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Posted:  01 Mar 2011 19:09  
Hi all,
Does everyone have a retail plant shop of some kind in addition to their interiorscape business?
Posted:  01 Mar 2011 20:36  
I am trying to determine if a retail plant shop is a beneficial extension of an interiorscaping business and from postings at the original Interiorscape.com I had the impression that many of the scapers posting did have a retail aspect to their business. Was that a correct assumption and if so, has that been an integral part of your business? Is it worthwhile?
Posted:  02 Mar 2011 02:37  
We began as a primarily retail/wholesale business on a busy highway in north/central NJ, then evolved into an interiorscape business as well.

Retail got us a lot of our earliest accounts (law partners come in to the store to buy a few "cheap" plants and wicker baskets for their new offices, then call us three weeks later when the legal secretaries go on strike about caring for the dying plants, and we get another new account that stays with us to this day).  But you need to commit to having store hours on weekends, holidays, etc. if you're going to be successful.  And you might need to add a retail florist department as well...there aren't many plants-only businesses these days.

Posted:  15 Mar 2011 02:26  
hard to compete with the big box stores, Lowes, Home Depot on pricing.  Think before you leap.  Are you in an area WITHOUT these stores, can you get into an area without them, would there be the clientele you need/walk in customers.  Do you have a plan in place to attract people to you?  Can  you get into a location with current/existing foot traffic?  Think strip mall (shudder) near a coffee shop.  What is the demographic you are aiming for?

I personally don't have a retail shop.  I don't want it.  Have worked in them, like them, don't want one.  Maybe down the road if things were "just right", but my business is not old enough yet to start another iron in the fire.  AND all those box stores ARE around me.  Larger greenhouses around here are having a hard enough time...and they are my friends and associates.  I don't want to shoot myself in the foot there. 

If you made your shop "high end" feeling without the cost of high end, would it work!?
Posted:  15 Mar 2011 03:45  
The obvious counter to Plantsforlife's take on this topic is that you DON'T "compete with the big box stores...on pricing"!  You set yourself apart by using your interiorscaper "hat" as a way of branding yourself as an expert, not just a peddler of plants.  YOU be the place people come for info as well as products.  YOU be the support system for your clientele in the retail end as well as you are for the interiorscape end.  And they will show their loyalty to you by paying more for your high-quality, well-maintained and creatively displayed inventory of plants, containers and accessories. 

You'll never win the price war, so run up the peace flag and create your own niche.  That's what we did, and it's the independent garden center's raison d'etre.

Posted:  17 Mar 2011 18:11  
Thanks for the input guys. In fact we are inundated with big box stores around here but their selection is so limited that I find people will purchase plants from florists at considerable (quadruple) mark-up or from exterior plant nurseries with limited interior plants also with considerable (triple) mark-up. There may be customers for a reasonably priced, boutique style plant store strategically placed but I think I will research significantly more. My main quest on this site was to find out if other 'scapers had gone retail and what that experience was like. I am so happy to have this site back!!!! Thanks everyone!
Posted:  17 Mar 2011 18:57  
This is definitely an interesting topic, especially regarding competition with the big box channels. This is a bit off-topic, so I do apologize.

It seems that the fact of the matter is, as Clem points out, it is impossible to compete with the larger chain retailers -- and often with other speciality dealers in the same market.

The area on which one must focus is their specialty and the value of the service they provide. It reminds me of a "down with BigMart" debate I often have with friends. My point is typically that the small mom & pop stores cannot compete with big retailers, but they can live symbiotically with them.

BigMart isn't going away (well, let's not talk about shake-ups with Borders, Blockbuster, etc.) and that's because at the end of the day, they provide the consumer with savings. The important thing to realize here is that this leaves a little more money in the pocket of the consumer -- which they can now spend on specialty items and services which they may not have otherwise been able to afford.

I admit that I will buy my generic canned goods at the big store, but then I turn right back around and go to the neighborhood butcher who has been around for 75 years and treat myself to a locally-produced steak.

As far as the retail store location, it can be a huge leap of faith and you have to be absolutely certain because it can make or break a business. The way I look at it, however, if you are in a position to start on a very small scale, I tend to see the store primarily as an advertising expense. Your name is out there. People see you in the community. Walk-ins do happen.

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