Top 5 Challenges for Independent Garden Centers

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Trying to keep displays looking fresh, customers happy, and merchandise stocked can be difficult when dealing with live goods. Maintaining a thriving independent garden center requires a different approach than running a chain store. The following are the biggest challenges facing independent garden centers and ways your business can overcome them.

1. Weather

Weather can often be unpredictable and can easily damage displays. The spring season can be one of the rainiest times of the year. The fall and winter can also pose challenges if choosing to store displays outside with snow, ice, and temperatures that drop dramatically at night.

  • Solution– You’ll need to select displays that will remain strong and sturdy in a variety of weather conditions. Wood displays often warp, shrink and crack when used outside. Sturdy HDPE plastics that are UV resistant are better equipped to withstand all types of weather conditions as well as extreme temperature changes. You may also want to consider investing in an SPC Retail® Waterbed™, a self-watering display system that easily keeps plants hydrated during the summer months.

2. Competition

Keeping your customers interested and coming back on a regular basis is an ongoing challenge. Competition is becoming more intense as an increasing number of large-scale retailers and online businesses sell lawn and garden supplies. It’s crucial to stay one step ahead of your competition.

  • Solution– You’ll want to put together engaging displays that are suitable for each season while keeping in mind the geographical area your store serves. What types of flowers and plants grow well and are currently popular? Making sure your displays are personalized to meet the needs of your specific customer base is crucial to staying competitive. According to Washington State University, independent stores usually can’t compete with chain stores on price. This means focusing on higher quality, niche areas that are important to your customers, and backing up products with a guarantee.

3. High Operation Costs

Maintaining high-quality equipment and displays can take a large chunk out of your operating budget. This can include not just the initial purchase, but keeping them looking new and clean.

  • Solution– Selecting high-quality displays that will last for years is necessary for cutting operating costs. It’s important to look for displays that don’t need to be painted and require minimal upkeep.

4. High Labor Costs

Labor is one of your biggest costs in the garden business. Setting up displays as well as making sure they are safe and functioning properly can be time-consuming for employees. This can keep your employees from spending time working directly with customers.

  • Solution– It’s crucial to invest in displays that are easy to put together and don’t require any tools if possible. Displays that are quick and convenient to set up and don’t require much maintenance means your employees can spend more time caring for products and working with customers.

5. Marketing and Advertising

Television advertising, glossy catalogs and interactive websites can all be costly methods to promote your products. Marketing budgets, especially for small, independent retailers, are usually limited.

  • Solution– Beautiful displays that draw customers in and keep them talking about their experience are a great marketing tool. Encourage customers to create gardens and flower beds based on your displays. Instagram and Pinterest can be a great way to gain free advertising if your customers use a specific hashtag or mention your store. You can also create your own how-to video that’s posted on YouTube or your website.

To keep your garden center as attractive and customer-friendly as possible you need a wide range of high-quality displays that are sturdy, versatile, and easy to assemble. SPC Retail offers durable displays made of recycled plastics that can be assembled without any tools. This means you’re not only going to have strong, beautiful displays that attract customers, but you’ll have products that are environmentally friendly. Contact SPC Retail for more information.

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