Ride the whimsy wagon

Capitalize on the fairy gardening trend with these ideas.

Top: Merchandise fairy gardening products among other plants, such as annuals. Bottom: Get customers into fairy gardening by dressing the part, says Nikki Weed (pictured.)

"Wow, you look just like a fairy princess!” I was clad in steel-toed work boots and old jeans caked with potting soil — not very fairy like. She gazed at me with big doe eyes, and at that moment she ignited a tiny spark in me. This little girl solved one very large garden center problem — how to get into the fairy gardening business. Before I knew it, I was hustling down to the local costume shop looking for a fairy princess outfit. My goal was to market my goods with my very own personality and a fairy costume.

Promote escapism for a stressed out world

Fairy gardening has gone absolutely crazy in the retail world, with all types of stores getting into it, not just garden centers. People are flocking to the idea of creating a little oasis, paradise or sanctuary in which to be a kid again. Can you blame them? The modern day adult has so many responsibilities and things to take seriously, the idea of just letting loose and creating a little dollhouse-like environment is inviting.

Fairy gardening channels the kid in all of us, the kid who perhaps has become overwhelmed and overworked. The kid who loves to play in the dirt and make mud pies. However, your entire market isn’t going to be attracted to something so childish, so you have to be careful how you merchandise it and where it gets placed in your store.

You want the fairy garden believers to have a place to shop — a little toy store within a serious store. Just like in a grocery store, when you get to the aisle that has a few random toys in it, you can’t help wonder “Who buys toys from a grocery store?” Make sure your fairy garden accessories fit in with the rest of the store.

March your product up the aisle

By creating a special nook to devote to your fairy gardening accessories, you’ll provide fairy gardeners a little retreat from the sometimes overwhelming selection in the rest of your garden center. Trying to cross-merchandise the fairy garden accessories with other items like houseplants or pots is a recipe for disaster. Take into consideration that most of the accessories are small and will certainly be lost with a background of large pots, or, even worse, towering houseplants.

Find solutions

The primary problem with creating a nook is trying to direct your foot traffic to where it is located within your store. Avoid this being a problem with these tips:

  • Put some thought into the placement, and assess exactly how much money and space you want to devote to your “nook.” 
  • Devote an area close to the front register, making sure it is highly visible from all parts of the store. You might consider using spotlights or sheer fabrics as eye-catching backdrops.
  • Keep the area clean! Small items such as figurines have a tendency to look lost if not in order. 
  • Know your customers. Small items are also very easy to steal, so it’s not a bad idea to keep it under a cautious eye.
  • Make sure you scope out your competition around town. If you’re cutting edge, you’ll win the business away from them.
  • Place totes or baskets near the “nook.” This will allow your customers to be compulsive and spend, spend, spend!
  • Cross-merchandise with miniature plants. Leave pamphlets as to which plants located in your garden center would be suitable fairy garden plants.

Arm yourself with a fairy wand of knowledge
Fairy gardening covers a very broad array of accessories, which can be absolutely overwhelming if you don’t know where to begin. Use discretion as to which accessories you decide to carry. Select higher-quality, well-made pieces as opposed to the tempting lower-priced items. If you provide your customers with objects that will fade after a season, chances are they aren’t going to come back for more. There are a few questions you should ask yourself before buying any fairy gardening accessories, no matter what the salesperson tells you. Do your research.

  • Are they made of high-quality material?
  • Can these be found cheaper online?
  • Do your competitors sell the same thing across town?
  • Are you going through a middleman or directly from the source?
  • Have these accessories been featured in consumer publications like Southern Living?

Remember show and tell? Do it

Swallowing my pride and whatever insecurities I might have had, I donned my fairy costume and marched myself in front of a mixed group of potential fairy gardeners and gave a whimsical show. With magical music playing in the background and everything I needed to construct a small scale fairy garden, I went to work hosting a seminar. A free seminar.

Set display models so people can see which plants to use. All photos courtesy of Nikki Weed.

The audience was captivated, and most importantly, it made a huge mental impact on them. How could you go to a free class hosted by a real life fairy and not tell all of your friends about it? Of course, I’m a bit bolder than most, so it was easier for me. You may not be that brave, and that’s perfectly fine, too.

To host a successful class, you don’t need to don fairy wings. Capitalize on social media sites to get the word out, and reel them in with the wonders of all things fairy. Also, most local schools have little learning gardens. You can always devote an afternoon and donate a few accessories and host a seminar at the school. The kids will run home speaking of this wonderful person that came into their school, and hopefully beg for a fairy garden of their own. Kids are great (unpaid) salespeople.

Sprinkle fairy dust on other areas, too

Fairy gardening doesn’t stop with just the trinkets. To construct a proper fairy garden, other materials are necessary – materials you already have.

For example, you can place an empty bag of your premier potting mix near the “nook.” This will remind the shopper that you not only carry all the goodies, but you can provide them with the not as fun stuff as well. To keep it lighthearted and fun, rename these items for the fairy gardening section. This will intensify the experience.

Possible renamed goods:

  • Transform mundane soil and dirt into “magical mud” 
  • Turn planting containers into “fairy garden subdivision plots”
  • Rename your preserved moss to “pixieland sod”
  • Any plant material that you’re looking to incorporate can be marketed in a “nursery for gnomes”

So, my hair-brained marketing scheme was very successful. Before I knew it, I was reordering accessories once a week, as opposed to looking at the same dusty boxes of “Kits” sitting on shelves next to assorted garden art. I created a market using my wacky personality, which fits right into the fairy garden market. You can feed off of my playful nature and share it with your very own customers. Those customers will eventually feed your profits in return.


Nikki Weed is a horticulturist and professional adventurer who uses her experiences and knowledge to manage a successful garden center in Greenville, S.C. She can be reached at pepitaweed@gmail.com.

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