Emerald Coast Growers - Garden Center Magazine

2022-03-11 09:24:13 By : Ms. jessica yu

The easy choice for perennials, grasses, succulents and specialty plants.

Emerald Coast Growers is proud to have more than 25 years of success in the horticulture business. With more than 500,000 sq. ft. of greenhouse space plus 55 acres of farmland and locations in both the northeast and southeast, Emerald Coast Growers consistently supplies top quality starter plants to growers throughout North America.

Known for our wide variety of perennial starter plants and specialty plants, Emerald Coast Growers still maintains the distinction of being one of the industry’s largest suppliers of ornamental grass liners to North American growers and retailers.

We seek out the finest genetics available from the world’s premier breeders, and also offer exclusive selections like Calamagrostis x acutiflora Hello Spring!, Miscanthus sinensis Little Miss, Miscanthus sinensis Fat Cat, Miscanthus sinensis Scout, Muhlenbergia Fast Forward™; Panicum Hot Rod; Stokesia Divinity; and Andropogon Rain Dance.

Some of the newest picks include:

Calamagrostis × acutiflora Lightning Strike®, featuring broad foliage with central stripes of creamy white, edged in green. Reaching a height of 3 feet, Lightning Strike thrives in sun-part shade and is hardy in zones 4–10.

Pennisetum alopecuroides Etouffee (‘Tift PA17’) PPAF features light pink foxtail plumes rising over graceful arching mounds. An infertile variety that flowers spring to fall and will not reseed. Loves sun-part shade, grows to 42 inches and is hardy in zones 5 to 9.

Pennisetum a. Hush Puppy (‘Tift PA5’) PPAF has long-lasting pink plumes that spray high over rounded mounds of slender foliage. A long-flowering infertile selection that won’t reseed. Prefers sun-part shade, reaches 30 inches tall and is hardy in zones 5 to 9.

Pennisetum a. Jambalaya™ (‘Tift PA19’) PPAF forms tidy, uniform mounds with slender erect foliage and silvery-pink plumes. A long-flowering infertile variety that won’t self-sow. Prefers sun-part shade, reaches a height of 38 inches and is hardy in zones 5 to 9.

For more information on these selections or any of Emerald Coast Growers’ products, visit our website or contact sales@ecgrowers.com or 877-804-7277.

 For more information, visit www.ecgrowers.com

Go Rustic, it’s timeless

Colorful and aesthetically pleasing designs are synonymous with the up-and-coming Texas-based company Rustic Arrow. With an innovative and savvy business model, it has quickly become a leader in the market for artisanal craftsmanship across the nation.

Known for its elegant, one-of-a-kind merchandise, Rustic Arrow prides itself in offering an extensive catalog of metal, wrought iron, wood and seasonal items. Their large selection of products is not only trendy but also environmentally friendly, with a large majority of them being almost completely made from recycled metal.

Its impressive repertoire includes handicrafts that would be appropriate in an upscale environment as well as to decorate patios, kitchens, living rooms and various other indoor and outdoor settings.

The homely pieces attract artists, interior designers and collectors alike. Often sold at renowned conferences and exhibitions, the products are exclusively reserved for wholesale purchases.

The items are handmade by Mexican artisans who work year-round to render their unique creations. Customers from throughout the United States acquire these items to add a personal touch to offices, hotels and residences.

The company’s vision is to serve their clients through their unique set of products. Their crafts bring together people from all walks of life and can easily complement almost any room or outdoor decor.

Although there is a wide variety of designs to choose from, Rustic Arrow’s most popular designs include its garden items such as majestic gazebos, farm animals, bird houses, signs, flowerpots, hanging baskets, trellis, topiaries, fences, benches and arches.

The rustic finish on all their products adds to the pre-owned and scratched look that complements the vintage vibe of the items. Due to each piece being uniquely created and handmade, an item’s color and size may vary from those depicted in the catalog. This further confirms the authenticity and uniqueness of the products.

Rustic Arrow’s overall image is deeply rooted in the Mexican tradition of bright, simple and effortless items. Each creation plays a significant role in bringing the entire collection together.

Everyone is looking for the perfect home accent to make their space stand out or a garden sign to bring a theme together. Rustic Arrow offers affordable and extensive decor items to meet any design concept in mind.

Other highly sought-after products include their impeccable wood creations, windows and doors.

A full list of items can be found on their website at rusticarrow.com. Prospective clients can also call (956) 729-7741 or email at sales@rusticarrow.com for more information.

For more information, visit www.rusticarrow.com

How top garden centers use technology to increase sales, improve communication, and deliver a great customer experience.

1. Use an integrated email marketing tool to improve customer communication. Many people think of products like MailChimp and Constant Contact as marketing tools. They are ideal for that, but they can do a whole lot more. Consider using these products for automated messaging that is not marketing related. For example, you can welcome customers to your loyalty program, explain your standard terms and conditions, provide instructions for site preparation before landscaping services, and send planting and care instructions post purchase. Setting up automated workflows based on interactions with your brand gives you the opportunity to keep customers engaged with relevant and meaningful content outside of your typical marketing messaging.

2. Centralize care and culture information about the plants you sell in your POS system. This information can be used in a variety of materials, including on signs, labels and tags. You can also create plant information sheets that can be printed and emailed to customers quickly and on demand.

3. Consider volume-based pricing models to encourage more sales. Many stores use multiple pricing, i.e. “buy x, get 1 free” or “buy x, and get y% off your purchase” as a way to increase sales. Reward customers to purchase by the case or multi-pack. You can also offer deals such as, “buy 6 over the next three months and get the 7th free.” This works great for products like bags of topsoil, mulch, flats and more, and even better if the product is something that can be used year-round.

4. Use on-screen prompts to help your staff know when to up-sell. Leverage the capabilities of a robust POS system to prompt for companion products, delivery, installation and more. For example, when you sell a tree or shrub, have the system alert the clerk to suggest a great fertilizer to use when planting. When selling a cord of firewood, have the system prompt to offer to have the wood delivered and stacked. In the Rapid Garden POS system, these are called “sales kits” or “tag-a-long items,” and they are often not utilized to their full potential.

5. Plan and optimize your check-out experience prior to spring. When you are busy, customers who cannot wait end up walking out the door. During your winter downtime, put together a plan on how to streamline your check-out experience. Ask your cashiers if they have ideas on how to improve any bottlenecks. Your ultimate plan could involve things like temporary stations or mobile devices that “line bust” by pre-ringing tickets out in the yard or while a customer is in line. You can also brainstorm ideas with your POS provider. Something as simple as adding a few smart touch buttons on your POS stations can substantially enhance the check-out process.

6. Consider club or subscription-based offerings. Garden centers are finding creative ways to address customer needs and drive traffic into their stores — even during the slower times of the year. One great example of this is the use of clubs where customers come to the store to pick up their monthly or quarterly plant arrangement. Consider a “4 seasons” subscription, where each quarter the subscriber receives a seasonal planter. Customers pay now for items that will be provided over the coming year. Your customers can purchase a subscription for themselves or as a gift, and it also brings people into the garden center throughout the year. This is great for folks who like to have fresh planters and holiday-themed containers, but maybe don’t have the time or the space to plant up the pots. Subscription or club offerings can be complex, so be sure to discuss your ideas with your technology provider well in advance to find ways to best utilize your system to support these kinds of activities.

Economist Dan North discusses 6 major topics that could affect garden centers in the new year.

The United States government and media outlets regularly report that the economy is strong. But what’s really driving growth, and what are possible concerns and setbacks? Being aware of some key economic indicators and wage trends could help retailers and growers make more informed decisions to stay ahead, especially as the busy spring season approaches.

Sister publications Greenhouse Management and Produce Grower recently spoke with Dan North, chief economist for North America at insurance company Euler Hermes, about the state of the U.S. economy, what he’s hopeful about and where there are uncertainties. North is tracking the happenings of these six topics that include economic indicators, agreements and trends.

Dan North: Right now, consumer confidence is at an 18-year high. Consumer confidence started to ramp up right after the [2016 presidential] election. Like it or not, [the Trump administration] had a mostly pro-growth agenda. A lot of that has worked. Deregulation, tax cuts, that sort of thing, have actually helped the economy. That’s not enough, though, because that gives you the willingness to spend, but you need the ability to spend as well, which is personal income. Personal income growth has been kind of flat, below average for a number of years. But we think that’s going to go up. And the consumption, which is two-thirds of the economy — gets fueled by that income. We think the increase in income is going to increase consumption and broaden the economy.”

Dan North: Why do we think income is going to go up? Several reasons. There are pressures on wages. One, if you look at this ratio of job openings to unemployed people, it’s above one. It’s the highest it’s ever been, and basically, when it’s one, it means there’s a job available for every person that’s unemployed in the U.S. That ratio correlates really strongly with wage growth. So, that is putting pressure on wages.”

“There’s another variable we look at called the quits rate. What frequency do people quit their jobs? Because if you quit your job, you’ve got to be really confident that you’re going to get another one, or maybe you have another one already. That correlates strongly with wage prices as well.”

“The third thing is wage — hiring plans, particularly with small or medium businesses, [is] where the growth is. … There’s this National Federation of Independent Business survey, NIFB. Part of that survey — there are a number of questions. One is the percentage of respondents who are saying they want to expand employment. That’s up at a record high. This is the biggest single problem for most of the businesses and trade groups I talk to: they can’t find employees. There’s a skills mismatch. But basically, the point is, it’s a tight labor market, and that is going to drive wages up. And it’s driving up hourly wages slowly. If you look at weekly wages, what’s happening is, employers, since they can’t find more workers, are working the ones they do have longer hours, so weekly wages, which accounts for the hours, actually are growing fairly sharply — 3.4 percent. That’s an eight-year high.”

Dan North: Amazon went to $15 an hour. They’re a very profitable company and are able to do that. But again, broad-based wages are on the way up, particularly if you look at those weekly wages. $15 an hour — [as] a minimum wage — actually affects relatively few workers. Typically, minimum wage workers don’t stay at the minimum wage terribly long. They move up the wage curve as they get more productive. So, the push for $15 — a higher minimum wage — will do exactly what both the left and the right say it will do. Higher minimum wage will give people who already have a job more money. Higher minimum wage will also make it harder to employ somebody who doesn’t have a job, because if you’re in a fast food restaurant, for instance, and you’ve just had to increase your pay to these people you already have, it’s much more difficult to afford hiring more people now that you’ve got a minimum wage. So, you head toward automation in productivity and that sort of thing. It does exactly what most say it’ll do. And in this age, where we have a great deal of prosperity, if it has offsetting effects, maybe it’s the right thing to do. But usually, government shouldn’t interfere in wages or open-markets types of prices. It causes distortions that usually work against everybody.”

Dan North: It’s great if you can’t find people to work, to go to automation. There’s usually a big fear, and always has been, about automation and technological advancements, that they’re going to destroy jobs. And we’ve seen this from the industrial revolution forward. Every time there’s been an advancement, people say, ‘Oh, it’s going to destroy jobs.’ And it does destroy some jobs. However, for instance, a good example is a robot on an assembly line that replaces a worker. So, that job got destroyed. However, somebody’s got to design the robot, somebody’s got to build the robot, somebody’s got to install it, somebody’s got to write the software, somebody’s got to maintain it. So, you destroy one job and create several others, and the benefit has always been that it creates jobs, much against the fear of destroying jobs. If you’re the guy who gets your job destroyed, you don’t really care about that. You know the technology has destroyed your job. But from a macro viewpoint, if you look at it all together, technology — advancements — have always brought more prosperity overall.”

Dan North: I think to have the USMCA put into place, really, frankly, was a relief because it could have been really disastrous in a couple of industries — agriculture, for sure — autos, where a big supply chain had been established between the three countries. If that had been disrupted, it could have been really damaging, more so to Mexico and Canada than to us, but it truly could have damaged us. To get that solved, I think, was really a big relief. Now, there’s some changes in it, but they’re pretty minor, really. It’s mostly NAFTA with some tweaks like they’ve been talking about for years.”

Dan North: [When] you raise interest rates, of course that raises rates on all kinds of consumer loans, auto loans, mortgages. And that’s done on purpose. The Federal Reserve is charged with balancing the economy between inflation and unemployment. So, if they believe inflation’s coming, it’s their mandate to brake the economy, and that’s what raising interest rates does. The concern is at some point — and it will happen — the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates too much and that will push the economy into recession.”

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Patrick is associate editor of Greenhouse Management and Produce Grower magazines.

Tips for reviewing and updating garden center signs, tags and labels to make sure they are effective.

To state the obvious, if a sign isn’t noticed by your customers, it has no value other than possibly as a sun or wind screen. In order to be noticed, a sign needs to:

When shopping your store, many customers will not necessarily be actively looking for your message. Therefore, your signs must be easily seen and “heard.” One of the foundations of a good sign is that it is the proper size.

Proper sign size depends on three things:

With all these variables, there is no simple mathematical formula that provides a foolproof answer. However, for every 1 inch of letter height, you can add 10 feet of distance for optimal reading and 25 to 30 feet for maximum readability (see chart below).

Do not approve a sign solely by what you see on screen. Be sure to evaluate the size of the words in the real world. Learning from others is the easiest way to get the size and content right. If you are planning on a roadside sign, drive down a street that has the same speed limit as yours. Find signs that have roughly the same amount of information you have and are easily seen and understood as you drive by. Use those as the basis for yours.

Apply a similar approach for signs in your parking lot and in and around your garden center. Take a tape measure with you to other retail locations. Pick signs that are easy to read from a comparable distance to what you need at your store. Measure both the sign dimensions and letter height. Be sure to also document from how far you can easily read it. Of course, make adjustments to that distance based on how well or poorly you see compared to your average customer.

Additionally, you can use any of your existing signs as a basis. Are they easily readable from the same distance customers will see your new sign? If not, make the necessary adjustments in the design.

Before installing your sign, be sure to evaluate the proposed sign location from where and how your customers will see it. Think about:

It is quite common for people to be disappointed with the lack of “pop” on their actual signs versus what they approved on a monitor. Similar to font size, approving color choices based solely on what you see on a computer screen can result in signs that are difficult to read or that lack visual appeal. Again, learning from others is a great way to eliminate mistakes. Keep your eyes open and note what color combinations catch your eye and are easily read. In general, you will want high contrast; light colored text on dark colors and vice versa.

If you have the right size sign in the right location, your message now has a chance of being heard. To help increase the probability that you communicate effectively, it’s important to use the right words, symbols when appropriate, and images to complement the text.

The two most common content errors are 1) adding too much information and 2) using industry and technical terms that are not understood by your average customer. Keep the amount of text on your signs to a bare minimum. If they can’t be scanned, they typically won’t be read. Of course, the closer the sign is to the item being sold, the more text your sign can have (see images below),

When selecting words, be sure to use your customers’ vocabulary if it’s different than the technical or industry lingo. For example, are you a “nursery” or a “garden center?”

If you can use symbols in place of words, you may be able to communicate more with less. In some cases, you many need to educate your customers about what a symbol means. However, once they have learned it, it can be used. For example, consider the plant characteristic symbols (above).

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is an exaggeration and cliché, but it is true that the right image can certainly communicate on its own or help reinforce the text.

Once you have the right size and location with the right message, the final decision is to select the proper sign material to ensure your sign will hold up over time. There are a lot of choices, but the three most commonly used are coroplast, vinyl and mesh.

Coroplast stands for “corrugated plastic.” It is great for placing in A-Frames, securing to structures and hanging in areas where there is limited wind. Coroplast signs are printed on 8-foot-by-4-foot sheets and then cut to size. Signs can be single or double sided. Grommets are typically added to the corners to facilitate installation.

Vinyl is flexible and can be rolled up for shipping and storage. However, it makes installation a bit trickier, as you need to ensure it is stretched taut to look good. Vinyl comes in a variety of different qualities and thicknesses. If the sign will be hung outdoors, request vinyl with a block-out layer so that light will not bleed through the sign and make it difficult to read. Signs can be single or double sided. Grommets are added to the corners, and for larger signs, additional grommets are added every 2 linear feet around the edges. To reinforce the sign there are two additional options:

Mesh is flexible like vinyl. It is perforated and is ideal for windy areas as they let approximately 37 percent of air through the small holes. With the holes, the printed image is not as sharp as on vinyl or coroplast. However, it is lighter weight and is great for large signs. Mesh can be only be single sided. Mesh must have both hemming and webbing as well as grommets.

As a reminder, keep your eyes open and take note of signage solutions that work and don’t work from various retail locations. Snap pictures with your phone, and keep a tape measure handy so you can benefit from the experience – both the expertise and mishaps – of others. It will help ensure your signs do their job by educating and informing your customers, and it will save you time and money.

Timothy is the founder of Clarity Connect, a website design company focused on the horticulture industry and GardenCenterMarketing.com, an online marketing and signage solution that allows garden centers to easily create customized plant bench cards, hang tags and pot labels. Clarity-Connect.com.