An emphasis on a healthy lifestyle will set your garden center apart

Implement these trends into your garden center to create an enticing atmosphere to draw in consumers.

Integrating plants with displays of items relating to other healthy lifestyle choices will convey all of the benefits of plants and increase their perceived value. All images courtesy of Heidi Lindberg, MSU Extension.

Integrating plants with displays of items relating to other healthy lifestyle choices will convey all of the benefits of plants and increase their perceived value. All images courtesy of Heidi Lindberg, MSU Extension.

At the National Floriculture Forum in March 2017, participants visited Terrain Garden Center in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. The most distinctive feature about the garden center was the trendy, posh atmosphere of the store, which was emphasized by the unique product assortment. Michigan State University Extension explores the two factors that set this garden center apart from others.

Trendy, Pinterest-perfect atmosphere

If you have been on Pinterest, you will know what I mean by “Pinterest-perfect” design elements: chalkboards with different fonts, 101 uses for mason jars, urban chic décor and “hacks” for just about anything. Terrain Garden Center featured many chalkboard style signs throughout the store and emphasized how horticulture should be a part of a lifestyle of relaxation and wellness (Photo 1).

Chalkboard signs

Photo 1. Chalkboard style signs marketing exfoliation products.

House plants and succulents mingled with serving platters, chocolates, soaps and spa items in displays. Soft, trendy lighting was strung throughout the store and drew consumers to the back where consumers could enjoy a cappuccino on a chilly, winter afternoon (Photo 2). The lighting created ambiance at the front of the store as well: twinkle lights decorated a seasonal display and even offered seating for consumers looking to rest.

Trendy lighting

Photo 2. Soft, trendy lighting in the café in Terrain Garden Center.

Emphasizing a wellness lifestyle

Terrain Garden Center offered a unique product mix, not seen at many other garden centers. Terrain had an exfoliation station, soaking salts for a bath and a section devoted to superfoods, most centered or based on plants. Cook books or other lifestyle books were displayed next to many of these displays so you could learn more about these trends (Photo 3) where, again, much of the inspiration came from plants.

Beverage and book display

Photo 3. Display featuring beverage containers and nutritional, superfood books.

Playing to other trends, Terrain offered terrariums, a large variety of succulents and fairy gardens. The plants were even seasonally chosen: Irish moss since it was St. Patrick’s Day. One of the most interesting plants at the garden center was a cocktail tree. The cocktail tree had grafts of a lemon, lime, oranges and other citrus trees (Photo 4). (Too bad I could not carry that on a plane.) A cocktail tree appeals to those that have little space, are attracted to growing their own foods, and even plays off of the trends in the craft beer industry.

Cocktail tree

Photo 4. The “cocktail tree” was a grafted patio tree with three to six varieties of citrus (limes, lemons, oranges).

Terrain Garden Center was very effective in conveying that horticulture should be a part of a hip and healthy lifestyle. Individual retailers can do more to relay the importance of plants in peoples’ lives and show consumers how easy it can be to increase the use of plants through many product types. One new initiative was an infographic that was recently released by the National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture. The infographic conveys the green industry’s importance to where we live, work, shop and play. Check it out by searching for the hashtag #PlantsDoThat on social media. Use that free infographic to help demonstrate all the benefits plants can bring to a modern, busy, healthy lifestyle.

While all of these trends might not be right for your garden center, at least some may serve as an inspiration for more ideas that could help to diversify your independent garden center from other retailers and especially the big box store retailers.

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