Back in November, my fellow editor at Today’s Garden Center Pete Mihalek described Terrain as Pier One in an expensive flannel shirt. It was a great description of a store striving to stand apart and appeal to its core audience of Baby Boomers by way of reconnecting with the Earth. In the process I think they created a store that appeals to a younger audience, as well.
The response to this location was mixed on our bus. Not everyone fell in love immediately, but many did. Some wondered what the big deal was, while others gushed. I was one of the latter.
A couple of observations:
- Terrain has a clear message and story that is consistent throughout the 5-acre retail operation. It’s dedicated to sustainability, and emphasizes that throughout with all types of recycled materials, including bamboo, burlap, wood and more. One attendee took a peek into a back storeroom, and the sustainability theme is carried back there, as well, showing it’s not just a schtick.
- The café is a true restaurant with an executive chef that opens for lunch during weekdays and brunch on the weekends. It features a seasonally focused menu that changes based on produce availability (with exception to the uber-popular chicken salad sandwich, which stays on the menu year-round). It’s very garden-focused and ties in well with the atmosphere. According to the special events coordinator, the café has not only kept customers happy, but driven sales enough to launch it into the Top 5 in category sales.
- In the gift house many of the products appeared to be one-of-a-kind, or at least very special finds from an excellent buyer. The signage matched to explain to the customer where it came from and what made it such a great find. To the flip side of that (and my main complaint), I found little or none of that in the plant yard outside (granted it was raining, and I was a bit rushed). I didn’t get the same “finding a jewel around each corner” feeling out there as I did in the shop. I think this is easily fixed with some signage creatively describing the history of the plant, common names or nicknames if they’re interesting, or even uses for them. Anything to make that plant unique and special.