Gro-Rite Greenhouse and Garden Center

City: Lincoln Park, N.J.

Owners: David and Gerda Vande Vrede

Website: www.grorite.com

Size: Retail - 12 acres, Growing–9 acres, Other–2 acres (stone products, sheds, swingsets, and bulk mulch)

Years In Business: 37

Number Of Locations: 2

What changes have you made in the last 12 months to increase your garden center’s profitability? We evaulate our credit cards fees every year. We usse our POS system to track slow moving and low profit items. For labor management, we installed a system to limit overtime and help managers to keep track of employee hours.

What sustainable practices do you use in your operation? We are working on solar energy. This will take the place of both our electric and natural gas energy. We should be online in 2010.

What makes your garden center Revolutionary? As one of the garden centers in New Jersey, Gro-Rite strives to be a revolutionary garden center in all aspects of the business.

At Gro-Rite we are always coming up with new and exciting marketing ideas and rewards for our customers, by sending out email newsletters, email blasts and birthday coupons. Gro-Rite offers a rewards program, where the customer can earn rewards from every purchase that they make. Our website is user friendly, with weekly ad updates and in store specials. TV monitors will be installed this month in our store, showing our garden specials and upcoming events along with showcasing any new items.

Along with our marketing we value our customers in-store experience by offering personal assistance through out our store, greenhouse and nursery. Our designers are readily available for any landscape designing that a homeowner may need help with. Our knowledgeable staff guides the customers through out the nursery and perennial yard when designing their gardens. We value each customer’s time and ease their shopping experience as much as possible by loading up their vehicles with their purchases at the completion of their visit. In the peak of the season in May, we have 5-10 employees just in our loading zone area, assisting customers, loading up their cars with bagged goods and offering logo plastic for their vehicles.

In keeping the green in our Garden Center, we recycle customer’s plastic pots. Along with that, we are in the process of installing solar panels for our electric and gas energy for our greenhouse growing and in the process of becoming USDA organically approved for herb and vegetable growing.

Gro-Rite is adding a landscape & property maintenance division. Our customers are always asking for us to install plants and for assisting in maintaining their yards. We are listening to our customer’s requests and hoping this division will benefit our customers even more.

During the holiday season we donate pink poinsettias around the holidays to two large cancer hospitals in North Jersey. We deliver them to the hospitals and also to some senior centers, allowing lots of patients and seniors to enjoy some holiday cheer.

All our annuals, perennials, vegetables and herbs are produced by our own growing facility and by doing this we are able to pass along valuable savings to all our customers.

As a family owned and operated facility for 38 years, the second generations of five family members are making the necessary changes to remain on the cutting edge, to be successful in the new marketplace of the 21st century.

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