The fall of 2015 was crunch time for retailers, as major credit card companies Europay, Mastercard and Visa were in the process of enacting a new standard of transaction processing called EMV. Operating on smart chips embedded in new credit and debit cards, the system required retailers to install new chip readers in their terminals. A deadline of Oct. 1 was announced as the day retailers would assume liability for fraudulent purchases if they didn’t meet the EMV equipment requirements. Months after the deadline, how many retailers are fully employing the new technology and how has it impacted the reliability of secure payments? To find out, CardHub polled 55 major national retailers, ranging from restaurants to grocery stores, in a March survey.
Easy-Fill Garden Watering StakesPlant Nanny Company, Inc.
With these terracotta watering stakes, recycled 2 liter bottles convert into water reservoirs by cutting off the base and attaching the neck to the stake. This allows for the reservoir to easily be re-filled with a hose or watering can. Water releases slowly through the stake and is absorbed by the plant’s root system. This process promotes optimum growth and encourages more bountiful harvests, making it a perfect watering solution for vegetable and container gardens.
The HC Companies
Planters’ Pride, a division of the HC Companies Inc., has released “GreenWell,” a well that helps direct water deep into the roots of trees to reduce watering time and usage. This new product is made from recycled plastic polypropylene, and its patented zip joint helps ease installation and reuse. The GreenWell has the capacity to hold seven gallons of water, and it is generally put around newly planted trees, although it can also be used for roses, herbs, bulbs, shrubs or tomatoes. In addition to saving water, the GreenWell also works on sloping uneven ground and acts as an edging, which prevents fertilizer and/or mulch from being scattered. With no runoff or evaporation, the GreenWell can help reduce water waste by up to 25 percent. The GreenWell is UV treated and comes in either black or green, and is available for purchase in North America.
Savannah Elevated Garden Rain Saver
Good Ideas Inc.
The 50-gallon, colonial-style Savannah Elevated Garden Rain Saver features a full one-cubic-foot, self-draining top for planting and two brass spigots that allow for hose hookup, using every drop of water. A meshed screen blocks debris from entering the water supply. The top compartment acts as a planter space and also self-drains when excess water is present. The strong, regal lines and flat back design make the Savannah ideal for placing next to the home, patio or along pathways. The Savannah Elevated Garden Rain Saver is constructed of thick, durable polyethylene with an exterior appearance of a classic colonial planter box. The Savannah measures 31.5 inches by 19.5 inches by 24.25 inches, weighs 25 pounds, is available in gray and is made in the USA.
An excerpt from the free e-book “Grow Gorgeous Container Gardens” was reprinted with permission from Costa Farms. This is part of a series of e-books Costa is producing for consumers, and it was released in March.
5 tips for container design
1. Pay attention to plant size. Use plants that stay in scale with one another, that way you don’t have one variety that overgrows the others.
2. Take advantage of foliage. Choose plants that have interesting or colorful foliage to keep your container looking good if blooms fade.
3. Select a color scheme. Make the most impact with just a few plants by coordinating colors.
4. Add color with cool pots. An interesting planter is an easy way to accent your container garden.
5. Look at textures. After you choose the colors you like, make your containers sing by employing contrasting textures.
5 tips for container care
1. Water well. Your plants rely on you for moisture. If you have an especially hot spot, consider an automatic drip-irrigation system to do the job for you.
2. Fertilize. Keep your potted plants thriving with an application of timed-release fertilizer at planting time.
3. Pinch for perkiness. Don’t be afraid to pinch or trim any plants that get leggy or overgrown.
4. Add mulch. Use a layer of mulch over the top of your container to keep it cool and reduce water loss from evaporation. You have to water less with mulch!
5. Ensure good drainage. Unless you’re growing a water garden, be sure your container has drainage so excess water can escape.
Plant your container garden
Designing and planting beautiful hanging baskets is easy and just takes a few minutes!
Step 1: Select your basket. Choose a basket that matches your style. Hanging baskets come in two types: plastic and moss. Plastic baskets are easy to plant and care for. Moss baskets consist of a wire frame with a moss or coconut-hull lining. They look more natural than plastic, and you can plant them on all sides to create a ball of bloom. Moss baskets dry out more quickly and need a bit more water to keep them looking good.
Step 2: Look for drainage holes. Good drainage is essential. If you’re working with a plastic hanging basket, make sure it has drainage holes in the bottom. Quality plastic baskets have a drip tray attached to prevent water from spilling down on your head when you water. Moss and coir are permeable so drainage isn’t a problem.
Step 3: Buy potting soil. Choose a quality potting mix. Never use soil directly from your garden; it hardens into a concrete-like ball when dry. Some potting mixes contain granules of dry, slow-release fertilizer, which is an added bonus.
Step 4: Start planting. Add potting mix until it’s an inch below the basket rim. Press into place. Then make holes large enough for your plants. Place the tallest plant in the center of the basket. Surround with bushy, medium-size plants. Tuck in trailing plants around the basket edges to cascade down. After the plants are in place, sprinkle more potting mix to cover the roots.
Step 5: Fertilize. If your potting mix doesn’t contain fertilizer, sprinkle granular, timed-release fertilizer when you plant. Scatter it over the top as if you were adding pepper to a salad. Every time you water, fertilizer will release into the soil, feeding your plants.
Step 6: Just add water. Once you’ve planted your basket, water it thoroughly. Use a watering can or gentle mist from your garden hose until you see water running out of the drainage holes on the bottom of the container.
When an independent business thrives, it does not do so in a vacuum. Many ventures succeed thanks in no small part to the support of the local community. Garden center retailers, being no exception, are eager to engage their markets directly through workshops, festivals and other destination events.
Many retailers make it a priority to educate consumers about available products, current growing trends and gardening tips with seminars, workshops and other informative gatherings. Some open their doors during holidays and other important occasions, giving customers and their families a place to celebrate and socialize.
Armstrong Garden Centers, a retailer with 32 locations throughout California, takes pride in the variety of classes and educational sessions on its calendar. Desiree Heimann, vice president of marketing for Armstrong Garden Centers and Pike Nurseries [located in the Atlanta, Ga. area and in Charlotte, N.C.,] says these events give the company insight into the lives of its customers, in addition to giving people the skills they need to succeed in their home gardens.
These events cover topics including the basics of organic gardening, distinguishing pests from helpful critters, pointers for growing citrus in a home garden and many more. Armstrong also holds “make-and-take” arts and crafts classes for projects such as handmade planting containers. While other events at Armstrong locations are free of charge, the make-and-take classes cost roughly $40 per class, depending on the type of craft taken home.
“We have created and modified our classes over the years so we can better understand our customers, including where they are in life, their behaviors and their thoughts and feelings toward shopping for plants and garden items,” Heimann says. “While our customers rely on us for this expertise, many also want to increase their own gardening knowledge so they are more confident and successful.”
Helping customers learn the craft of gardening can take many shapes. Beth Zwinak, manager of Tagawa Gardens in Centennial, Colo., finds value in going the extra mile to offer knowledge in specialized sessions for specific groups both inside and outside of the store. This also gives members of the local community a welcoming meeting place.
“We also do a large selection of private classes for community groups, either here or off the premises,” Zwinak says. “We call that our outreach department. [Customers] come in and pick the topic that they want to hear about. A garden club might have a meeting here, then we’ll do a little 45-minute seminar for them.”
Tagawa Gardens has been hosting public events for more than 20 years and started offering “outreach” events seven years ago, Zwinak says.
The life of the party
Garden center retail events often go beyond skill-building and education. At the start of growing seasons, during holidays or just for fun, many companies provide their communities with a celebratory focal point to create positive experiences beyond merely purchasing goods.
“We kick off each season with a [public] garden party event on a Thursday evening,” Heimann says. “During the event, we have a bartender serving complimentary wine, fruit and cheese and offer customers 20 percent off their purchase. We understand that our customers prefer shopping in upscale shops, appreciate the difference in the shopping experience ... these events focus on those preferences and set us apart from the competition.”
Family-friendly attractions that form lasting relationships between the business and its customers are a major benefit for Tagawa Gardens, Zwinak says.
“Our mission statement is to provide an enjoyable experience for our community,” Zwinak added. “We want people to come, we want families and community to come and just have a great time with us, learning things not even necessarily all garden related, and just be a community center, a gathering place.”
Finding the payoff
While it’s not a simple matter to place a dollar value on the upsides of these social and educational events, retailers with active calendars say the results speak for themselves - both in regard to the bottom line and customer satisfaction.
“We try to quantify the impact, but I don’t think it’s quantifiable in a way that’s numeric,” Zwinak says. “I think the impact goes way further. When we started these events, we’re seeing people now that came as children who are bringing their children to these events because it’s such a tradition for these families. So, that’s just amazing.”
Heimann is confident the events hosted at Armstrong locations have given tangible boosts to the company’s revenues.
“Our events have the largest bottom line impact to the business as they create sales records,” Heimann says. “In general, both the events and customer classes focus in our customer’s preferences and creates a unique shopping experience customers can’t find at a competitor.”
Making it happen
Of course, these events and their resulting benefits don’t happen with a wave of the hand. Zwinak says Tagawa Gardens is served by an events coordination team with a full-time mission of arranging the retailer’s broad array of events. This would be much harder to pull off with staff members given the task of organizing the calendar in between their main duties, Zwinak says.
“We actually have three people in our events department, so it’s not just an aside for someone,” Zwinak says. “We have an events coordinator, we have an assistant and another person who helps out as well. That’s their main focus, they don’t do anything else but that. Because of our outreach, our off-site events … it takes a lot of folks to coordinate them.”
Managing a calendar of events for one retail location is a demanding enough prospect. For Armstrong Garden Centers, there are 32 locations to keep on the same page, so a well-communicated plan is “critical for consistent execution,” Heimann says.
Regardless of the form these events take and how they’re executed, retailers do well to remember their reasons for welcoming the community into their stores.
“We want to be a part of people’s lives,” Zwinak says. “Our community has been good to us, so we want to give back to the community as much as we can.”
Lannes via J. Berry Nursery
Sun-loving annuals, perennials and ground covers in a mixed container.
Consumer care requirements
Place in a location that receives six or more hours of sunlight daily, keep soil moist, not saturated, and protect in temperatures below 33 degrees.
Extremely compact habit
Grows to height/width
4 to 5 feet high by 4 to 5 feet wide
How long has it been on the market?
Hot Head Hollywood Hibiscus has a vivid true-red color, multi-day lasting blooms, outstanding bud and bloom count, deep green foliage, a natural compact growth habit and resistance to bacterial leaf spot.
The Hollywood Hibiscus brand lends itself to a multitude of creative merchandising ideas, due to its “celebrity” name. Try using the Hollywood sign and vintage projectors and cameras on an endcap display, make star cutouts for an exciting Walk of Fame near the storefront, or create a Hollywood Hibiscus Selfie Station where customers can take photos with their favorite varieties.