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Taking Our Industry Back: Together

By Monte Enright, President
Armstrong Garden Centers

I can remember the day that I knew this industry was for me, as if it was yesterday. The year was 1982, it was a beautiful Saturday in April, the sun was shining, the temperature was in the mid 70’s, and the parking lot was at full capacity. I clearly remember the joy and excitement on the customers faces as the entire sales staff along with venders help tried to keep up with the crazy demand.

These were the times that independents owned our industry, yes there were the K-marts, Ole’s, and Builders Emporium to contended with, but nonetheless the industry was a healthy, vibrant one and we lead it. As the end of the 80’s approached so did the intensity of the box stores and soon we all found ourselves fighting for every piece of market share that we could get our hands on. All while the customers were swept up into this vast frenzy of new retailing, as across the country we saw mom and pops of every kind of retail going out of business. The supply side of our industry was also swallowed up by the same concept of cut quality, service, and sell it cheap, they eventually fell by the wayside as we can still see today.

Unfortunately, the customer is falling by the wayside as well. As they have been exposed to a different kind of shopping experience, not getting the service they need to feel confident in their purchase and abilities, not finding the selection to keep them interested in gardening, and not having the quality to make sure they are successful, has left the customer less and less excited about gardening and our industry.

It is time that the independents unite and bring back the professional, top quality, personal service that the consumer needs to stay engaged in our industry. If independents continue to go out of business this eventually will affect us all with the consolidation of the supply chain, and those who are left will find themselves caring the same product and quality that the box stores have. We must support the vendors that only serve independents like E.B. Stone and Monrovia Growers.

It is my hope that we unite together to take our industry back, that is why I have instructed the entire team at Armstrong Garden Centers to get involved at every level of our industry and share every bit of our research, policy, methods, marketing, and visual merchandising techniques with any independent that wants to share ideas, open communication, and take the independent garden center relationships to a new level.

I am encouraging any of you to call me personally or any of the Armstrong Garden Centers team members if you would like to know anything about what Armstrong Garden Centers is doing. Sharing information, forming a strong bond, making each other better at what we do will reunite the industry and together we can own our industry once again. Feel free to call us anytime at 626-914-1091.