Out with the old.

Looking at the inside of the store I realize we have just too many different items for sale. In an attempt to please as many people as possible we bring in various products to sell. Somebody wants to know if we have “stump remover” and the next thing you know we have 12 cans sitting on the shelves all season. How many different types of fertilizers do we need to offer? Do we need five different ways to get rid of gophers? It’s just so easy to build your inventory up since you don’t want to see anyone leave without the product they came for. It’s never easy to tell someone you don’t carry Miracle-Gro and watch the look of dis- belief in their face as they leave.

What’s happened is there is so many different types of products on the shelves it confuses the new gardener. Looking at all the different types of fertilizers, where do they start? If we are not right there to answer their question they might just become so confused they don’t buy anything. Better to have a big display with lot of the fertilizer we recommend so they can’t miss it.

I got inspired to go through the store and eliminate 1/3 of our product line. If it doesn’t sell on a consistent basis it’s gone. I want to carry more of what sells for us and less of what doesn’t. It seems simple. “So sorry we don’t carry Scott’s Turf Builder, we have an organic lawn food that does a better job?” There either are interested or not. The chains sell Scotts at a very low price so why compete. Offer something better and be the store that’s different.

I believe that a lot of small garden centers are in the same boat. We try to be every ones favorite garden center by carrying a little bit of everything. The problem is we don’t know when to stop. “I don’t like this particular organic fertilizer, can you start carrying this one?” Now if enough people ask for it might be time to bring it in, but I am going to have to remove another product to make way. No more shelves with a gazillion items for sale.

Most any garden center could reduce the amount of product they carry by a third and not lose any business. We need to look at our stores from the eyes of the novice gardener. I think we get caught up in being horticulturist's and carrying every product that might come in handy somewhere in a person’s gardening life. That’s what I get to do today. Try to figure out what products just don’t sell and which ones we need to carry more of. It’s kind of a “spring cleaning” in summer.