When you think garden center, do you think Home Depot?

Gone are the days when a trip to the garden center meant a trip to a locally owned, and often family operated business.  Don’t get me wrong, independent garden centers still exist, but they are no longer the only place to buy plants, soil and other landscaping materials. According to the 2012 National Gardening Survey published by the National Gardening Association, large national chains (think Home Depot, Lowes and Walmart) now account for a 51% share of the retail dollars spent on lawn & garden related purchases in the United States. Independent garden centers account for just 17% of retail dollars spent.  The lawn & garden market is large enough ($29.1 billion at last count) to support many different business models.  That being said, the increasing share of the market held by large, national chains and big box retailers is not without consequence, particularly in the area of consumer choice.

Fewer plants to choose from

Large national retailers use their purchasing power to drive down prices.  Generally speaking, the more plants they purchase from a single grower, the lower price per plant they can obtain.  Add to this the fact that a relatively small group of people is making purchasing decisions for hundreds, sometimes thousands of retail locations, and you can see how national retailers are having a negative effect on the diversity of plant material available to gardeners.  You can still find that unique cut leaf Japanese maple cultivar if you really look, but you will probably have to drive a bit further than the local retail power center.

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