When you are designing a garden center there are many considerations you take into account: location, product mix, store layout, advertising, the amount of parking needed, employee training, etc. And while no aspect of building a garden center is more important than another, the physical greenhouse structure is a critical component.
Mistake #1: Not including a greenhouse as part of your garden center design
Today, consumers looking for plants expect to be able to get them from a greenhouse. Even the big box stores recognise this, look at Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart, and you will see a greenhouse structure either attached to the big warehouse, or located in the middle of the parking lot. They do this because they know that shoppers associate being in the greenhouse with fresh plants, and the greenhouse environment helps keep the plants healthier. Independent Garden Centers have an advantage over the big box stores if you design your store around the greenhouse customers will recognise you as the grower, and associate your plants and employees as knowledgable horticultural experts. Of course you need to follow through and have a staff that really do know how to care for the plants.
Mistake #2: Leaving production greenhouse post spacing in the garden center
Garden center greenhouses are retail stores, not production greenhouses. We have many successful garden center customers who are also superior greenhouse growers, but a successful garden center will keep production greenhouse space separate from the retail areas. In a retail garden center post spacing needs to be as far apart as is practical. This gives the garden center manager maximum flexibility in designing store layout for traffic and for spectacular presentations. Posts can be removed by using widespan greenhouses, or by placing trusses under the gutter to carry the load a greater distance than in a typical production greenhouse, or by using both. As a garden center owner you are also less concerned about keeping uniform post spacing across the greenhouse than a commercial grower who will want to have a consistent post layout to enable more efficient production automation. By bringing your greenhouse manufacturer into the floor design process you have the best opportunity to design a footprint with your retail business in mind.
Mistake #3: Underestimating the value of a high roof
A-Frame, peak style greenhouses are very popular with garden centers because the design gives a wonderful high roof peak. But we also often hear garden center owners requesting lower under gutter heights in order to balance the height of the trusses for hanging baskets with a customer’s comfortable reach. But trusses can be lowered without effecting gutter heights, and taller greenhouses are not only better environments for your plants, they are better environments for your shoppers.
Mistake #4: Underwhelming curb appeal
For retail businesses making the outside of your building appealing is a must. It has to be inviting, aesthetically pleasing, and most important: customers need to be able to see your products from outside. To draw customers in, the best structural advice we can give you is to make sure your front wall is glass. Glass frontage provides the ability to set up window displays to attract and invite garden shoppers.
Mistake #5: Forgeting to Include Customer Flow Mapping in the Design Process
Retailers need to ensure clear customer pathways to all areas of your Garden Center in order to make sure merchandise will move. Customer Flow Mapping is a popular method merchandisers use in laying out how and where you want your shoppers to travel from place to place within your Garden Center. By including customer flow considerations in the construction planning phase, inside walls can be properly placed to be an intregal part of managing the shopping route, as can extra wide areas of the greenhouse designed to provide space for focal point garden center displays.
Mistake #6: Not Planning the whole site from the start
It is not unusual for a greenhouse construction project to be done in stages, especially when starting out. But if your initial construction plans are not going to be the final design, don’t ignor your future dreams when discussing the shape, style, and layout of current buildings. Proper planning at the beginning will save you money and ensure space is fully utulized.
Mistake #7: Too few doors
Garden centers are not like other retail stores, garden centers need to move trees in and out, and extra large shopping carts filled with live goods and garden supplies need large doors. You don’t want the entrance to your garden center to be clogged with prospective shoppers. Make sure your greenhouse design includes plenty of doors to move your customers where you want them shopping
Mistake #8: Making your aisles too narrow
Bigger shopping carts mean more products in shopping carts. Big garden center shopping carts need big garden center aisles to maneuver. If you got into horticulture through a traditional production greenhouse education then you have focused on production efficiencies, and maximizing production space, but in retail the customer experience is more important than production efficiency. Don’t sacrifice large aisles in order to make room for more benches.
Mistake #9: Building the same greenhouse garden center as everyone else
Dare to be different! If your greenhouse looks like every other greenhouse you have a tougher job differentiating your garden center from your competition. Greenhouse manufacturers can provide you with numerous options for making your garden center unique. Everything you do in retail is to make you memorable; getting the customer in the door is step one, keeping them coming back is the rest of the journey. The greenhouse structure, is a subtle part of the overall feel your shoppers will associate with your garden center. Make sure you stand out and give people something to talk about.
Mistake #10: Rushing the time
Planning takes time, and planning a successful Garden Center deserves the time to do it right. Get your greenhouse manufacturer involved early in the planning stage so you can look at options and plan your Garden Center right.