5 Minutes With … Brian Rapp creative director at CountryMax Stores

July 2024
5 Minutes With … Brian Rapp By Teresa McPherson

Brian Rapp is creative director at CountryMax Stores, a family-owned retailer celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Brian Rapp is creative director at CountryMax Stores, a family-owned retailer that just opened its 19th location in Auburn, New York, and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

What brought you to the green industry?

I am an advertising writer by background, and I did some freelance work for CountryMax Stores about five years ago. One thing led to another and it became a full-time job. I’ve always dabbled in a little gardening and do a lot of outdoor activities, so it was a good fit. I spent a decade working in the business-to-business world for Xerox, banks, health insurance companies … This is much more hands-on, a feel-good category.

What is the best part about your job?

The fact that customers love us. There’s genuine, emotional love — they are buying the plants that they love from a store that they enjoy, and it’s an important part of their lives — so that’s very satisfying. I work in the Support Center but get out to stores a few times a week, talk to customers and feel their happiness about buying plants and other things that we sell.

What keeps you up at night?

Are we going to have enough inventory for a product we have on sale? Is plant material going to be the quality expected year to year? Are all the teams in the stores going to be watering to maintain the quality of that plant material? What’s our next event or promotion? How will it be bigger and better? What are the giant box stores charging for mulch? And how much is a social media follower really worth? So many things to worry about.

If you weren’t in this profession, what would you be doing?

I love bicycling, going on bike tours and skiing in the wintertime. Another thing I’m trying to learn more about is canvaswork, like boat canvases and covers. But before this industry, I was in advertising in the more business to business channels — that’s probably where I would still be.

Favorite plant to grow?

Cucumbers. I love to eat them, and they are very easy to grow. A few years ago, the first time we planted cucumbers there were just too many plants, they were yielding too much. We cut back the little raised beds they were in and still got plenty.

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Teresa McPherson

Teresa McPherson is the managing editor of Lawn & Garden Retailer. Contact her at [email protected].