Brian “Norman” Andrews, head of the trees and shrubs department at the Florida IGC, says the first thing customers notice about the Brindabella Rose is its fragrance, which sets it apart from competitors.
“Its fragrance is definitely a more extravagant aspect about this particular series of roses,” he says. “But it’s also very hardy, very disease-resistant and it has big blooms and a high petal count.”
It’s also available year-round, which is a plus, considering that other roses are only grown during specific seasons, he says.
Andrews points out that it takes about 60 days to produce a 1-gallon liner and 90 days to produce a 3-gallon liner, which is relatively quick.
“So generally, when a lot of the rose nurseries start their roses, it takes a certain number of days for the graft to take. It usually comes in around January or February, and that’s when their stock is ready to go out. Now, the Brindabella Roses — those don’t need to be grafted, so they essentially have them ready whenever,” he says.
The tough shrub roses are also disease-resistant, making them an excellent choice for new gardeners. The fragrant doubled flowers are low maintenance and very vigorous.
“I usually recommend the Brindbellas because you’re still getting the fragrance and pretty blooms, but at the same time, you’re getting a great beginner rose,” Andrews says. “It’s a very easy rose. It doesn’t need deadheading or anything like that even though you could do it and it’ll benefit from that.”
Many customers are grateful for his expertise, and they come back with satisfactory results. While any rose in Florida can fall victim to powdery mildew and black spots spurred by the wet climate, Andrews says the Brindabellas don’t experience as many issues as often as other roses.
“Customers usually come back and say, ‘Hey, this was a great rose, thank you so much.’ They’re usually appreciative of the foresight as far as which roses are going to do better,” he says. “You always want to instill confidence in the customer. And what better way to do that with something that they could easily do at the beginning and then work toward?”
He often encourages customers to start with the Brindabellas and work toward other varieties, such as climbing roses.
“It’s a great garden rose; it’s a great shrub rose. It gets around 4 feet tall, so when customers see this rose and see that it’s easy to take care of, it pretty much sells itself at that point,” he says.
Power Planter is helping gardeners get more plants in the ground with its line of power tool attachments that make planting easy.
Homestead Gardens first came across Power Planter at a trade show, where the pink augers caught their eye. They were the perfect fit for the company’s October Power of Pink breast cancer fundraiser, says Tony Gaughan, category manager of Homestead Gardens’ hard goods department.
Power Planter is even donating to the Power of Pink organization with each auger sold at the IGC. “So this was a no-brainer to us,” Gaughan says.
Gaughan also sees potential for the pink augers as gifts for Christmas, Mother’s Day and Easter. Homestead Gardens currently carries the 7-, 12- and 24-inch augers, and since the IGC is in the midst of selling fall bulbs, they have the Power Planter augers on display as add-on items.
“It’s got good size,” Gaughan says. “From what I can tell, coming from a hardware store background, it’s a much better quality and a heavier-duty product than some planter products I’ve seen in the past. So I feel like it’s a higher price point item because it’s a higher quality product. It’s just a matter of telling people, ‘It’s a premium price, but it’s a premium product and it’s going to make the job easier.’”
Homestead Gardens has two locations in Maryland and Delaware, where the soil has a lot of clay and sand. That can make gardening difficult, but with 33 years of product development behind them, Power Planter augers will stand up over time in all soil conditions. “This is heavy duty. This is going to hold up. It’s not going to be something that’s going to get used once and break down,” Gaughan says.
The fact that 90% of homeowners have a cordless drill makes Power Planter an easy solution for almost anyone.
Plus, they’re a safe option. Power Planter includes vital, easy-to-understand instructions with its products and is family-owned and operated in the U.S. And all products are backed by terrific customer service.
As fall descends across North America, gardeners are ready to start their bulb planting. At Homestead Gardens’ two retail locations in Delaware and Maryland, they’re giving customers precisely what they want with the a vast array of bulbs.
Nina Bishop, perennials manager, says carrying Netherland Bulbs is an easy choice for Homestead Gardens, considering the wide selection of bulbs they offer.
“The first thing that comes to mind is their marketing for us. They just make marketing so easy,” she says. “They provide great online capabilities.”
Bishop says the IGC’s marketing team can easily access the Netherland Bulb library of materials, including photos, blurbs for social media, bloom charts and other information that helps capture customers’ attention.
“They provide so much marketing information, and it’s all so well researched. It’s a humongous time-saver for us so we don’t have to look all this stuff up,” she says.
Bishop also praises Netherland Bulb’s eye-catching display racks and colorful signage, which add a nice pop of color to the floor.
“Everything looks beautiful when they’re filled up in the displays. Their signage is so pretty because they have bright colors and little banners and things, which always looks really nice,” Bishop says.
There is currently a high demand for Netherland Bulbs at the garden center, which is a bit of a challenge due to nationwide shipping delays, she says.
“Our customers are calling about them constantly. I mean, every day our customer service reps are fielding calls about when our bulbs will get here. People are just waiting for them to come in!” she says.
She notes that in the two years that she’s been working there, customers have never complained about Netherland Bulb Company. She even has her own testimony: “I buy Netherland Bulbs myself, and I’ve always been pretty happy with them,” she says.
Bishop is also quick to point out that Homestead Gardens choose to carry Netherland Bulb because they have everything the IGC needs from variety to marketing materials, and calls buying from them a “one-stop shop” process.
“Since I am a buyer for four different locations, buying from them just makes my life easier tenfold,” she says.
Bishop also notes the efficacy of Netherland Bulb Company’s sales representatives and praises their attention to detail and quick turnaround times whenever she has a question.
“They have amazing reps. My rep is just amazing — Rene. He is just off the charts. They’re super quick to get back to you. Any time I have a question, I immediately get a response. And he’s a wealth of knowledge because he’s just been doing this for so long,” she says.
Knowing the numbers is crucial at Petitti Garden Centers, especially when navigating the changing demands of the past 18 months. With nine locations in Northeast Ohio, the IGC relies on its Epicor point-of-sale system to track sales, inventory and more.
AJ Petitti, president, has been using Epicor for 10 years and over the decade, the grower-retailer has grown significantly, thanks in large part to accurate reports.
The Epicor point-of-sale system allows Petitti to track all aspects of the business daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually with reports that help him make better business decisions. Petitti even has the app on his phone with up-to-the-minute sales, and he interacts with it several times each day.
“We’ve got full confidence and control with our inventory numbers,” Petitti says.. In addition, Petitti says the system gives him all of the numbers he needs to run his business, from landed costs to sell-through percentages to margins and more.
The system’s dashboards are extremely valuable to Petitti, but that’s “just a portion of it,” he says. “The team really loves it. There’s tons of reports and tools in place for the buyers. If you really take the time to set it up well, it’s got all the horsepower you need to really run the business from purchasing to receiving — all the way through.”
Reliability is a key feature for Petitti as well. The IGC knows it can depend on the accuracy of reports, as well as the general stability of the system. If a POS system goes down, the disruption can be “all-consuming,” Petitti says.
With timely numbers, Petitti is able to pivot quickly to meet new or unexpected demands. For example, this year, the patio category took off and by checking inventory numbers and looking at the rest of the inventory on the way, the IGC was able to react quickly and place orders.
“It helps us make better, smarter decisions,” Petitti says. “With good information, you can figure out where you want to place your bets. If you think a category is going to expand or if you were up 30% in a category, it helps you prepare for that. If you’re selling through things very quickly, you want to reorder. Between this year and last year, having that information and being able to access it, react to it and make good business decisions off of that, we were up 40% last year. And a big part of it was just being able to get the information, react to it and make decisions based off of it.”
The need for up-to-date numbers means system glitches or downtime can be huge problems for IGCs. The Epicor team not only keeps Petitti’s POS up and running, but it also helps the garden center optimize its performance for the regional chain’s needs. A specialist comes out twice a year to re-optimize the system and make sure everything is working as it should.
“It’s been great,” Petitti says. “It’s an investment that pays off because you know that you’re always doing the best practices and getting that expertise.”