Before I joined the family business I cut my entrepreneurial adult teeth by opening a retail gift store. I was fresh out of business school with grand plans of the next big franchise explosion. My landlord was a popular florist in London Ontario, and so I quickly added floral arrangements to the list of offerings in my store.
Though retail turned out not to be my true calling, I did learn some very valuable lessons as a young upstart in this crowded market space. One of those lessons was the importance of signage, and another was the value of window dressing.
At GGS we tell all our garden center customers the best structural advise we can give you is to make sure your front wall is glass. Early in my days at GGS I had the pleasure of working with a great family business who had a nice retail / wholesale greenhouse operation. Ian Arnold was working with his father and they were looking to improve the old greenhouses with some sort of renovation. Add vents, raise the roof, tear down and build Widespan Greenhouses, the usual sort of considerations when looking to modernize your greenhouse facility. Ian also wanted to replace the old fiberglass frontage with a new glass wall, but it was expensive, and he was not sure of the added value.
With only one year of experience in the greenhouse business, I did a lot more listening than advising, but on this topic I was certain. “If people can’t see what you have inside when they drive by, that’s all they will do. You have to give people a reason to stop and come in to see more.”
Ian and Ken Arnold did build that glass sidewall, and a year later Ian caught me off guard at a trade show, telling me that he has had nothing but problems with his neighbors after the glass went on the front. You see, cars that regularly zipped along were now stopping and turning around in the neighbor’s driveway so they could go back and take a closer look at the great plant displays they could see through the front wall.
What are you doing to catch the eye of potential customers and bring them into your Garden Center? Sound off in the comments below!