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Being Creative - Organically!

Being Creative - Organically!

by Danny Summers (with inspiration from Laura Venable and Forest Lake Greenhouses)

Monday, April 22, 2024 - Earth Day:  As you have prepared for your Center’s Earth Day and Earth Day Week messaging, I invite you to share new-idea-worthy messaging (through our Marketing eList) where you have seen over-the-top reactions as you go through the week.  

The idea for this challenge came more than a week or so ago when I first saw Forest Lake Greenhouses’ email inviting their audience to “Celebrate Earth Day all week with Us”. In the message they introduced everyone to “The Garden Goddess” and invited them to have their picture taken with her on Saturday just prior to Earth Day (Monday).

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Going BIG in Big D!

Going BIG in Big D!

by Danny Summers


Do you know The Fall Event 2024 is heading to Dallas, Texas this September? If you don't know, either I have not been doing my job, or maybe you have not been reading GROUPtalk, or seeing any of my mountain of emails with my signature line to shout the event dates, or perhaps you have been distracted by other things. In any case, you know now!

I will begin by revealing the initial details below and will be sharing more of the entire program in the coming weeks. There are a few important things you should know now before you start considering your travel plans.

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The Garden Retailing Train

The Garden Retailing Train

by Danny Summers

If you have been receiving GROUPtalk for some time now, the image above and the title of this message may seem vaguely familiar, and you are correct. I first used this in August of 2021 with a slightly different title, "The Train of Garden Retailing." At the time, we had already been through the spring seasons of 2020 and 2021. I know you remember what that was like. It was a time of great change for all Garden Centers, adapting to new ways to do many things, in order to serve your growing customer audience.

In the August 2021 message, I began by saying, "At first glance this might appear as a strange combination...Train verses Garden Retailing? But bear with me as I share some thoughts I have had in recent months. This idea came to me as I was talking with prospective Centers who asked about what we do in The Group and why they should consider joining. Basically, "Why The Group?"

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Incredible Shrinking Transactions... and What to Do – Part 2

Incredible Shrinking Transactions... and What to Do – Part 2

by Sid Raisch

Incredible Shrinking Transactions, and What to Do - Part 2

by Sid Raisch

[Continued from Part 1 - Click to review from Group Blog]

The Garden Center Group’s 2023 P&L Study shows a continued trend of flatness of the three top KPI’s with nearly flat revenue, transaction counts, and average dollars per transaction (barely keeping with inflation). Of course there are the above average performing companies who lift this average, along with the corresponding below average performers. No matter which side of average a garden center is, this is an alarming trend. The most alarming thing is the slide, which began in 2008 at the start of the Great Recession and continued to 2019 (after a brief COVID relief in 2020 and 2021), has returned and it is sticking. The reason - Baby Boomers are aging out. The real reason? We as an industry are failing at replacing revenue from Baby Boomers.

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Founded with a Purpose

Founded with a Purpose

by Danny Summers

If you have been in the BWI (Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport) and in the A/B Terminal Food Court area, most likely you have seen the round coffee stand in the center of the area. It is Mayorga Coffee, a local coffee roaster in Rockville, MD (about 6 miles northwest of the Washington, DC beltway).

Having enjoyed my first cup of what I call Mayorga's flagship dark-roast, Cafe Cubano, I was determined to find where we could get more for our everyday java-fix.

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Invasive Plants?

Invasive Plants?

by Danny Summers

Being "in the industry" we know what this title refers to... In our world, a plant being termed an "Invasive Plant" says it is aggressive, multiplies at will and overtakes space from other plants, and disrupts the careful balance of the native landscape.

But the idea of this message is a positive one and an observation of seeing numerous images of plants making big impressions for products and people outside our industry.

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Incredible Shrinking Transactions... and What to Do – Part 1

Incredible Shrinking Transactions... and What to Do – Part 1

by Sid Raisch

I’m writing this fully knowing that some of you are going to be mildly irritated and full blown mad at me about it. But I will speak the truth as I see it and will ask you to either deny it at your own risk, or deal with it as effectively as possible. This isn’t only to define the reality of the problems we face, it is to offer a simple solution. The challenge isn’t having a solution. The challenge is to convince enough people to embrace the opportunity to accept it and to step forward decisively and boldly. It is also to ignore the naysayers and those who will stand in your way - our way.

Over 215 million Americans across three generations (Gen X, Gen Y aka Millennials, and Gen Z) now understand the critical importance of plants and pollinators for life and sustainability. They seek knowledge beyond what previous generations did, recognizing that neither big-box stores nor online searches can fully satisfy their quest. This awareness presents an unprecedented opportunity for the garden industry. If we keenly observe market trends and respond smartly, we can achieve our industry's highest aspirations. For those who might not find inspiration in this vision, it's a cue to step aside and watch as proactive leaders make impactful strides putting preparation for opportunity well ahead of hoping and wishing and blind luck.

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When the Press Calls

When the Press Calls...

by Danny Summers

Sometimes things just don't work out the way you first thought they might. That is most often the case When the Press Calls. About 2 weeks ago I was contacted by email by a writer with Associated Press (AP). The conversation began with...

"Hi, I cover small business for the AP, is there someone at The Garden Center Group that could speak to me about what challenges the industry is facing these days, i.e. high labor costs, volatile weather, etc. and what are some bright spots?"

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Be a Regular Guy or Gal

Be a Regular Guy or Gal

by Gail Vanik

This is a tale of two Garden Centers. I’ve owned both of them. The first was a small Garden Center in a rural area in small town America. Although we experienced some success along the way, it seemed like we weren’t able to grow sales the way I had hoped and projected. Since I had simply continued the marketing efforts of the previous owners – newspaper, a paper newsletter that was mailed monthly (sometimes), and a few print ads here and there, the frustration of “why isn’t this working when it worked so well for them” continued for several years. Overwhelmed with all of it, I admit I wasn’t much of a “regular gal” back then.

The second Garden Center was that same small Garden Center a few years later but by now the world had changed. Our sales numbers reflected that the previous owner’s methods were no longer effective. I switched things up, but more importantly, I made a firm commitment to a consistent schedule, even during times that were slow or when we had bad weather. Once I became a “regular gal,” things improved.

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Why is Robert Hayter So Busy?

Why is Robert Hayter So Busy?

by Danny Summers

We know how much Robert Hayter helps our Garden Centers. It seems like every week he is heading to one of The Group's Retail Centers to create renovation or facility development plans. If you hear him speak at The Fall Event, you also know he also touches a number of businesses he co-owns as well as businesses he helps outside of Garden Retail.

Did you know this includes the Golf Industry?

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Drumroll Please!

Drumroll Please!

by Danny Summers

THIS THURSDAY... our next GROUPtalk LIVE session, will feature Tim Quebedeaux presenting the results of The Group's Annual P&L Study for 2023!

It's a BIG DEAL!

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The Natural Connection

The Natural Connection

by Danny Summers

If you have been with us in The Group for some time I'm sure you think I am heading into either The Nature Fix or Emotional Marketing areas, shared in recent years.

The idea actually came from a totally outside source, but our two major programs have left their marks on my thinking. I guess you could call this a hybrid message. Or simply... an outside message with internal influence or flavor!

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Knowledge is the New Currency

Knowledge is the New Currency

by John Kennedy


As the Spring season begins to take shape throughout most of the US, and as IGC’s fill the new and returning roles of retail (hiring or re-hiring), this is the time to reinvest in training and development.

I recently had the chance to present a webinar for one of The Garden Center Group Partners for Success—Proven Winners, titled “Batter Up!” where we compared spring training in baseball to spring training in garden centers. The same “Back to Basics” approach is a wise way to kick start the body and the brain to ready for the season ahead.

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The Power in Collaboration

The Power in Collaboration

by Danny Summers

If there is one thing I am certain of, it is there is real Power in Collaboration. I see it nearly every day and certainly multiple times a week watching all of the sharing within The Group. It happens Peer-to-Peer (our Garden Centers) as well as with our Service Providers. It also happens with our Partners for Success and Fall Event Sponsors.

The Power in Collaboration comes in different levels. At the base level, it is sharing details that can help save time and direction. Time is saved by just not having to create or learn something from scratch. Direction comes through being capable of making the right decision the first time.

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A Choice of Two Roads

A Choice of Two Roads

by Danny Summers

At first glance, the image above may bring to mind a poem know by most of us... "The Road Not Taken", by Robert Frost. Frost, an American poet in the early 1900's, initially published "The Road Not Taken" in England before it was published in the United States. Known for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American word-smithing, Frost frequently wrote about settings from nature and life in New England.

"The Road Not Taken" was first published in America in the August 1915 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, and later published as the first poem in the 1916 poetry collection, Mountain Interval. Its central theme is the divergence of paths, both literally and figuratively. The poem ends with...

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Knowledge by Knumbers

Knowledge by Knumbers

by Danny Summers

OK, my spellcheck is not disabled. I wanted to intentionally misspell Numbers in order to grab your attention. If you are reading this now I guess it worked. ;-)

In general, Numbers is a big part of The Group Experience. Just from a "people point of view" when you consider our largest eList, GroupEs, has over 580 people subscribed to share all types of information. That's Numbers.

And at the heart of The Group Experience are two industry-exclusive programs that share Numbers – lots of Numbers. Both the Weekly Department Review (WDR) and the Annual P&L Study compile and share an amazing level of Numbers. By the way, you only have 10 more days before the deadline (February 15) for the 2023 P&L Study reporting. Don't miss your chance to be in the study and gain valuable insight from these Numbers!

Another important Numbers program begins this Friday, February 9th:

The 2024 Financial Basics of Garden Center Retailing Series

This February to October Series is starting its 9th year and believe me... it truly is Knowledge by Knumbers!





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How Will You Know?

How Will You Know?

by Danny Summers

These are your customers or guests in the coming weeks.

How will you know... what they are thinking?

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Visions of Oasis

Visions of Oasis

by Danny Summers

Last week, many of us, along with thousands of other industry pros, were in Ft. Lauderdale for the TPIE show. One word that was introduced during the General Session was WOW! That same word was also used by many as they explored the show itself.

Experiencing such a large expanse of our tropical world in one place creates a feeling of an Oasis. This message can be an important one to your audience.

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Are You All-In?

Are You All-In?

by Danny Summers

It's only the 3rd week of January but still a busy time of the year with a lot going on. Group Centers are well underway with spring preparations. At the same time, several important programs are getting underway within The Group. The first two are included with your annual retainer.

Weekly Department Review for 2024
While the WDR is now more than 20 years in the making, last year was the very first year it became an online, live system. Group Centers accepted and embraced the new experience by uploading 5,506 weekly reports! That represented an amazing 97.3% reporting rate! The 5,506 uploads created a tremendous amount of data that is now available for comparison in 2024 and beyond. Tim Quebedeaux has been working on formatting the reporting so that the 100% reporting Centers don't even need to include any of their 2023 data this year... we already have it, saving them more time each week. We encourage you to report every week and save time the following year!

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Building Balanced Inventory

Building Balanced Inventory

by Tim Quebedeaux

[The following is a message Tim Quebedeaux created and originally shared through Garden Center Magazine as part of their State of the Industry Report.]

Profit dies as non-perishable inventory ages...
but there are ways to keep it from lingering on the shelves.

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