Dayton Nursery

City: Norton, Ohio

Owner: Thomas G. Dayton

Website: DaytonNursery.com

Size: Retail–14 acres, Growing–3 acres

Sales Range: $1 million to $2,999,999

Years In Business: 38

Number Of Locations: 1

What changes have you made in the last 12 months to increase your garden center’s profitability? 1. We have had major shifts in what we grow to perfect market desires and eliminate those items that are of limited demand. 2. Reduction of inventory of the items that were once the "bread and butter" of many garden centers. 3. More inventory of the "new and unusual" category of plants. 4. Elimination of as many vendors as possible that have a strong presence in box stores. 5. Begin new greenhouse construction in order to customize our inventory of annuals in spring that will be more tailored to our customers’ wants than depending on the "product mix" the larger growers prefer to grow and ship out to garden centers. Growing our own annual products in late winter will enable us to take more advantage of already available labor at that time.

What makes your garden center revolutionary? I think what makes us revolutionary is our "green" practices, which includes a green roof on our new retail barn, recycling rain water and irrigation water, the use of ebb and flow benches and drip irrigation systems in our greenhouses. Another revolutionary aspect of our business is our use of technology. Our extensive website includes an online plant encyclopedia, pricing and availability, current sales and specials, monthly gardening calendar, weekly blogs, planting and care tips, a listing of seminars and events and company policies including delivery prices and information on warranties. Our website is updated daily in house, which keeps it current. Another area of technology we use quite frequently is our POS system with wireless handhelds. The handhelds allow us to take an inventory count, receive purchase orders, start and suspend sales and dump product from inventory wirelesly throughout our property. We have also opened a new produce market that encourages customers to "buy local."

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