May 2016
Living the Organic Lifestyle By Sam Ujvary

How one garden center customer took his hobby and sprouted it into an urban gardening movement your store might want to get behind.

For many people, living a clean and healthy lifestyle can be infectious. What starts out with exercise, a healthy diet and routine yoga classes eventually snowballs into grocery shopping for organic food, household and personal hygiene products.

There’s a movement out there that has people thinking if they’re taking better care of their bodies, why not expand that to include taking care of their environments as well?

For Chad Corzine his newest endeavor allowed him to hit two proverbial birds with one organic stone. It eventually led him to start his own company, Urban Agriculture.

A little over a year ago, Corzine was working for the family business (candle company Archipelago).

He had been on the road, working long hours and not eating particularly healthy.

Having grown concerned about his lifestyle, Corzine saw the need for a change. So he started exercising and eating more of a balanced diet. “Throughout that process,” he says, “I got the idea of why couldn’t I grow vegetables on my own balcony?”

The Urban Quandary

Living in a Los Angeles apartment, a balcony garden was no easy feat — think a broken low- raised bed with soil and water trickling down from a top-floor apartment balcony.

Really wanting to try his hand at gardening, Corzine pondered a simpler method.

“None of (the grow kits on the Internet) really offered me the ability to plant it and leave it. There was always ‘buy this, plant a seed and buy more soil,’ and these $15 grow kits were turning into $40 experiments and headaches,” he says. UrbanAgriculture_1369

That’s where his idea developed. In June 2015, Corzine and a couple friends began to locally source garden supplies to build grow kits in his apartment and sell them at farmers markets and swap meets.

“After I found out that I could grow my own little balcony garden, I figured everyone would want to get a hold of this,” he says.

He was right.

In November he went to the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena and sold somewhere in the ballpark of 150 grow kits in three hours — at full retail.

It was about that time that his father convinced him to leave the family business and pursue this full time. It was sound advice; Urban Agriculture will be in more than 800 stores this year.

His company seems to have been the result of a perfect storm consisting of a gift industry background, tremendous passion for a project of this caliber and seeing the need for this type of product.

Catapulted by the desire for Corzine to start his own business, Urban Agriculture was bound to hit the ground running. “This idea — no pun intended — just worked out organically,” Corzine says.

A Fit for Garden Centers

In part, the recent success of Urban Agriculture can be credited to the seemingly perpetual uptick in organic product usage, clean lifestyle living and our world’s desire to alter its carbon footprint.

The green lifestyle movement continues to thrive and evolve, no longer confining its products to a single type of specialty store.

“If you had someone in the ‘90s ask where they can go to buy hemp clothing, you would have told them to check out a head shop; that’s the only place in the world that would sell it. Now you can go to Urban Outfitters and buy stuff that’s made out of hemp,” says Corzine. “I think conceptually that’s going to happen with a lot of the things we create as well as other people in our industry. You’ll start finding items everywhere because there’s a need for them.”

There’s a need for this type of product especially for city dwellers who feel they have a black thumb. Ideal as a personal purchase or a gift-able, the grow kits were designed for individuals with no gardening experience as well as organic aficionados, exponentially diversifying the company’s customer base.

Customers are becoming increasingly aware of how to preserve their surroundings.

Dedicating a space in your garden center for novice gardening products will only ensure sales and, at the very least, awareness.

As Corzine put it: “There will be a lot more people in this world trying to get into this stuff. Which is fine — the more people, the more awareness. We all win.”

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Sam Ujvary

Sam Ujvary is an editor with Gift Shop magazine. She can be reached at [email protected]





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