City: Newport News, Va.
Owner: Clark Anderson
Size: Retail–50,000 square feet, Growing–2 acres, Landscape–2 acres
Sales Range: $5 million–$9,999,999
Years In Business: 57
Number Of Locations: 1
What changes have you made in the last 12 months to increase your garden center’s profitability? 1. We eliminated all pricing ending in anything other than “.99.” We installed a “Checkpoint” security system that alarms when more expensive merchandise passes through the doors. This is a major deterrent to shoplifting which is prevalent with boutique items.
What makes your garden center Revolutionary? In March of this year, we completed a $4.5 million, 5-year remodel of the entire store. We now have paved, lit parking for 238 cars. Our customer traffic pattern has been majorly improved with one way in and one way out of the store and a counter-clockwise flow that allows exposure to all of our numerous departments. Customers are greeted with music and attractive plantings before they enter. Our entrance offers natural light and spacial architecture for them to comfortably transition into our shopping environment. Our customer service counter is located strategically so that each and every customer can be personally greeted when they enter. We have installed seven TV monitors throughout the center running the “Gardening TV-USA-Anderson” feed, which provides store direction, sale items, new features, timely tips, local weather and more.
The next thing customers see is our new “Sweet Spot” which is a counter service offering fresh homemade fudge, roasted nuts, smoothie blends, sodas and snacks. Just past this is the entrance to our “Showplace Cafe.” All patrons must now enter through the main entrance and walk through the store to the cafe. In addition to the seating for 130 inside, we added outdoor seating for another 60. This areas is very popular when weather permits. We use a “beeper” system so that patrons can shop while waiting for their table. We average a 10 minute wait for a table daily during lunch hour. Customers shop during their wait. The expansion allowed for a large increase in the display of outdoor furniture, which sold very well this season. Sales were up 157 percent in that department! Most popular items were those made from recycled milk cartons. Our nursery and outdoor perennial area occupies one of our old parking lots. We simply cut out the asphalt where the trees and shrubs reside and left asphalt that became our walkways without having to build new. Our newest greenhouse features an open roof design from XS Smith. This house is used to display gift plants, foliage plants and indoor pottery. The custom benches from Bench Systems gives a very handsome, professional look and enhances the quality image of the plant material we sell.
Our new showroom features 8 checkouts, garden supply and information desk, birding department, and a huge “woman’s boutique” section featuring ladies handbags, shoes, jewelry, home fragrance and candles. Sales of this merchandise are up 82 percent for the year. Our checkouts are retrofitted from an old “Linen & Things” and feature a more traditional “wedding cake” display tables for driving impulse sales. We keep these tables full of generally lower priced, new items that would be either fun, cute for kids or add on sales for plant purchases. It is one of the most important areas of our store!
Finally, one of the most important new investments was in our outdoor sign. It features a 32-square-foot high definition digital message board that displays full-color images sent remotely from our graphics computer. We can take a digital picture of anything, including people, and have it on our sign within minutes. With 50,000 cars passing by daily, it is by far the best, most cost-effective form of advertising we have. As a multi-department center, we like to think of ourselves as “the adult alternative to the mall” and our patrons love it!