Embracing change

The interest in gardening has never been more intense, yet we see more and more wholesale and retail nurseries closing. What's up? I don't think the interest in gardening overall is growing, just certain aspects or gardening. Our sales this year indicate the change. The interest in our "little neck of the woods" is in consumables, and color spots. Just try selling Japanese Maples or ornamental conifers and you'll see what I mean. Sod sales are non-existent. Operations that catered to the landscape crowd are doing poorly, while nurseries that cater to the "home grown" group are doing better. Just ask my shrub and tree suppliers. Our sales are way down with these folks. We're happy with the change.  I enjoy helping people become more self-reliant. People will pay for vegetables, fruit trees, and the assorted items that help them succeed.  The younger crowd is especially interested in self-reliance. Generation y and z will spend money on gardening, but not so much the ornamental type of gardening. They are rightly concerned with their futures, and many see the answer in growing their own. This is reflected in magazines where gardening is discussed but not the center of attention. Backwoods Home Magazine, Mother Earth News, Backyard Poultry Magazine, Maximum Yield, etc. It's more about creating a self-reliant lifestyle than creating a "outdoor room."

As our country seems at times to be rudderless, people naturally want to steer their own course. The smaller garden center as a huge opportunity to be the place to help people reach their goals. My sales this year indicate that vegetables, color spots, soils, seeds, and fertilizers are where peoples interests are. People will pay a premium for local, expert information. It's been great to see first time gardeners coming back this year. They we're successful in their gardens last year and want to continue the trend. They do want to support locally owned businesses if you can supply them with their needs, and be there when they need help. The information part is so important. People want to connect with someone they can come to and know they will be steered in the right direction.

What a great time to be a small, locally owned nursery. Small, because you can change course quickly to suit your customers needs. Locally owned, because people want to know that the nursery they shop at has a vested interest in the community.