April 2023
Big (box) thinking By Teresa McPherson

I try to avoid the big box stores, but sometimes you have to pay attention to what they’re doing — because anything they can do, you can do better.

A news release recently crossed our editorial staff’s desk announcing that Lowe’s is debuting an in-store kids’ birthday party program. The Build a Birthday parties are meant to build on the store’s successful monthly kids’ workshops. Ten Lowe’s stores will pilot the party program, for which parents book a paid, private, two-hour party that includes DIY project kits for 12 kids.

Upsells include pizza, drinks and dessert from Domino’s, as well as Lowe’s merch like T-shirts and water bottles.

Does your store offer events or parties for kids? Back in the day when fairy gardens were all the rage, I knew of stores that hosted special events and parties for young kids. With today’s teens and young adults caring more about where their food comes from, maybe offer vegetable gardening classes or workshops with themed plantings like Grow a Pizza Garden or a selection of aromatherapy herbs.

Speaking of kids gardening, read about how Coast of Maine Organic Products is sharing the love of gardening with the next generation with its Growing Good program here.

Going Virtual

Not to be outdone, The Home Depot is taking kids’ parties to the metaverse. A new Virtual Kids Workshop will take place on the online game platform and game creation system Roblox.

According to the press release, the virtual workshops will challenge gamers to play and learn by collecting materials in a virtual scavenger hunt to build their choice of three projects. Players will visit the retailer’s metaverse storefront, where they will be greeted by a virtual store staffer wearing the iconic orange apron. Players then choose which project they want to build: a birdhouse, a mini flower garden or a small car.

Gamers can leave the store with their project and use it throughout the game’s virtual island Redcliff City.

What could this mean for garden retailers? I’m not suggesting you build your store a storefront on Roblox (although my teenage son — part of the next generation of gardeners — is somewhat obsessed with the game, as are his friends), but maybe think about meeting some of this next generation where they are. TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat … they’re already there — is your store?

I’m reminded of what Garden Media Group president Katie Dubow said when talking about why garden centers should be on TikTok — because your customers are. She wasn’t saying open an account and post videos every day; open an account so your customers can tag you. Not to mention, it shows you who your customers are and how they are experiencing your store and your merchandise.

Isn’t that worth downloading an app for?

Teresa McPherson

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