Natureworks Horticultural Services, a garden center in Northford, Conn., has built a successful, in-house brand around its vegetables and herbs called Incredible Edibles.
Emphasize Organic To Sell More Edibles
Consumers equate organically grown with safe food. "For years we have contracted with organic growers to produce our vegetable seedlings," says owner Nancy DuBrule-Clemente. "Some are USDA certified organic, others are growers we know who use organic practices and we trust. We state that right up front in our brochure. If we sell an edible that is not organically grown, we label it as conventional, just like they do at Whole Foods."
The store contracts primarily with two growers. "We use two because we never want to be totally dependent on one grower in case of a crop failure," DuBrule-Clemente says.
Allow Customers To Preorder Their Veggies And Herbs
Each seasons’ selection begins the previous year, in late fall when the staff studies sales figures and creates a list of varieties to send to its growers, DuBrule-Clemente says.
Customers frequently preorder their edibles. "We usually have over 2000 plants grown for us! The order process is tedious, but people love it that they can come and pick up their reserved plants," she says.
Learn From Grocery Stores
The department is such a hit that Natureworks has made it a destination for the store. "We load the area up with empty wagons, have every vegetable variety labeled, have extra descriptive brochures handy, and locate our organic herb plants right next to the veggies," DuBrule-Clemente says. "We even group the blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and any other edibles we can get our hands on such as asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, etc. nearby. Our teaching tent is adjacent to the Incredible Edibles and we run free workshops about growing food all during the spring."
The retailer took a page from grocery stores to increase exposure of the entire store. "We had Sunrise Marketing do a nice sign for us last year, and we moved the Incredible Edibles department all the way to the back of the nursery yard so people had to walk to get them, just like the way they put milk and eggs in the farthest aisle in the supermarket. That freed some prime retail space when you first walk into our retail yard for colorful annuals. Everyone finds the edibles no problem," DuBrule-Clemente says.
Extend Mother’s Day Sales
The store holds a veggie week that boosts perennial and annuals sales as well. "Veggie week [the week after Mother's Day] is chaos at Natureworks. Naturally we cross sell with organic fertilizers, stakes, cages, straw mulch, Coast of Maine compost, grow bags, raised beds, organic vegetable gardening books, etc. Great time to have people come in to pick up orders and browse around!" she says.
Take a look at these images that show off the results.