social media to attract younger crowds. Besides these essentials, garden centers can have a wider variety of products, services, and special offerings in order to grow sales.
Pet products are an easy addition to your garden center because it appeals to your existing demographic. This can be a small section of pet food treats, bowls, leashes, and toys or you can go larger scale and offer dog beds, cat towers, and more. Some garden centers have even gone as far as to add fish and aquatics to their stores.
Bee Keeper Supplies
The save the bees movement is encouraging a lot of people to get into beekeeping lately. As pollinators, we depend on bees for keeping the world agriculture and flora market alive. The honey and wax we harvest from bees is also a renewable resource that we don’t want to see declining more than it already has. A small area for beekeeper supplies, especially if you know it’s popular in your area, could be a good idea to try.
Early on, as garden center owners realized they had to add more products to increase revenue, they probably started with small items and gifts near the checkout to reach the impulse buyers. Its success has led them to expand these areas immensely. As long as they appeal to your demographics, gifts don’t even need to be garden related. Gifts can range from personal care to entertainment, collectibles, dining and kitchen supplies, candles, and simple decor items. Customers especially appreciate a gift selection during the holidays when they come in to pick up some pumpkins or Christmas wreaths.
Why not take advantage of the kids that come in occasionally with their parents? A kids’ section can be a welcome distraction, keeping children from becoming bored and complaining when their parents are trying to shop. Kids will most likely also ask their parents to buy them things, so it’s a great way to up-sell.
A grocery section could be an extension of the gifts section, consisting of goods like olive oil, honey, herbs and spices, and other things with a long shelf life. Another option is to host a farmers market on weekends which will help increase foot traffic and bring you some revenue if you rent the space to local farmers. Some garden centers do a combination of the two and offer a small grocery and produce section all week long.
Larger garden centers have even gone as far as adding a cafe or restaurant. Eateries with locally sourced ingredients and with organic, vegan, or gluten-free menus are becoming increasingly popular. It takes a bit of investment to add food to your garden center, but with the right quality, taste, and atmosphere it could pay off more than any other addition to your garden center.
Especially for the younger generations it is important to offer educational content like workshops for beginner gardeners. Free classes will bring in revenue because you can not only teach customers how to garden, but you can also recommend specific products and packages. You can also offer more advanced classes occasionally for a fee.
To boost sales in the off-season, be sure to take full advantage of the holidays. Beyond the obvious Christmas trees and pumpkins, offer other merchandise to go along with the holidays, including gifts and holiday decor.
Similar to workshops, you can offer services like plant clinics and custom potting. A plant clinic can allow you to recommend products to customers that are struggling to keep their plants healthy. With custom potting you can work with the customer to pick out flowers and plants that work together, perhaps helping them make a container garden design.
Alternative Garden Decor
Besides just planters, you can have a variety of other ceramic decor items like figures and statues or animal-shaped pots, or even people-shaped pots and head planters.
Custom Projects and Kits
Also for beginners, you can sell items together as kits or sets that allow a beginner to do the work themselves but with a little help in selecting which products to buy.
Whether you try one or all of these new product categories, each one is sure to increase sales when done with some careful thought. Have you added products to your store recently? How did it do? Share in the comments below.