Support Your Local, Independent Garden Centers: You Can Grow That!

Today is Independence Day and it is also the 4th of the month, which is garden bloggers' "You Can Grow That!" day where we try to inspire you to get out and garden. For this month's theme, we were asked to extend ourselves and post on the theme of "independence."

I thought I'd tackle an issue near and dear to my heart -- that of supporting local and independent businesses -- particularly your local, independent garden centers (IGCs for short).

There are many reasons to BUY LOCAL at an IGC, from creating more local jobs to reducing your environmental impact to keeping your community unique and flourishing.

I'm not going to bad mouth the big box boys and their level of plant quality, but I will share one anecdote. Last fall, I bought two flats of the same variety of pansies -- one at the "HD" and the other at a family-owned IGC. I planted them at the same time, in the same conditions. The flat from HD just sat there all winter and just  slowly petered out. The one from the IGC settled in and then boom, it took off and is still going gang-busters for me almost nine months later!

Here is another reason to support local -- they care about our gardens! Here on the East Coast of the US, we were hit with a powdery mildew on our Impatiens. Most IGCs pledged not to stock them this year, but the big box boys continue to do so and are selling consumers plants doomed to die from the start and spread this disease on to others' gardens as well! Disregard for our local garden community like this is one reason I will be taking my hard-earned dollars elsewhere.

There are some terrific summer sales going on at IGCs near you. With our unusually cool, long, wet spring in the Mid-Atlantic, the planting season is still going strong and this weekend would be a terrific time to buy some perennials, trees, or shrubs at bargain prices. Fill in any bare spots with annuals and tropicals too. Get out and support garden INDEPENDENCE!

Garden Bloggers You Can Grow That! Day was started by C. L. Fornari of Whole Life Gardening because she believes “Gardening is one of the most life-affirming things we can do.…We need to thoroughly saturate people with the belief that plants and gardening are worth doing because of the benefits gained.” Garden bloggers who agree post about something worth growing on the fourth day of every month. Read this month’s You Can Grow That! posts.


David said…
Kudos for putting this topic into the conversation. I am a wholesale distributor of high quality organic soil products. I’ve learned a lot in the process of enrolling retailers to carry my soil products.
Chain operators make their choices based on the numbers. They evaluate products based on a “spread sheet” perspective: what’s the profit potential if I carry this brand? can I get a cheaper price if I buy a large quantity? Is there heavy advertising pushing the brand? For the big operators, product effectiveness is a matter of profit effectiveness. That’s about it.
Quality independents, on the other hand, are interested in products that make a difference in the garden. They look for products they would choose for their own gardens – whether plants, or gardening tools, or organic soils. They are all ears for a conversation that focuses on customer satisfaction. Their garden center’s success is tied directly to taking good care of their customers.
I see the difference every day. There may be an exception to the rule now and then – but I suggest you save the big box shopping for lunch meat, canned goods and paper clips. Independent garden centers are a much better choice for quality plants and supplies.

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