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Designing a Garden Centre from scratch

I have a pipe dream of one day opening a garden centre - combining the best bits of all the ones I like, plus a few things I don't think anyone does.

what are the things that make you go back to a garden centre and what would stop you going to  a particular one again?

also, I'm interested in what 'newbie' gardeners  want as opposed to experienced gardeners.

i'd love to hear everyone's thoughts and preferences!



  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Derbyshire but with a Nottinghamshire postcode. Posts: 16,470

    I want plants, tools, seeds,pots,  fertiliser, other chemicals as required.

     I want someone there to know that you don't display all the ferns in full sun so they go all frazzled. Also someone with some gardening knowledge. No calcified seaweed is not the same as seaweed meal.

    I don't want scented candles, helium balloons, jewellery, other niknaks , daft mugs that say"worlds best teacher" cards, overpriced confectionery.

  • addictaddict Posts: 659

    I'm with fidget. A garden centre should sell stuff for the garden. Maybe other stuff at chrismas but thats it. I managed a nursery for 10 years. What customers really seemed to value was that you knew about the plants and could actually help them with choosing.

    Try and offer unusual stuff. So many times garden centres are much of a muchness. Keep the place clean, weed free, plant examples of plants you sell. Let them see size form etc. Offer bargains. If a plant looks past its best reduce it drastically. customers love a bargain. Seems in this area...Hampshire...a dire shortage of alpines find out in your area what people cannot get hold of elsewhere and stock it.

    And avoid dutch plants like the plague. Die more often than not, have little or no info on labels and customers want a refund!  

    Would love to open one too but can't see it happening image

  • We have a couple of GCs round here, but at least 4 "nurseries."  3 definitely grow a lot of their plants, the others I think grow-on some.  None is specialised & sell a good variety of things, but at least if something's grown there then I know it's suitable for my conditions. So if you're growing your own plants then it's a good selling point for the local market, as people will know that they're suitable.

    Knowledgeable & friendly staff would certainly make me come back - I'd rather pay a little bit more & be treated in a friendly manner than go to somewhere cheap & just be regarded as another "punter."  Also if a proprietor treats their customers well, then they probably look after their plants too!

    I'm 100% with fidget re what to sell or not!

    One local nursery has started grouping their plants into their suitability, eg windy, seaside, boggy, etc.  I suppose it's good for people who don't have much gardening knowledge, or time to read labels, but I prefer things in alphabetical order - having done some research first.  I found it most confusing.image

  • Rodgy-dodgeRodgy-dodge Posts: 115

    Cheap plants and sundries! plain and simple. We have a few garden centers near us, they tend to put in coffee houses which is a nice idea if there is a huge area to get round and you'd like to take a break at some point. They tend to be a bit on the expensive side. The most successful little garden shop is a family run business who have a great selection of reasonably priced plants, and sundries they also have a fruit and veg area where you can buy their own grown produce. If your looking for something specific they'll source it for you and they are really knowledgable about what they sell.

  • Thank you all of you, these are great points. What about free home delivery if you spend over £50 - so heavy pots/compost/trees don't have to get squeezed into your car?


  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,132

    Absolutely Jonty- lots of people don't have the means of getting stuff home or don't have a team of people to help get it in and out their car. Delivery anyway would be a must I'd say. The bigger GCs tend to be more about other 'stuff' and plant knowledge is in short supply compared to nurseries. Addict is right too- they all have the same plants so everyone's gardens tend to end up the same. A dedicated area with a few more unusual varieties or a service where customers could order different varities could be a winner. Jeannie is right too -nurseries selling home grown plants means you get plants that suit your conditions.

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • patty3patty3 Posts: 129

     I was amazed recently to see a very small GC near me having plants delivered!

    They have tea shop and nick- nacks to keep us going all year round.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,869

    Many years ago I used to supply unusual plants grown from seed to a small local nursery. I wonder if you could get a team of growers to do that. There are so many more interesting plants out there than you ever see in a GC.

  • decent coffee! image

  • SalinoSalino Posts: 1,609 a nice big cafe/restaurant... I always find more people in there than looking at plants.... I think it's where they make their money...

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