A Millennial’s Journey to His Garden of Eden - Part 1

A Millennial’s Journey to His Garden of Eden - Part 1

by Tom Kegley

News Flash:  After 9 years of a somewhat nomadic existence across two states and three cities, Millennial Son Lee Kegley is now the happy owner of a lovely and renovated 1940’s vintage colonial in the quaint Forest Hills section of Richmond, VA. He intends to stay for the foreseeable future, well entrenched in residential sales with the company he’s worked for since college, Ferguson Enterprises. Ferguson is the nation’s largest wholesale distributor of commercial and residential plumbing supplies, pipe, valves, fittings, waterworks, and HVAC/R products. Recently he attended a National Association of Home Builders conference where the keynote speaker shared insights on the dynamics of millennial home buying these days. Lee’s report to me on that coinciding with his April home purchase was revealing.

In GroupTalk issues to come, I hope to share Lee’s unfolding endeavors in his new residence pertaining to an amazing transformation (for him at least)– he’s become an enthusiastic home gardener!

He had the great fortune to buy a house whose owner was a master gardener. We all know a beautiful yard will increase value and speed of a sale. The curb appeal was splendid. The amazing part- the purchase turned on an undiscovered gardening switch in Lee. To my knowledge, he has never willingly set foot in a garden center, let alone entertained a notion that he might one day spend leisure time in dirt. In less than a month, he’s made multiple stops at two of Richmond’s premier independent garden centers, Great Big Greenhouse and Strange’s, to buy shovel and trowel, rake, hoe, wheel barrow, hose, fertilizer, compost, gloves, plants, and other gardening sundries.

The first step in Lee’s gardening journey was to clean up the row of raised beds along his side street to plant his herb and vegetable crop. The before and after tell the tale. He’s looking forward to the home grown fruits of his labors.

Next step was to bring in a pro for a big picture to-do list. The former owner laid a great foundation but part of the joy of gardening comes from adding the personal touch. Enter Aunt Sue Newman, Garden Guru. Beginning with her degree in hort from VA Tech, she has spent many years in the business selling wholesale at Riverbend Nursery in Riner, managing an independent center in Blacksburg, and creating her own Garden of Eden at her residence in Pulaski. She spent the weekend getting to know his property, cataloging, identifying, and advising. Lots to do in times to come!

The takeaway for me – the never-gardener became the ever-gardener overnight and the only catalyst I see is now he has a ‘home.’ The industry has been trying for years to speak to, inspire, motivate, excite, (coerce?) the millennial into the garden center and garden. It’s the ‘home’ that speaks to them.

Retailers might be encouraged. Millennials are buying houses. Existing home sales are at the fastest pace in 10 years. Contracts for new home sales in March 2017 showed a 15.6% gain from a year ago. Over the last four years, Millennials represent 34% of homebuyers and 66% of that 34% were first time buyers. Seems to me, Buy It or Build It and They will Come (to the garden center).

My millennial is joining the action and he’s vested. Many more like him are joining the ranks. The Millennial’s Garden of Eden is waiting in the backyard.

Stay tuned!


Tom Kegley, Tom Kegley Communications
For more details, contact Tom Kegley
Tel: 843-991-4366
Email: CLICK HERE  ([email protected])


Tom is The Group's "Branding Guru." Tom Kegley Communications provides marketing communications services to all segments of the horticulture industry and is a Service Provider to The Garden Center Group.

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