Well, the spring mad rush is over here in the midwest.
As I sit in my office having a frosty cold beverage looking out the window at the sales floor with just a handful of costumers, I wonder how the season is wrapping up for independents, growers and others....
There's always next year.
As a small IGC. I am already closed for the season. I sold just about everything I grew. Vegetables were a really good seller this year. I wish I had more space to grow more. A few vegetables that went over very well were Cherokee Purple Tomato's, Inferno Banana Peppers, and Classic Eggplant. All of which, I could have grown double what I had and still sold all of them. As for flowers, The only disappointments were Wax begonias, and Angel wing Begonias. I just simply grew too many. When it comes to perennials, my sales were normal but Coral Bells "Paris" probably sold the best. I also grew Some odd Black eyed Susans that sold very well.
JuneRose Garden Center.
The season is still going strong here in Northern California. Best spring in 3 years for our Cactus and Succulents, Natives & Xeric-perennials, as well as our Organic Veggies which are still selling strong, all though we will be slowing down soon with Veggies at least until Aug-Sept when we have the fall planting rush. Interestingly the traffic and sales are up across all our customer demographics.
Our season is almost over. So far it has gone well. Not a banner year but a good one. In my area there was a tremendous amount of price cutting for some vendors to move their product. This is never a good sign. I am in Central New Jersey.
Here in S.E. Texas on the Gulf Coast the Spring push ended months back and my best sales weeks were the last week in February and first three weeks in March. Everything with color sold well as folks were replacing from the huge Texas drought last year. Unfortunately price cutting starts early here so you have to have adequate stock from the beginning. By April days are already getting warm and by May we have days in the 90's so sales drop rather quickly into the very early Summer doldrums. Our sales start to decline even before peak Spring sales further North. My best sellers this Spring were my jumbo single landscape impatiens in 6" and in gallons the Laura Bush Petunia and the Proven Winners Pink Bubblegum Petunia. The Laura Bush I start from seed and Bubblegum from PW cuttings are two of the few Petunias here that tolerate our extreme heat and extreme sunlight.
Vegetables and Herbs fell flat for us, but we've had such HUGE increases the last few years, I'm not writing them off for next year. I did see more interest in growing them in pots rather than in the ground or raised beds.
Succulents and Cactus were great again this year, especially in 4" pots. People are very interested in grouping them in low bowls or anything to add a contemporary/modern touch to outdoor living areas.
Orchids were phenomenal, especially for holidays. 6" Phalaenopsis, especially the more unusual varieties, led the category. We also did great with 4" and 5" Phals, 4" and 6" Oncidium hybrids, 6" Cattleyas, and wire baskets. Dendrobiums were the only so-so in the category.
Houseplants were strong again, too, especially 6" and 8" sizes and hanging baskets. Here, many of these plants are also treated as shade plants in the garden, so not sure if this trend translates elsewhere.
Giftware and Accessories enjoyed a great Season, too! We are starting to see greater demand for larger pieces, but smaller/colorful items that make people feel good still dominate. Windchimes had their best Sales ever. We are also doing very well with recycled plastic outdoor furniture, especially Adirondack chairs and pub height dining sets.
Pottery was OK for me, but I did see some positive changes. As with giftware, more are coming in looking for big and grand again. Cobalt blue glazed pots still dominate (matches the coping tile of most pools). And people are definitely loving more fun colored pots, especially drip combinations of color.
Chemical/Fertilizer had great increases, especially Organics. Our local NBC News did a spot on Ladybugs, and six months later, people are still coming in talking about it. Last I figured it out, we sold over 1,500,000 Ladybugs that were released in our County!
Annuals had a great Season, and Perennials and Flowering Shrubs are holding their own. Hedge plants and traditional "landscape" shrubs are still ho-hum. Palms and Trees continue to suffer, but small flowering trees for pots and around patios are good. Vines are doing well.
I'm very optimistic about the Fall (our Spring). Elections always hurt Retail, but after it's over, there will be alot of penned-up need and optimism regardless of who wins. I expect that to continue through Spring (our Fall).
I and another employee are being laid off this weekend from a retail nursery just north of Seattle. That will leave just the manager and one part-time employee to care for 10 acres of plants and help what few customers come in. Things are very tough up here in the nursery industry. Everyone, both wholesale and retail, is having clearance sales to try and move stock, but no one is buying. Hopefully one day we'll get back to at least pre-"bubble" sales, but it looks damn grim right now...
I think in the near future we are going to see "pockets" of good and bad economic areas across the United States. Some places doing just fine and others devastated by the economy. The Houston, Texas area is a real secret because we hardly ever see ourselves on the national news but things are almost booming here. The Houston Metropolitan area now excompasses over 7 million folks and the area of the city from downtown is solid housing and business for over 35 miles in every direction. Even with the slower economy 50,000 houses are targeted to be built here in 2012 and my local Tax appraisal district increased the value of my home by 40,000 this year. Over 110 thousand new folks move here every year. Unlike the disasterous era of the late 1970's when Houston was based solely on the oil industry we have the Port Of Houston now bringing in massive amounts of imports. We also have I believe the largest Medical complex in the United States and a lot of businesses from California have re-located here in the past 5 years. Diversity is the key to weathering out a poor economy and I feel sad for those in other places where things are not going as well. Especially if they have been born and raised there and do not want to move.