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Bring Your Best

Bring Your Best

by Danny Sumnmers

At first glance at this title, you might think it could be encouraging you to "Bring Your Best" to work every day. Or it could be an over-arching goal for everything you do. And both should be a goal. But this title is directed toward all of the combined knowledge, experience, and perspectives we will have as we meet at The Fall Event 2022. If we visualize all of the people sitting in the opening session, many are seasoned Garden Retailers, some are new to their positions, and some are the very best suppliers we have in our industry. Then if you add all our team of Group Service Providers we have even more combined experience. But it's not just the most experienced people that add so much – it's also the newcomers to the business. The younger generation comes from other backgrounds and has new and fresh perspectives and ideas.

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The Power of Connection

The Power of Connection!

by Danny Summers

I believe the Power of Connection can mean everything! We saw first-hand what all of us being connected through The Group meant during the turbulent weeks in the spring of 2020. And even since then the Power of Connection has shown us much more. It enabled us to quickly pivot to react to the changing retail environment and needs of your Guests. It also provided results from these positive management changes through our Annual P&L Studies for both 2020 and 2021. The fact is your Power of Connection with 130+ peer Centers through The Group offers the unique resources many other Centers do not have.

The Power of Connection could also describe what we have witnessed over the past two years with so many people being drawn to the activity of gardening and having plants in their lives. Last year at The Fall Event 2021 we experienced The Nature Fix story by Florence Williams and why we all need more nature in our lives. This has not changed in 2022, even though sometimes weather restricts our opportunities. The Power of Connection with gardening and plants and their positive benefits should remain one of our primary focuses to share with everyone.

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Service Please!

Service Please!

by Danny Summers

Sir Winston Churchill once said, "We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."

This simply yet powerful statement emphasizes the importance of serving. Whether serving our family, our faith, our community, our country, or each and every person we see each day, the act of serving has great value. This also relates to every Guest that enters your Center. On May 2 of this year you may remember a message I shared titled "At Your Service". In that message, I said there is one thing you and your Team can do to begin... (Ok, actually 3 things)

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The Final Stretch

The Final Stretch

by Danny Summers

With a quick glance at the calendar and the Weekly Department Review (WDR) it is easy to see we are in "The Final Stretch" the spark for this blog post title. This has certainly been a different season, a late-arriving spring almost everywhere and when comparing numbers from the previous two years which both arrived earlier (and maybe stayed longer), we have had some year-to-date deficits to overcome this season.

I must admit I normally don't follow horse racing and normally don't watch the major races. We have enjoyed being with close friends who live in the Lexington and Louisville Kentucky areas in past years and have actually been to both Churchill Downs and Keeneland (just not on the big race days). Our friends Louis and Betsy Hillenmeyer have taken us to several of the farms around Lexington and we have marveled at the wonderful horses we saw there. But a few weeks ago when hearing the news following this year's Kentucky Derby, I realized there could be a correlation between the story of this year's Kentucky Derby unlikely winner and our Garden Retailing efforts this year. Here's just a little of the story of Rich Strike, the 1st Place Winner of the 148th running of The Kentucky Derby...

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Beyond the Boundaries

Beyond the Boundaries!

by Danny Summers

This week begins our roll-out of plans for The Fall Event 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. Let me start by saying I am confident this will rival the very best in The Group's history. Just think about the very best Fall Event you have experienced and know this will be even better!

It's all coming together in Kansas City... the location with so many wonderful things to do, our hotel and its character and location - just a block from dozens of great restaurants and shops, plus amazing Garden Centers to explore on Tour Day. Kansas City has it all and September 19-22 will be a wonderful time for all of us to share, learn and grow!

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What Matters the Most

What Matters the Most

by Danny Summers

This past week, I ran across a short story that I had seen and enjoyed before. I have seen it titled several different ways and always its author is listed as "unknown." It's Week 21 and this is some of the busiest times for you and your Center. It's Week 21 and this is some of the busiest times for you and your Center, but I hope you will take a few minutes to read (or re-read) this story of making time for what matters most...

When things in our lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

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Report Card Grade - Not Yet

Report Card Grade: Not Yet!

by Danny Summers

At first glance, you might think I am referring to Spring 2022 performance numbers and this title very well could be used to describe the late spring arrival and the numbers we are seeing in the Weekly Department Review (WDR). But I want to first ask the question... Have you ever heard of a Report Card Grade of "Not Yet"? I hadn't until a few weeks ago when I found a quote by Dr. Carol Dweck to use in the April 25th edition of GROUPtalk for the Quote of the Week. The quote is:

“The hallmark of successful people is that they are always stretching themselves to learn new things."  ~ Dr. Carol S. Dweck

Dr. Dweck is a renowned psychologist who introduced the world to the term “growth mindset”. She is the author of Mindset, a book that introduced the differences between a Fixed Mindset and a Growth Mindset. As I read more and even watched several presentations of Dr. Dweck's work and her research on having a growth mindset, I realized this is not just for children and their development. It applies to all of us.

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Hot Water in the Bathtub

Hot Water in the Bathtub

by Danny Summers

I know what you're thinking... What does this have to do with Garden Retailing?

This is a visual illustration of a concept I learned a long time ago. It relates to both balance of sale as well as ways to raise your overall margin percentages.

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At Your Service!

At Your Service!

by Danny Summers

The Spring Season is now in full swing across the country. I saw this first hand this past week as I visited many of the Garden Centers in the Kansas City area while making preparations for The Fall Event 2022. It is an exciting time!

To behold a Garden Center in its greatest glory, all decked out and busting at the seams in all of nature's beauty, and to see the excitement in every Guest's eyes and the expressions on their faces when they catch a glimpse of it... it's like a kid on Christmas morning.

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The Gold Standard - Gold, Hallmark & GMROII

The Gold Standard - Gold, Hallmark & GMROII

by Danny Summers

Gold has been a highly-valued precious metal throughout recorded history. Gold hallmarks originated to show the purity of gold in a piece of gold jewelry and included the mark of the certifying office that guaranteed the purity as well as the fineness or caratage of the gold. Later, trademarks that showed which goldsmith had manufactured the product were added.

Hallmarking gold jewelry was Europe's earliest form of consumer protection, dating back to King Louis IX of France and Edward I of England in the 1200s. As craft guilds sprung up in these two dominant markets during the Middle Ages in Europe, state-appointed assayers examined precious metal goods. Their prescribed mark, and subsequently marks for individual goldsmiths and production dates, became a pre-requisite for gold items offered for public sale.

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The POWER of Water!

The POWER of Water!

by Danny Summers

We know the amazing Power of Plants. We have known this instinctively for decades and we have also seen direct evidence first-hand over the last several years. At the same time, we also know water is one of the most essential resources for all living things.

In fact, our bodies are made up of at least 60% water. Do you know our brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water? The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are composed of 79%, and even the bones are watery at 31%. (READ MORE HERE).

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Neighborhood or Agrihood?

Neighborhood or Agrihood?

by Danny Summers

If the interest in gardening and nature could reach even higher, there are a number of new communities being planned that will be solid evidence it can and will. They are called Agrihoods and they are described in a number of ways such as "Farm to Table Lifestyle" or "Farm & Garden Communities" and even "Healthy Living: Garden & Farming Neighborhoods."

Do a quick web search for the term "Agrihood" and you will see a number of them already in existence or in the planning stages all across the country. One such planned community called "The Grow" east of Orlando, Florida, recently received county approval for its 1200+ acre site. Here's a portion of their narrative:

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Making a Difference

Making a Difference

by Danny Summers

If we were to have any principle ideas to wake up to every morning one could very well be "making a difference." These three small words have a natural place in faith, family, friends and work. I think it also fits the purpose of our Garden Centers by encouraging guests to find joy through gardening and plants. The simple act of planting a tree or cultivating any plant helps make a difference in our shared world and can benefit many more people through the years.

The Fall Event 2022 will take place in Kansas City, Missouri, September 19-22. There is so much to see and experience and we will be sharing much more in the coming weeks leading up to our arrival. 

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Balancing or Juggling?

Balancing or Juggling?

by Danny Summers

It's Spring and that time of the year when you have more things to do than minutes in a day. It certainly is a balancing act. Without being there in person, it is difficult for anyone else to have a real understanding of what it's like. Maybe the easiest way to explain to anyone outside the Garden Center is ... the average Garden Center receives about 70% of their annual business in a 12-week period. That's 70% in 23% of the time (like 4 quarts in a 2-quart jar)!

Hopefully for you, most of the time, it feels like a balancing act. That is a steady position on the balance beam, one foot over the next. Or just like the image above, both hands steadily holding onto both balls equally.

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The GREEN Escape

The Great Green Escape

by Danny Summers

Depending on your preference of movie genre (and maybe the number of "seasons") you may recognize the original title here. It takes us back to one of the most iconic war movies, originally released in 1963. It featured a star-studded cast including Steve McQueen along with James Garner, Richard Attenborough, James Donald, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn, David McCallum, and many more. But that's not what I was thinking of when this title idea came to mind.

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A Song for Spring

A Song for Spring

by Danny Summers

Anticipation

No, that's not the song I was thinking about for the title of this article, but that's a great way to begin and one of Karen and my favorites... by Carly Simon.

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Sharing the Good News

Sharing the Good News

by Danny Summers

Sharing the "Good News" of Joy and Knowledge of Plants and Gardening is a wonderful gift that our Garden Centers do every day. In its very purest form, it is sharing a love for nature.

We all have a favorite teacher we can remember who made a big impact on us growing up and we also have friends and family that influenced us with their talents and interests in hobbies and treasured activities.

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On Your Mark, Get Set... (you know the rest)

On Your Mark, Get Set... (you know the rest)

by Danny Summers

We all know spring is right around the corner. Actually, as I review our Week 7 Weekly Department Review (WDR) report as I write this blog message, it sure looks like spring is already arriving, especially across the South and Southeast Regions. In recent weeks we have been watching negative year-to-date sales totals for all regions, with very early numbers of course. As each week progresses, those negatives have been reducing and Week 7 pushed Total Group numbers into positives to be ahead of last year. And now the race begins!

The idea of this message started out being more of "Get Ready" but it appears the race may have already begun. Here in the Southeast it feels like an early arrival having cut Daffodils several weeks ago for inside enjoyment and now seeing cherries in full bloom and our native red maples beginning to show spring foliage. Keep in mind here in North Metro Atlanta (we are zone 7), spring can arrive as early as late February and as late as mid to late March. This year, it appears to be on the early side.

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Growing Numbers

Growing Numbers

by Danny Summers

We are in a world of Growing Numbers. This beautiful spring photo from Longwood Gardens exemplifies where we are in Garden Retailing today. Each beautiful flower in this photo could easily represent your guests (customers). If we take a minute to think back over the last two years it will reveal this title.

In 2020 Group Centers recorded their largest single-year gains in Total Sales with over +20%, created by a 60/40 split of Transaction Counts and Average Sale. Centers reported seeing upwards of +25% new guests with many or most being young, first-timers to gardening. Overall, the 2020 Annual P&L Study results posted new levels of performance in almost all areas of benchmarking since the P&L Study began in 2004.

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How Will You Measure Up - The 2021 P&L Study is Coming!

How Will You Measure Up - The 2021 P&L Study is Coming!

by Danny Summers

You may have first seen this image last year as I shared some expectations of the Annual P&L Study from 2020 only a week away at the time. If you were there for the March GROUPtalk LIVE session when Steve Bailey and Tim Quebedeaux shared the results, you know the numbers from 2020 P&L Study were pretty incredible and set a new bar for our total Group as well as our Best Practices Centers.

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