Determining how to market and move garden statuary, where purchases depend greatly on the preference and budget of the customer, can be tricky. Two buyers offer their tips to navigate inventory and stock of this merchandise.
Marketing and organizing displays
McDonald Garden Center, headquartered in Hampton, Va., operates three year-round locations and carries traditional statuary, cat and dog statues and other wildlife statuary. Decorative benches, urns and fountains are also available. Andrea Bateman, patio and décor buyer, has been with the company for 22 years and served as a buyer for the past six.
“We have areas just for statuary and fountains at each of our locations. We try to add some plant material and put them on pedestals,” she says. “We also feature them around in other displays within the garden center.”
In addition to stocking statuary merchandise at the company’s three brick and mortar locations, statuary is displayed at a dozen “pop up markets,” which are smaller, temporary stores located throughout Virginia, open from March through July.
“We always have a coastal display, so we tend to use grasses and coastal living plants that do well by the sea, and that’s where we use a lot of our herons and egrets,” she says.
Box displays make statuary easily visible from a distance and keep the product clean. Labels are tied on with fishing wire, so customers can see a price without having to move the object, Bateman adds.
Bert Gallegos, manager and buyer for Nick’s Garden Center & Farm Market based in Aurora, Colo., says most of the company’s statuary displays are categorized by type of statue and theme. Gallegos has been buying and managing statuary for about eight years.
Here they also cross-merchandise much of the statuary. For example Asian statuary is paired with bonsai. Both garden centers use their websites as an online marketing tool, but do not sell statuary via the web.
“A statue is kind of a personal thing, you like to touch and feel it and see it,” Bateman says.
Managing inventory and stock
Bateman stocks a large quantity of statuary minimize reordering product. Because the merchandise is so heavy, many vendors will require a weight minimum for orders.
Bateman begins planning six months in advance. In August she will place statuary orders for Spring 2016, checking out vendor supplies and visiting a few in person. That order usually arrives in January or February, and she likes to have all of her displays ready by March.
In mid-April, Bateman usually places another order, and again in mid-June, depending on sales. In between, she partners with a few local vendors who can provide quick shipments in a pinch.
“It’s really important to go into the store each week and see how it’s displayed and see what’s not selling. I may give little hints to my staff on how to merchandise them,” Bateman says.
Asking vendors about their best-selling statuary is important when figuring out which items to load up on, Gallegos says.
“Get some different price points, get some things that will turn more than others,” he says. “If you think it’s cute and it’s a good price point, don’t be afraid to sell them. Those little impulse items are good to have.”
Gallegos may buy 20 of one item if he knows it is going to be a big seller. When it comes to larger impact items such as a fountain, he usually orders one and then restocks when it sells.
Price points and profit margins
Prices for statuary at McDonald usually range from $20 up to $300. Bateman says she rarely marks these items down, but will run a few sales for holidays, such as Mother’s Day, where gift giving is prevalent. Otherwise, product moves rather quickly. Bateman adds that she tries to stock unique items that cannot be found elsewhere in the market. Profit margins run about 55 to 60 percent on statuary, she says.
Statuary at Nick’s ranges from $8 up to $150, with a few items such as estate lions or large Buddha statues above that range. In August, Gallegos will usually begin marking down statuary by 20 percent and go up to 30 percent in September.
“That helps get us down on inventory for winter,” he says. “We always have carry over. If I wanted to I could sell completely out. We have shoppers on a mild day in October. You would be surprised … it sells.”
Holly is a freelance writer based in Cleveland, Ohio.