August 2013
2013 Merchandiser of the Year Finalists

Final Looks

Marina del Ray Garden Center

West Los Angeles, California

With water being the precious resource that it is in California, most of our customers are concerned about the amount of water their garden will require. They are interested in water-wise landscaping without sacrificing the look or feel that a lush garden can provide.

However, most California native plants have that “down” time, when before and after their peak bloom time, they look a bit tired.

In an effort to bring year-round interest to the garden and provide more choices for our customers, we also carry a deep selection of Australian and South African native plants. Sharing similar conditions and climates, native plants from these regions are the perfect complement to the California garden.

To promote and educate our customers about these plants, we created a fun, colorful, unique display approximately 1,100 square feet that shows the way these three regions can work together to create a beautiful, year-round landscape.

The display area is divided into three sections, each section representing a region. I wanted to use a fun icon that would represent each area and attract attention. For Australia, I used a 6-foot kangaroo with a baby roo in its pouch. Representing South Africa is a towering 9½-foot giraffe and for California, a pair of swimming dolphins with decorative, brilliant blue glass stones beneath them imitating the Pacific Ocean.

We also created stickers with each country’s flag and applied one to every container. To create even more interest, we added a waterfall in the middle of the display and placed colorful pottery throughout.

The display was created by general manager Cathy Hough, CJ Brehm-Stern and Jim Alexander.

– Cathy D. Hough, General Manager

McDonald Garden Center

Hampton, Virginia

Shop local is the theme for independent businesses all across America, and McDonald Garden Center is working to make the independent shopping experience unique and offer gardening inspiration to its customers.

In looking for ways to accomplish this McDonald’s developed a shop local campaign that was executed throughout all areas of the garden center. The spring theme tied into vegetable gardening and encouraged customers to be a backyard farmer, which reinforced “local” on multiple fronts.

Using pallets, which are all the rage on HGTV, in women’s magazines and on Pinterest, McDonald’s created a farmer’s market feel that featured all of the varieties of edibles that it sells along with the accessories to help make customers successful.

This display was built in April and will remain up through the fall, refreshing the product periodically. Owner Eddie Anderson created and designed this display, constructing it out of recycled pallets. It was located within the edible department at all three of our retail locations.

Shown here is McDonald’s Hampton year-round location. It also offered a way for McDonald Garden Center to embrace the trend, offer a unique display and to sell pre-constructed pallets to customers. During the season, McDonald’s created and sold premade pallets to customers. Customers have responded to the pallets as we have sold out several times throughout the season.

McDonald Garden Center also offered a pallet garden workshop to further pull through the concept. Customers have loved this unique creation. Almost all stop and stare at the display and then realize it is constructed solely of pallets. We have seen lots of smartphones snapping photos.

– Rebecca Topping, Marketing Director

Sky Nursery

Shoreline, Washington

Sky Nursery is “Sailing Away with Succulents” in 2013. Succulents are increasingly popular, and our display capitalized on this trend toward low-maintenance gardening, naturally paired with the tranquil feel and look of our unique local seashore. Inspiration for this display stemmed from the architectural structure of the succulents themselves, their fluid growth style, and how they visually evoke an oceanic quality.

Our goal was to inspire creativity in our customers while retaining their ability to easily shop the displays. With space at a premium, all of our displays are required to be effectively inspiring as well as utilitarian. Each area is designed to accommodate a good supply of shop-able product and to be easily restocked throughout the day. Rather than creating a single vignette, we built an interactive area that provided all the elements for our customers to make their own artful succulent gardens.

The display was installed in early April and remained in place through July. Sky Nursery has a large central fountain in the greenhouse that provides a year-round focal point. Building the display around this fountain was a natural choice to reinforce its prominence as a destination in our store, maximizing the amount of traffic the display experienced. Situated on the main aisle, the display was near other perennials and in close proximity to the indoor gardening department where the tender succulents are housed.

Salvaged materials were used to set the stage, including an old boat, a vintage fishing net, antique glass bottles and repurposed furniture. Custom, handmade signage enforced unity, peaking interest and defining the display area. Incorporated throughout were stunning planted arrangements prepared by our custom container department. A range of planted offerings on our tables included intimate table-top sized driftwood boxes, large patio-sized concrete oyster shells, and an impressively planted full-sized concrete fountain with strings of succulents spilling down the upper tier. A brightly painted coral rendering on the floor carried momentum between different parts of the display.

The theme, location and accessibility of the product translated into swift sales. The display also increased profits in other departments by introducing suggestive sales. We moved over 100,000 3½-inch succulents.

– Megan Eberhart & Meagan McManus, Visual Merchandisers; Lydia Coulter, Graphic Designer

Al’s Garden Center

Sherwood & Woodburn, Oregon

Each season the visual merchandising team at Al’s Garden Centers develops one major theme that is implemented for all three of its stores. From that theme each staff member — Barb Florig, Sheressa Dolph and Kela Parker — create their own interpretation of it into the displays they design. Since many of our customers cross shop our locations, it is always our goal to create a cohesive ambiance while maintaining the personality of each location.

The summer 2013 displays originated last fall when a batch of Adirondack chairs were being taken out of inventory. Always on the lookout for free props, we knew they would be perfect to repurpose for our summer look. The chairs were up-styled in 2013 Pantone-based fashion colors: raspberry pink, medium indigo blue and nectarine orange. They are fun, bright and work well with summer blooms.

Greeting customers as they come through the houseplant atriums are the first set of displays. The bright colors work great with both tropical plants and as a pop of color against the green of houseplants. In direct line of sight, and drawing customers visually out into the nursery, are the bigger perennial displays. Each display features matching pottery and an ever-changing selection of plants as blooms come and go.

The big wow factor this season greets Sherwood shoppers as they enter the perennial house. Standing 10 feet tall is a display of chairs in varying degrees of deconstruction attached to a recycled wooden greenhouse roof. Both customers and employees have commented on how at first they didn’t realize the chairs were in pieces; the eye assumes they are whole. It provides people the chance to slow down and really look, and be surprised.

The visual merchandising team loves to create new and innovative displays that keep customers coming back to see what we have been up to. Nothing is better then a repeat customer telling us how they love to come to Al’s to be inspired by the color and creativity. That is what our job is all about; and it’s what keeps us inspired to design the next big thing.

– Sheressa Dolph, Visual Merchandiser