It’s no secret that fountains, statuary and garden art have been a challenge for retailers over the past couple of years.
Last year saw a slight uptick for some retailers, but by and large sales are still flat to down, due in part to the economy and lack of consumer spending.
Still, there are a few positives coming out of this category, particularly in niche areas where retailers have gotten creative and taken advantage of some consumer trends.
One trend in particular is the fairy garden craze, which seems to be sweeping the nation at a rapid rate. Many garden centers last year recognized the opportunity and brought in more whimsical pieces to satiate the demand for fairies, gnomes and other woodland creatures. For more on fairy gardens, see the Steal This Idea Gallery on Tonkadale Greenhouse.
Chris Quance from Ferguson’s Garden Center in Spirit Lake, Iowa, noted smaller to mid-sized statuary worked best for them with mid-range pricepoints. Animals like bunnies, turtles and dragons sold best, as well as the fairies.
Coupling the animals and fairies with smaller fountains and other products retailing between $39 and $299, Ferguson’s was able to increase this category by more than 10 percent in 2010, and hopes to continue the trend this year. So what’s on tap for this year?
“More of the same; good pricepoints and excellent displays,” Quance says. “We have a large group of fountainettes from Massarelli’s that will retail at $199.”
The mid-range is ultra popular this year, with many of the major fountain and statuary companies offering significantly more here for retailers to capitalize upon. Massarelli’s, Henri Studio, Campania International and others have supplemented their offerings with mid-sized fountains, some accented with LED lighting.
Henri Studio also plans to enhance its offerings with QR codes on its consumer tags to allow your customers to snap the tag with their smart phone and see a YouTube video of the fountain running.
Campania International has added tabletop fountains – another mid-range pricepoint for retailers – to its extensive fountain offerings in the Garden Terrace Collection.
However, retailers shouldn’t solely focus on smaller to mid-sized products, because some of the larger fountains may be coming back into style.
“Fountain sales have been very strong; it’s been a very good year for us on the cast stone side,” says Peter Cilio, creative director at Campania.
Getting Creative With Fountains
Willow Ridge Garden Center in Oak Ridge, Tenn., has taken the art of fountains to a new level by creating their own products. Water gardening and bubbling fountains are an important part of Willow Ridge’s business, and owner Tom Lakers found customers were interested in smaller bubbling fountains.
They made them by drilling holes in boulders and hooking up pumps to recirculate water through pots or other types of garden art for a unique product and fresh look.
They sell the finished product, as well as the components for do-it-yourself assembly.
Clean, Running & Clearing Out
A couple of key points on fountains and statuary are to keep it clean – both the area surrounding the displays and the products themselves – and to display fountains while they are running. Show customers how they might look in their landscapes, and appeal to their sense of sound with gently bubbling water. If you deliver, make it clear wherever you display larger items so customers are aware.
Quance also offers this bit of advice for large products: “Get rid of old inventory! Those big clunkers that have been in one spot for five years, get rid of them,” he says. “It doesn’t matter how many man hours are in them, discount them deep and move them. If you still have them on the books their value should be zero anyway. I feel strongly on this.”
The products from Henri Studio, Massarelli’s and the cast stone line from Campania International are all made in the United States, too, which can be a selling point for retailers looking to add value and differentiate their lines from those found at box stores, particularly on larger, more valuable items.
Display it proudly, along with the fact that these companies support the independent retail industry. That is still worth something these days.