Market buzz: A news flash from the past

The buzz and big stories from 1995

For this month’s section of Market Buzz, the staff at Garden Center magazine compiled some of the major news stories published throughout 1995. This department once was called “Market Smart,” and featured sections like “Quotable,” or thoughts from retailers, and “Nightmare Customers,” stories about particularly difficult shoppers who visited independent garden centers (IGCs).



 

Tough customers, distracted staff

Before Garden Center was available on the Internet and had social media pages, it is likely customers weren’t able to find and read the publication easily. Perhaps that’s why IGC owners were not afraid to divulge their stories of their most difficult customers, as you see here. And, one of the biggest stories of 1995 and the decade impacted garden centers in an unexpected way.

 

Plant promotion pummeled

An early attempt to promote plants and gardening at a national level proposed by the Garden Council failed, according to this article published in June 1995. The figures showed that 85 percent of the more than 7,000 growers who submitted surveys were against the idea that “would have raised $25 million for a national advertising campaign.” The council was worried at the time that if they could not “create a voluntary or mandatory national marketing campaign,” which was the foundation of their charter, that they would have to disband.



Consumer confidence jumps in 1995

This “Market Meter” from May 1995 shows that consumer confidence “inched” from the previous month, but was significantly higher than in 1994. The Consumer Price Index was 2.9 percent, and unemployment was down slightly, at 5.4 percent. Interestingly, the unemployment rate as reported in December 2014 was very similar to 20 years ago, at 5.6 percent.

 

Identity crisis: Specialty or independent?

Former Garden Center editor Mitch Whitten posed a question he received from a retailer to introduce his column in the February 1995 issue: “Just what are independent garden centers independent of?” The owner of McDonald Garden Center in Hampton, Va., suggested garden center stores instead refer to themselves as “specialty retailers,” a term he considered more positive. “Specialty retailers aim for the highest standard in the quality of their service and in product selection, [the owner] says,” Whitten wrote. 



Home office tax break challenged

In today’s digital world, where we can work from pretty much anywhere, many of us likely take the home-office tax break for granted. But that deduction was challenged in the early ’90s, according to this article published in February 1995. A Supreme Court ruling “appeared to rule that if a business owner did not have customers coming to the place of business to make sales, the home office would not qualify as a deduction.” A business coalition fought this decision, offering new criteria, but its first attempt failed.

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