AmericanHort will host Cultivate’24 from July 13-16 in Columbus, Ohio, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

June 2024
Green industry to gather at Cultivate’24 By Teresa McPherson

AmericanHort will host Cultivate’24 from July 13-16 in Columbus, Ohio, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

In addition to a bustling trade show floor, workshops and tours, Cultivate offers a number of educational learning tracks focused on strengthening your team and your business.

One three-part session in the Garden Retail track will bring together leading garden retailers, growers, wholesale plant nurseries and content creators to discuss how garden centers can set themselves up for success in 2025 and beyond. From 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 14, Clint Albin, retail strategist at Homestead Gardens, and Sam Kirkland, national business development strategist at Epicor, will moderate three panel discussions in the “Visioning to 2025” session.

The session will address the “three critical points that retail garden centers have to understand as they move forward to 2025 and beyond that will create profits, increase transaction count and create a steady flow of cash-and-carry from season to season,” Albin said.

Product Assortment

“Understanding Necessary Changes to Product Assortment That Can Drive Consumers to Your Store” will have three panelists representing buyers and how they look at assortment maximization.

Mark Sellew, president and owner of Prides Corner Farms, “will be speaking from the perspective of a super-regional grower currently invested in programmatic-type products that have built-in marketing,” Albin said. “He will speak from the perspective of what’s happening with assortment and what’s happening between the supplier and the buyer.”

Jerry Schmitt, lead category buyer at Stein’s Garden & Home, will share his experience as a green goods buyer of an IGC with 20 locations and his approach to a programmatic system to stock the stores on a weekly basis.

Rounding out the panel is Michelle Melton, senior category manager at Westlake Ace Hardware, who buys all the product for 225 stores. “This will be the first time that there has been an Ace Hardware speaker at Cultivate,” Abin said.

Revenue Diversification

The second session of “Visioning to 2025” will address revenue diversification. Mari Carrasquillo, vice president of marketing and e-commerce at Costa Farms will talk about consumer fulfillment.

Joel Turk, general manager at National Plant Network and Adam Miller, COO at The Sill, will discuss their relationship and how The Sill uses National Plant Network as a fulfillment company.

“They’ll talk about the way that the selection process works, how companies work together, what those seller vendor relationships look like … and help people understand how selecting a fulfillment vendor can actually provide a diversified revenue source for retail garden centers 365 days a year,” Albin said.

Content Creation

Content creation will be discussed in the third session. Content creation is changing every day, Albin said, and retailers of any size need to know what best-in-class content creation looks like and have an eye on the future.

“Jared Hughes, co-owner of Groovy Plant Ranch, is going to talk about what he’s doing, because I believe that he is a best in class. The way that he is using an editorial plan and the way he schedules the cadence — he is the baseline. Anybody who’s not doing things at that baseline isn’t using their resources properly.”

Apps continue to be gaining traction — and confusion — among garden retailers when it comes to creating content. Kurt Fromherz, owner of Sunrise Marketing, will discuss how they’re using artificial intelligence to populate an app for retailers, and Julie Moir Messervy, founder and CEO of Home Outside, will explain how her company uses AI to create landscape designs that retail garden centers can use on their website.

Both are examples of how garden centers can use AI to make money, Albin said, “but garden centers have to be informed of their existence. … If you’re just spending money, you’re not getting anything back from it. Being informed, having the right people involved, being clear about what the unified commerce stack should be — that’s how you will make money from it.”

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Photo courtesy of AmericanHort.

Teresa McPherson

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