Retail ponderings: Paint the town profitable

Use color to create excitement and generate sales.

Tonight after yoga class, one of the ladies said to me, “I still miss your garden center.” It’s been seven years since my family made the difficult decision to close our store, but I still have former customers who stop me to share their fond memories of it. Sniff, sniff.

This conversation got me reminiscing about what I missed most about the daily grind of retail. I miss my favorite customers and staff, shopping for new products, but perhaps most of all I miss merchandising and the creative outlet it afforded me.

I loved planning store layouts and designing eye catching presentations. I always thought of them as a huge puzzle with each piece being a different display.

All about the green

As we head into spring, the focus is annuals, and undeniably color is at the forefront. Quite often when I lecture across the country, I share my theory on color. I like providing the consumer with a parallel that they can relate to — green is the little black dress of the garden. It never goes out of style and you need it to make all other colors truly pop!

Or, as I described in my UpShoot monthly e-newsletter this past November, green is the blank canvas upon which we layer trees, shrubs and flowers to create our own personal landscape masterpiece.

Follow the color queen

In case you aren’t familiar with it, Pantone is the world’s color authority. Each year they announce fall and spring color trends. For spring 2014, they selected a balanced mix of soft pastels with vivid bright colors.

A simple and easy merchandising concept for garden centers is to utilize the 2014 Pantone colors to develop inspired, monochromatic or color complementary displays, particularly with annuals.

What I wouldn’t give to create a display of annuals and related merchandise at my store entrance that featured the Pantone Color of the Year for spring 2014, Radiant Orchid.First impressions are the ones that count, and this could set the tone (whoops bad pun) as a trendy and warm welcome mat.

You could explain what orchid means and the feel it exudes in a garden in the display signage. On the back side you could incorporate a complementary color for those who like to mix up the colors.

Colors in the consumer world

Coincidentally, as I sat in the waiting room at the doctor’s office recently, I flipped through the April issue of InStyle Magazine. The cover proclaimed it was their “2014 Color Issue! Easy ways to transform your style, makeup and home.”

They had a page or two dedicated to 10 different colors. Each color layout described what made it special and suggested other colors to pair it with; they’ve made it easy for consumers to know how to coordinate colors.

They tied the entire color section together with a page called “Now it’s your turn to…#SayItWithColor.” They encouraged readers to post a picture on Instagram using the tag @instylemagazine along with the hashtag #SayItWithColor. The four-week contest highlighted a different color each week. They picked one winner who took home an item in that week’s featured color.

Don’t be afraid to look at marketing ideas in other industries and adapt them to your business. Utilize it in merchandising annuals, as social media content and/or a contest, make it a headline story for your newsletter, and educate consumers about the necessity of green since it’s a color, too.


Maria Zampini is president of UpShoot LLF and Director of Plant Development and Ornamental Program Manager for the HGTV HOME Plant Collection.

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