The Independent Garden Centre. Where Service Lives.

Garden Centre

There has been a lot of discussion in the garden trade about the challenge independent garden centers (IGCs) have had in today’s hyper-competitive retail environment.  Gone are the days when purchasing plants for your garden meant a trip to your local family owned nursery. Approximately half of the plants gardeners purchase for their gardens are bought from Homedepot, Lowes, Walmart and other national, so-called “Big Box” retailers.

The competitive marketplace, combined with other factors such as the challenges of navigating generational change in family owned businesses, and the dramatic increase in real estate prices in major metropolitan areas, has resulted in the closure of many Independent Garden Centres in recent years. The recent closing of Garden Import, a highly regarded mail-order garden business, suggests that the challenges facing IGCs are not limited to businesses with physical locations.

Not all doom and gloom

Despite these challenges, many Independent Garden Centres are finding ways to adapt, and thrive in today’s retail environment.  In some respects they have faced less upheaval compared to independent retailers in other industries, especially with respect to e-commerce, which has been relatively slow to permeate the “green” industry.  People like to shop online, but it is still hard to ship a 10 foot maple tree across the country, let alone a flat of annuals.

In terms of opportunities, societal changes like the growing appreciation for locally-sourced food, popularity of outdoor rooms and the rise of the “Staycation” have created whole new markets for plants and related products & services.

Service is a Competitive Advantage

Anyone that has spent time interacting with the “Plantsmen” and “Plantswomen” that own and operate the thousands of IGCs across North America (there are 200+ in the Province of Ontario alone) knows how much their character factors into the shopping experience.

Running a garden center is extremely hard work. Like most entrepreneurial pursuits, you really have to love what you do to be successful.  Chances are very high that the people that run your local  garden centre are extremely passionate about plants. When your job is your passion it can’t help but enhance the customer service experience.  Next time you visit your local garden center, make an effort to talk to the staff, you will be glad you did.

About Plantola

Plantola makes it easy to catalog and share your garden with friends and businesses, like your landscaper, or local garden center. Like the look of that tree down the street? Take a picture and share it with your plant guy. Captivated by the rose growing in your friend’s garden? Look it up while you are at the garden center. Plantola lets gardeners spend more time in the garden, and less time looking for plants.  For more information visit

Download the Plantola iPhone app

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