Interest in garden artifact/plant/wildlife retail destination

mrscardinalMay 20, 2006

I have long been interested in a retail destination that would encompass many ideas regarding gardening and garden artifacts. My idea centers on a unique boutique shop where the public can browse unique & antique artifacts, local craftsmen items, and combine that with plant offerings, pots, bird & bee houses,water gardens, etc. The store would "hopefully" have some property that could be designed to have beautiful gardens that incorporate all the items from the store in the beds. I picture the location to be rustic but simple & modern with lots of focus on wildlife gardening/organic. I have tried to find information on the internet about this type of retail. It's hard to brand it and therefore search for it.

Would anyone out there know about this particular type of store and post or write to me at sybilvox@yahoo.com. I am just turning it around in my head at this point, It's a dream, and a person's got to dream, right? Thanks, syb

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doghousemom(5 IL)

Syb

Have you been to the OFA Short Course in Columbus Ohio? It's the premier conference/trade show for the hortucultural industry, coming up in July. Go to www.ofa.org for more information on classes you can attend (including classes in retail management), and plan on attending the trade show as well. There are tons of vendors there wholesaling the items you are talking about, and while I can't think of one offhand, there might be a vendor or two doing what you are thinking about.

If you can't get to this one, another great one is the Far West Show in Portland OR in August.

These are the two largest "all encompasing" shows in the US. There are several other smaller shows as well. Check the web.

Regards
Sue

    Bookmark   May 21, 2006 at 8:02PM
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mdaughn(zone 7)

There is a garden/garden center in Frederick Maryland that sounds like what you are aspiring to. It is called Surreybrooke Gardens. It does have a greenhouse and sells lots of plants but many of them and all of the garden 'art' is placed throughout landscape settings and gardens. It is an interesting combination of garden/retail site.

Here is a link that might be useful: Surreybrooke Gardens

    Bookmark   May 22, 2006 at 12:32PM
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habitat_gardener(z9 CA/Sunset15)

Syb, The last time I was in Santa Barbara, I visited a garden shop that sounded much like what you described: "unique & antique artifacts, local craftsmen items, and combine that with plant offerings, pots, bird & bee houses, water gardens." Nice unusual specimen plants in unique pots outdoors, and lots of handmade and salvaged big garden furniture, fountains, and ornaments inside. It did not have a wildlife/organic focus or a big demo garden, though, or if it did I missed it. It's called Eye of Day, located next to a hotel in Carpinteria. I think the best part of it was the one-of-a-kind benches and other furniture created from interesting blocks of wood and stone -- very sculptural. But to have a store like that, you need enough customers that can afford it, so SB was a good location. Or you can host lots of workshops and get a lot of traffic and some income that way -- a reason for people to go out of their way to visit you, if you are out of the way, and as long as they are there they will browse and maybe buy.

Search terms that may help find more of these are "garden boutique" and "garden gallery." Here in the SF bay area, I don't know of anything similar, but we do have quite a few artists who incorporate their artwork into gardens, for example --
* http://www.conversations.org/cevan.htm
* Marcia Donohue in Berkeley
* a garden sculpture gallery
* an artifact/recycle warehouse focusing on garden art
-- and also some nurseries that have wonderful display gardens and events --
* Annie's Annuals
-- and there is a store called Wild Bird that focuses on attracting birds.
-- and at least one of the local landscape designers who focuses on native plants also puts artwork into the gardens that features native-plant themes (urns decorated with mosaics picturing wildflowers, benches made from massive manzanita trunks, fountains in the shape of acorns, etc): Middlebrook Gardens.
-- and some independent nurseries feature sculpture and hand-crafted items.

So maybe it would be useful for you to go through the process of writing a business plan, or at least the part that defines the competition and what you would offer that is unique or compelling.

(My fantasy business would feature a bookstore of used and new garden books, a compost demonstration area, a huge demonstration garden featuring natives, edibles, and herbs, and regular workshops in organic gardening, vegan cooking, botanical medicine, ecological design, and individual plants [would anyone else be interested in an hour seminar on kale?].)

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 4:16AM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

I wonder what their biggest sellers are? What are they doing to bring in the volume of sales they need to survive? Usually, there is something that provides the main income - such as landscape installations, floral arrangemenet and delivery, or other "meat and potatoes" service - to support the slower-selling end of the business. Or, are they selling hundreds of annual bedding plants and other typical garden center fare to support the folksier side of the operation?

How many bird houses, craft work and antique potting benches would you have to have in your inventory, and how fast and at how much would you be able to sell them to make enough money? Are there enough affluent shoppers in your area to lure in to buy these things?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 11:09AM
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