Editorial: May/June 2006

May 30, 2006
Written by Anja Sonnenberg
The famous mid-16th century proverb “April showers bring forth May flowers” has always been associated with the arrival of spring, but May is also the unofficial start to the Canadian wedding season.
Is Your Garden Centre Ready for a Gift Registry?

The famous mid-16th century proverb “April showers bring forth May flowers” has always been associated with the arrival of spring, but May is also the unofficial start to the Canadian wedding season.

According to Stats Canada, the average age for first marriages is increasing each year for both brides and grooms.  In 2000, women were 31.7 years old on average, while grooms were 34.3 years old on average.  This is drastically different from the eighties, when brides were 25.9 and groom 28.5.  Since couples are saying ‘I do’ later in life, the ‘traditional’ wedding gifts are no longer ideal, as these modern brides and grooms often have fully decorated, furnished, and stocked homes and condos.  So where do couples that have everything they need decide to register for their wedding?

The concept of a bridal registry was first created by the Chicago-based department store Marshall Fields in 1924.  Since then, most large department stores have followed suit, and today, bridal registries can be found just about anywhere.  Stores like Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Ikea, and Walmart have also jumped on the bandwagon to solicit this viable market.  The big box stores offer different options to bridal registries and their popularity is undeniable.  Power tools, winter tires, light fixtures, brooms, door chimes, vacuum cleaners, toasters, pressure washers, compost bins, BBQs ... the possibilities are endless.  And don’t forget the gardening products that they can offer: shovels, rakes, patio lights, hoses, pruners, wheelbarrows, bird baths, houseplants, ceramic pots, grass seed, patio furniture, garden statuary, and plants themselves.  

One garden centre that took notice of the shifting trends in bridal registries was Sheridan Nurseries in southern Ontario. They decided to start a gift registry in the late 1990s and have never looked back.  It offers another value-added service that Sheridan can provide for their guests. Valerie Stensson, marketing manager at Sheridan, believes that the gift registry is a viable option for couples that do not wish to receive the more conventional items. Registry couples at Sheridan have also registered for many creative packages such as:
• Rose Garden - a couple selected over 150 specific rose varieties to plant their own rose garden.

• Garden Shed - specific tools and garden equipment were selected.

• Water Garden Plan - all the elements of a water garden were chosen.

• Landscape Design - the couple had a design created and they then registered for all the plants it listed.

• Outdoor Patio - the patio set, glassware, placemats and accessories were chosen to complete the entire outdoor living experience.
Stensson says that they’ve received great feedback from couples about the gift registry at Sheridan.

A bridal or gift registry may not be practical at all garden centres depending on your size, but don’t rule out the opportunity to market yourself as a shopping destination for all of life’s celebrations.  Consider offering your customers gift cards or gift certificates that can be given as an engagement, shower or wedding gift.  By offering wedding guests an opportunity to give a unique and thoughtful gift, you’ll be guaranteed a shopping visit from the happy couple.  You might even encourage the wedding guest to come back and do some shopping for their own home and garden.

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