The start of a new year prompts us all to reflect, resolve and to plan. A new year also gives us time to catch up on what we may have missed, and 2017 was a big, busy year in the independent garden center industry. We kept readers informed, bringing you the latest in news and trends and sharing management, marketing, merchandising and general business advice from industry leaders. Over the next few weeks, you’ll see year-end reviews from our top news and magazine articles, surveys, reports, profiles, podcasts, columns, videos and more in our weekly newsletter, delivered to you each Wednesday. Stay tuned for our 2017 roundups, and in the meantime, here are the news articles that were either written by staff or shared from press releases or other news organizations that garnered the most interest from readers last year:
1. EuroAmerican files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy; Altman Plants purchases inventory, property: In January, Garden Center magazine broke the news that had been rumored for weeks – EuroAmerican Propagators had filed for bankruptcy. John Rader, former COO and co-founder of EuroAmerican, confirmed the bankruptcy and provided details to Garden Center in an exclusive interview.
About a month later, Garden Center also broke the news that Altman Plants had purchased EuroAmerican’s inventory and property. Ken Altman shared his plans for the space.
2. Finnish report prompts petunia genetics investigation in the U.S.: Following the news that orange-colored petunia varieties in Europe had been found to be genetically engineered (GE), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched an investigation into other potentially affected varieties imported, distributed and grown in the U.S. without appropriate authorization. Because multiple plant breeding companies did not realize they were working with GE material, many petunias were listed as “potentially affected implicated varieties” in the initial report, but was later modified and reduced to nine confirmed plants, and not all are orange.
3. Dümmen Orange acquires McHutchison and Vaughan’s Horticulture: This was not the only acquisition news from Dümmen Orange in 2017, but this press release drew the most interest from readers.
4. Another acquisition, Roberta’s Unique Gardens purchase of C. Raker & Sons, also topped the list of big stories from 2017.
5. Sam Bridge Nursery & Greenhouses disputes zoning decision (and won): After Sam Bridge Nursery & Greenhouses received a noise complaint from a neighbor, it prompted the planning and zoning commission of Greenwich, Conn., to review zoning codes, which could have altered how the nursery conducts business. Sam Bridge’s dispute of the proposed restrictions drew the attention of loyal customers – more than 5,700 people signed a petition requesting that the nursery be allowed to continue operations as normal – and also the attention of Garden Center readers.
6. Gypsy moth damage closes section of I-95 in Connecticut: Destruction from this invasive species forced officials to close sections of this major highway.
7. Local pesticide ban overturned: A Maryland County Circuit court overturned Montgomery County’s pesticide ban on lawn and garden pesticide use on private property.
8. The 2017 Top 100 Independent Garden Center issue: the Top 100 issue is one of the biggest of the year. It includes a poster of the top garden retailers in the country and profiles of some of the featured businesses. Owners interviewed as part of the issue share actionable ideas and information that others in the industry can benefit from.
9. 2017 State of the Industry Report: Another highly anticipated issue is our 2017 State of the Industry Report, which includes results from a survey of 385 independent garden centers covering everything from profit margins to trends to top performing products. This year, we looked back over the past decade since the start of The Great Recession to now, and asked industry leaders to weigh in on what their thoughts were on the current state of the garden center market.