Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Ornamental Marketplace

I believe greenhouse bedding plant growers and garden center proprietors were in a bit of a panic mode last year, as the sagging economy seemed to loom disastrous for the upcoming ornament season. Much to everyone’s surprise, last year the consumer spent more on ornamentals than most expected. It was not a total loss.

This year so far seems to look quite positive. We gauge our opinion on the type of products ordered by our customers. Ornamental flower seed is running ahead of last year. This tells me that growers are trying to be a little more aggressive with greenhouse plant production. Our plug & liner business is running ahead nicely as well, and that seems quite positive too.

We as a company tend to specialize with the mid size to smaller ornamental grower. Most of our customers are growers and direct retailers. From the products being ordered this season, I think this spring is going to be a good one for those that sell direct to the consumer. For the bigger wholesale grower who is forced to deal with the big boxes, the jury is still out.

I believe the smaller direct retailer can do much more for the consumer than the big boxes. First of all, the level of expertise and technical support will always be greater. The smaller direct retailer also can provide more unique products, as the big boxes do not vary much from the tried and true; those products they know will have a following.

The smaller direct grower can and should have a closer relationship with their customers, making the buying experience one of total satisfaction. I believe the knowledgeable gardener looks to the standalone garden center for quality products and expert advice. That’s a leg up in my opinion.

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