Maybe Sunset is right!

My last post on Sunset Magazines "Crib Sheet" on box stores vs. independents got me to thinking. Maybe what they are saying is true! I received a comment from Fern in which she said, "Quite frankly, they’re right. I would never buy a plain vanilla basil plant from the local independent nursery. They charge twice as much for the same quality plant. Likewise, I wouldn’t be able to afford to buy 20 boxwoods from them, if I needed that sort of thing. But if I needed something really spectacular, or unusual, an heirloom, something that was certified organic, or I needed to buy a plant that came with some advice, I would never in a million years think to head down to the big box place. Did you read the article and want to be annoyed?" Maybe I did! I grew up in the era of the one stop garden center. Back when I got started in the late 70's the only chain store competition we had was K-Mart, and they did a lousy job. People use to get ALL their gardening needs at a garden center. Now things have changed. Fern doesn't realize my herbs are the same price as the boxes.  It doesn't matter! The impression is independents are more expensive.

So that's my question for you. Was the Sunset Crib Sheet article the way we are viewed by the public? Are garden centers good for specialty items  and not much else? Don't get me wrong, it would make ordering and running the business easier if we focused on being great at a few things and ignored the others. Should we not even bother with herbs? Landscape shrubs and trees are the box stores realm?

I posted this question at our group over at Linkedin.  The question revolved around whether wholesale nurseries, like Hines should focus exclusively on boxes or independents. Just before filing bankruptcy Hines decided they would focus exclusively on the box stores. The differing needs of independents and boxes almost demand it. So that's my question for you. Should garden centers leave the landscaping shrubs and trees for the box stores? Should we be even be carrying gallon sized boxwood's? Herbs? Annuals? My annuals are way better than The Depot's, but does it matter? Perceptions.

This is one of the questions all of us in the garden center business want the answer to. What direction are we to go?