May 2011
May Madness: Our Final Four

While the judges are in deliberation to pick a winner, check out the finalists for our 2011 Merchandiser of the Year competition.

Celebrate Your Entrance
Al’s Garden Center • Sherwood, Oregon

Created at Al’s Garden Center by Denee Beene last spring and summer, these displays were featured in the same location near one of the main entrances into Al’s greenhouse. For the spring display, Al’s marketing campaign focused on the saying: “Not all plants are created equal, nor are their people.” Therefore, this display featured a purple mannequin that represented Al’s employees — aka Purple People. The purple mannequin wore plant inspired attire made from fabric, wire and hot glue. The live plants featured consisted of many different varieties, colors and textures to show customers the variety of Al’s plants.
Some of the plants featured included: tuberous begonias, ‘Rainbow’ and ‘Jester’ New Zealand flax, exbury azalias, curly willow, ‘Northern Lights’ tussok grass, Golden elderberry, ‘Magic Carpet’ spirea and ‘Snowflake’ doublefile viburnum. In addition to the purple mannequin and live plant material, this display featured hand made flowers. The flowers were all made from lime green, purple and orange fabric hot glued around wire that were formed into petal shapes to represent how no single plant or flower, for that matter, are created equal.

As the spring display’s main focus was featuring plant material that tied into our marketing campaign, so did the Celebrate Summer display. The plant material consisted of ‘Hidcote’ lavender, ‘Nishiki’ willow and gerbera daises. The variety of plant material was kept at a minimum, unlike the spring display, as the marketing focus was driven towards the celebratory nature of summer. Therefore, the lavender was used to create a fragrant display that excited the senses. The gerberas were used as a bold, yet fanciful color and texture with the willow plants reflecting the texture of the boas that hung above. The boas tie into the ‘Celebrate Summer’ concept with their streamer-like appearance that is quintessential to the average birthday party or celebration. The boas were made from the same fabric as the spring display flowers and were combined with some table cloth plastic. The summer display gave customers a small taste of the sensory overload of summer that was about to hit them as they entered the greenhouse.

Going Broke(n), Successfully
East River Nursery • Huron, South Dakota

Have you ever wondered what to do with all the broken and beat up pottery that seems to end up in a pile behind the greenhouse ever year? You hate to throw out pieces that are slightly cracked and there’s only so much that you can put on the sale table at a reduced price. Well, East River Nursery has it figured out. They are fortunate to have a seasonal staff member who can use these discards and turn them into money making items.

Working part time in the spring and early summer, Ellen Halter is responsible for East River’s Naturescapes, says owner Julie Hoffman. “Her pieces are like paintings, with all sorts of elements that take you into your own little world.”

Combinations of stone, metal, pottery, figurines and plants are all intricately meshed together to form the perfect picture. Once the combinations are done, it doesn’t matter if the pot is cracked or a big chunk missing, it looks like it was meant to be that way. Ellen doesn’t stop with annuals for the planters, she also uses perennials and small trees and shrubs to complete the scene. Ellen’s secret weapon is “Goop” glue, which works well to fasten the figurines and pottery in the planter.

When Ellen started to do these pieces, East River created signage to anchor the displays. With an in-house photo, the garden center turned to a local printer to mount the photo on a waterproof corex board with appropriate copy. These display stands match other stands to keep the retailer’s look consistent. The Naturescapes department is displayed on the walkway in between the main store and the greenhouse entrance, so customers walked by the display two to three times during their visit at the store.

The Naturescapes were popular among customers, especially children. What made them even more special was that no two were the same, so people really thought they had something very unique when they made their purchase.

Costs for the project were minimal, and signage costs were around $45. Materials for the display stands were recycled from lumber already on the lot. The best part of all, is that East River was able to recycle the broken pottery that would have been
thrown away.

Succulent Stewardship
Habersham Gardens • Atlanta, Georgia

The green roof concept has been widely accepted in Europe for many years and is gaining popularity in the U.S. Aside from their aesthetic qualities, green roofs can reduce heating and cooling bills, decrease storm water runoff, improve that runoff water’s quality and help decrease a city’s heat island effect.

Considering its intown Atlanta location and that a large majority of its customer base is comprised of urban dwellers, Habersham Gardens recognized an excellent opportunity to showcase and demonstrate the simplicity of the concept to raise interest and hopefully inspire and encourage its customers to create their own roof gardens.

Habersham installed its green roof in early spring 2010 and filled it with succulents. Then Habersham watched its succulent sales go through the roof. The roof garden continued to flourish and fill in throughout the summer and fall. It is still intact and will be refreshed
this spring.
Habersham Gardens owner Deborah Harrison designed the roof garden and was inspired by the environmental benefits as well as the amazing selection of succulents consistently available in her Southeast region. The ‘Jaws’ agave is one of her personal favorites and Habersham could not keep them in stock.

The roof garden was installed on the garden center’s little red barn, which was the original cashier hut when it opened in 1996. It is situated at the end of a main path so customers have a clear view from the entrance. The succulent display tables are conveniently located immediately to the right of the roof garden.

The Habersham Gardens team was happily overwhelmed with the positive responses they received. Many of their green-minded customers were excited to see a roof garden come to life and others simply appreciated its striking aesthetic quality. Habersham is considering adding a roof-garden workshop to its spring events since the concept continues to gain interest and so many customers had questions about how to do it themselves. An unexpected side benefit was an increase in container sales. Many customers were not ready to take on the roof garden project but were still inspired by Habersham’s selection of succulents. A potted up large broken container was used as an inspirational eye-catching endcap.

Pottery & Pooches
Rutgers Landscape & Nursery
Ringoes, New Jersey

Rutgers Landscape & Nursery always had the greenhouse set up with standard tables in the most usual of ways during peak season, but when summer came, it was time for something more eye catching and appealing. They put together displays highlighting all the different pottery that in stock — from a terra cotta corner to small and large glazed pottery. The most eye catching display was smack dab in the middle of the greenhouse where customers couldn’t help but shop the table because of its enormous sized palm that was in the center pot filled with all sorts of annuals and tropicals.

From that table Rutgers sold more than half of the pottery it had left in the store. Also, snow fencing was placed on the roof of the greenhouse to cut down on the extreme sunlight that was coming in and not only did it provide enough sunblock but it also put a new twist on the ambiance of the entire greenhouse.

Another key merchandising effort at Rutgers was last season’s green-roofed doghouse. Marketing manager Kris Santiago says, “I’d been dying to introduce a green roof to our customers for some time and experimenting with a doghouse seemed like a good way to try it out.”

The doghouse display had a three-part focus: to show that dogs are welcome in the nursery, to encourage green building and to showcase Rutgers’ selection sedums. The planning and implementation took a few weeks because Rutgers contracted a local carpenter to build a “well-made, cottage-y doghouse.” A staff member with a degree in landscape architecture helped with the green roof technology. The staff then had fun landscaping around it, placing stepping stones in front and trading out whatever perennials were in bloom under the windows. Santiago says the new display has helped boost sedum sales and spread Rutgers’ green/dog-friendly message.



In addition to the prestigious title of Merchandiser of the Year, the winner will receive a $250 Wholesale Gift Credit and a 15 percent discount toward Braun Horticulture's beautiful 2011 catalog offering. The winner will also be featured in the July issue of Lawn & Garden Retailer.





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