February 2004
Big is back By Neda Simeonova

Oversized specimen pieces can enhance and attract customers to your pottery department.

Even the most successful businesses lose something if they fail to stay fresh and keep up with trends. So what does it take for lawn and garden retailers to stay on top? Although high on the list, introducing new products and services is not the only way to appeal to your customers. Sometimes, fresh ideas are right under your nose.

When was the last time you looked at your pottery department and thought of new ways to brighten up the atmosphere and bring more traffic to that area? Stale department design and pottery displays, not necessarily products, tend to drive customers away to other parts of your store or worse, another store.

So if you are looking for a way to spruce up your pottery department, think fresh, think different, think large. Oversized pieces are now, more than ever, incorporated in garden centers’ displays.

Think Large

Mike Pasquesi, owner of Pasquesi Home and Gardens in Barrington and Lake Forest, Ill., said, “We may have anywhere from six to eight larger pieces planted up so people can see how different kinds of plant material looks in different kinds of pots.” Pasquesi Home and Gardens offers a large assortment of pottery and garden art. “We try to highlight the really large, more showcase-like pieces in different areas of the store,” Pasquesi explained. “At the entrance we might put two really big pieces, so as people walk in they immediately see them and ask themselves ‘oh, how would those look in front of my house?'”

Pasquesi Home and Gardens carries a broad selection of pottery styles in concrete, terra cotta, cast iron as well as poly and a line of fiberglass. It wants to make sure customers are able to find what they want, and by having a specific area in the store that features containers and garden statuary, Pasquesi ensures that when the customers come in and they are coming for the sole purpose of finding a container, they can go to a location in the store and find everything in one vicinity. According to Pasquesi, “that way they can see and decide, ‘do I want cast iron or do I want concrete, or do I want to go with clay?'” But Pasquesi doesn’t stop there. “What we also do is try as much as possible to incorporate different types of containers with our plant material,” Pasquesi said. “On our plant tables, we may put a larger urn and then drop a hanging basket in there so the customer can see the different types of color tones and how they look with the pots.”

Department Accents

In addition to having a designated area for its pots and statuary, Pasquesi Home and Gardens makes sure its pottery displays are featured throughout the store and uses them to accent different departments. “They [the containers] are not just focused in our container area, but they may be used as separate end caps from the rest of the containers,” Pasquesi explained. “We’ll take end caps in our plant departments and put maybe just one larger piece with plant material in it so people can see how it looks.”

According to Pasquesi, one key to having a successful pottery department is that employees are constantly working and reorganizing their container area, almost on a daily basis. “Because things change, people buy items off the displays or we decide that we want to highlight cast iron one week and then the next week we want to highlight poly, we are constantly moving items around,” Pasquesi said. “It changes a lot. Sometimes we are just reworking end caps, and maybe if we see one of the bigger pieces that we really want to highlight, we’ll move that up front to a better end cap so the displays change almost daily.”

Final Touches

Keep in mind however, that although fresh display ideas are important traffic driving factors, what sets you aside from other retailers is being there to serve the customer, particularly when you are dealing with heavier items in your pottery department. “Large items such as concrete and cast iron demand you to have people available for questions or to move pots,” Pasquesi explained. “This is a high-maintenance department. Customers want to touch and feel the items; they want to see if the stain is going to rub off; they want to put pairs together and see how they work.” According to Pasquesi, in addition to fresh display ideas, Pasquesi Home and Gardens has really made a conscious effort to have good customer assistance in its pottery department.

Neda Simeonova

Neda Simeonova is associate editor for Lawn & Garden Retailer. She can be reached by phone at (847) 391-1013 or E-mail nsimeonova@sgcmail.com.





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