A Bright Future

A Bright Future...

by Danny Summers

That's what I see ahead for Garden Retailing and the Horticulture Industry as a whole. We have several both direct and indirect evidence to support this vision for what's beyond the horizon. First, let's consider what almost every Garden Center has experienced the past 15+ months. Reports of seeing 20-25% new customers and a high percentage of them were young. And by the questions they asked, they are new to gardening. We have wondered if they would return this spring and most indicators point to YES, they have. These new plant and gardening enthusiasts are finding their own joy and passion in their garden activities. If we can continue to help them be successful and build upon this new-found relationship with plants and their garden, this may very well be the much needed bridge of transition between boomers and the next generation. These new young customers are one of the best pieces of evidence to support the vision of "A Bright Future."

Additional evidence to support a vision for "A Bright Future" can be seen in this year's nominees for Green Profit Magazine Young Retailer of the Year Award. In the December 14th edition of GROUPtalk, we announced a new Group effort to co-sponsor and promote Green Profit Magazine Young Retailer of the Year Award for 2021. The Garden Center Group, with support from our Partners for Success, are official sponsors of the 16th annual award, along with AmericanHort.

This past week, Green Profit announced the three finalists for this year's awards. They are:



Terra Campbell
Round Rock Garden Center, Round Rock, TX

In nominating Terra, Jeff Ramert, Round Rock's CEO said, "Terra is an incredibly deserving  candidate. Her customer service skills are exemplary. She is one of the friendliest people I know and always arrives with a smile on her face and a happy greeting for her co-workers. I have learned Terra takes the time to get to know her customers and delivers what they want and exceed their expectations."

Here's just a few highlights from Terra's essay submitted for the nomination:
"Cultivating strong relationships with our customers is pivotal to the growth of our business. Not only does it get them to come back, but it gets them to talk about gardening to their friends and encourages visits to the garden center. Once you help someone become more successful in gardening, it can inspire others to give gardening a try!"

"In my tenure at Round Rock Garden Center, I have learned more than I ever could have asked for. Not only has my knowledge about horticulture expanded, but I’ve learned about the importance of having an amazing relationship with our customers. I have been able to share my knowledge, as well as further develop my own understanding of the gardening industry. Targeting new customers is important to the growth of the business, but the target should also be to find a way to keep our loyal customers attracted. Being nominated for the Young Retailer Award and to be considered a finalist has been such an honor; I would like to dedicate this privilege to all my existing and future customers. Thank you for allowing me to pursue a job I am truly passionate about.



Esmeralda Carrasco
Ponderosa Cactus Nursery, Tucson, AZ

In nominating Esmeralda, Elizabeth Przygoda-Montgomery, Owner & Principle at Boxhill & Co., said, "Ponderosa Cactus Nursery has undergone dramatic changes since I first started shopping with them all due to Esmeralda's innovative leadership and sharp business acumen. They now have two locations and they have invested considerable work in making each space easier to navigate, visually. Each time I shop with them, I marvel at the journey that this once small, family-owned nursery has taken under the guidance of Esmeralda."

Here's just a few highlights from Esmeralda's essay submitted for the nomination:
"The moment that customers call, email or walk into our nursery, we are treating our guests as family. We have developed a strong community bond and allow our customers to interact with all team members. Once we attract one customer to our nursery, we allow our services and products to speak for themselves. Customer reviews and other forms of word-of-mouth advertising play a prominent role in attracting new customers. We excel in customer service and provide an experience in every instance of connection we have with the public.

Our new customers range from young children and designers to our elderly community members. Ponderosa Cactus is a plant nursery that is focused on being accommodating to our consumers. We help the children with understanding responsibility and caring for a plant at a young age. We create an experience for our new gardeners and help them choose a plant that will encourage them to continue to garden. To us, retention of our current customers is one of the most manageable parts. It is easy because we care about our customers and allow ourselves to develop an environment of trust and honesty."



Wyatt Page
Gill Garden Center & Landscape Co., Corpus Christi, TX

In nominating Wyatt, Jesse Jenkins, General Manager of Gill's Garden Center & Landscape Co., said, "Wyatt is an absolute superstar. That's the perfect word to describe him in our company and as a person. He's worked his way up through every position in the garden center since 2015 and is becoming the best manager. His people skills are outstanding, he lead with compassion and by example. His enthusiasm and passion are infectious both here in our company and in the community."

Here's just a few highlights from Wyatt's essay submitted for the nomination: "Our new customers since the pandemic are a wide-ranging group of people with varying levels of gardening experience: people who want to learn to grow their own food, parents who want to spend time gardening with their children, new homeowners adding beauty to their homes, and apartment and small-space dwellers interested in caring for houseplants. It’s difficult to put everyone into a category, but they all have one thing in common—they’re gardening to benefit their health and well-being.

We are lucky to work in a field that can truly help people. That has become very apparent as we met new customers over the past year. A lot of people not only needed activity, but needed a release from the stress of the pandemic and to feel some sense of normalcy. On the positive side of things, the pandemic has shown people how important being outside/in/around nature is to our mental health. I get to talk to people every day about gardening. I have numerous customers tell me how great it is to be able to walk outside every day and garden. Getting to hear customers’ excitement about attracting butterflies into their own backyard or cooking something from their first veggie garden is a great reminder of how beneficial our industry is to the wellbeing of our customers.

Two years ago, the whole industry was brainstorming trying to figure out how to attract new customers. Now, we’re trying to keep up and keep them coming back! One of the best ways to keep customers coming back is to do everything we can to help them be successful gardeners. That means educating our employees on all the plants and products we carry. Not just our sales staff, but everyone from carry-outs to cashiers to receiving staff. I also believe that happy employees lead to happy customers and happy customers return.

We have known all along that gardening is good for you and now so many new people are feeling the benefits. We expect that some may not stick with it, but others will become life-long gardeners. To play a part in that discovery is so rewarding."


Green Profit's Managing Editor, Jennifer Polanz said, "This year’s trio of Green Profit/The Garden Center Group Young Retailer Award finalists go to great lengths to delight new and returning customers. Every year we go through dozens of nomination forms to find our Young Grower and Young Retailer finalists, and every year I’m impressed at the amount of talent out there in our industry. This year was no exception—these three finalists for our Green Profit/The Garden Center Group Young Retailer Award rose to the top due to their engagement in their local communities and in the industry, the impact they’ve already had on their operations and their continued dedication to moving garden retail forward.

The three finalists are asked to write guest editorials for the June issue of Green Profit, receives a free trip to Cultivate’21, and while they’re in Columbus, attends a special dinner with industry luminaries. The winner is announced at the Unplugged event during Cultivate’21, will be the subject of Green Profit's September issue cover story, and serve as one of the judges for the following year’s award."

Now that you have read just some of the details from these three outstanding finalists for our Green Profit/The Garden Center Group Young Retailer Award for 2021, you can see why we should be excited about having a vision for "A Bright Future" for Garden Retailing and our industry as a whole. While we are seeing large numbers of younger generations becoming gardening enthusiasts we are also starting to see more becoming interested in working for and even owning their own Garden Center.

After getting to know these three outstanding young finalists I believe all of them deserve the award, equally. In my eyes, they are all winners! I look forward to meeting all three of them at Cultivate'21, July 11-13 in Columbus, OH! Will you be there with me?

Congratulations to Terra, Esmeralda, and Wyatt and to all the other young professionals who are finding Garden Retailing a place to call their own! You can read the complete Green Profit June edition HERE.

And a special THANK YOU to all of our Partners for Success for helping make this sponsorship possible this year:

Bailey Nurseries
Ball Seed
Prides Corner Farms
Proven Winners®
Star® Roses & Plants

Here's to "A Bright Future" for Garden Retailing and our industry!


Sharing is at the heart of The Group and your ideas are very important. Are you and your staff all subscribed to our eLists such as GroupEs, Retail-Grower, Retail-Landscape, Owners-Only, and a number of others? Need help subscribing? Let me know as I can show you how you can sign up.

Thanks for sharing!

Danny Summers
[email protected]
Tel: 678-909-7770
Cell: 678-761-7145

REMEMBER: Your interaction (by phone and email) with Group Service Providers such as Steve Bailey, Tim Quebedeaux, Sid Raisch, Robert Hendrickson, John Kennedy, Jean Seawright, and of course Danny Summers are included in your retainer!


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