Successful Operator- Jan/Feb 2006

March 06, 2008
Written by Anja Sonnenberg.
Two years ago, Blondie’s Gift & Gardens celebrated its grand opening, and has since grown into a successful full-service garden centre.  Located just east of Medicine Hat, in Dunmore, Alberta, Blondie’s Gifts & Gardens prides itself on offering customers an intimate shopping experience.
Two years ago, Blondie’s Gift & Gardens celebrated its grand opening, and has since grown into a successful full-service garden centre.  Located just east of Medicine Hat, in Dunmore, Alberta, Blondie’s Gifts & Gardens prides itself on offering customers an intimate shopping experience.
As owner and manager of Blondie’s Gift & Gardens, Joyce Swaren feels that Blondie’s slogan ‘Grow With Us’ describes the garden centre perfectly.

“We offer a personal touch at our garden centre,” she says.  “I can get to know my customers and when they come back, they ask for me by my name.”  Swaren believes that certain garden customers prefer small garden centres compared to the big box store competition.

A graduate from Olds College in Alberta, Swaren was the manager/grower of another garden centre in town for 13 years where she took care of the daily operations of the store.  When the owner of that garden centre retired, Swaren was motivated with a little nudge from friends and family to open her own garden centre.

“It was scary at first,” Swaren says.  “And now I get to go to work every single day and love what I do!”

Swaren took inspiration from her previous job when she set out to decide on a name for her own garden centre.  Customers used to come into the store and ask to speak to the blond woman. They didn’t know her name and they always used to describe her bright blond locks when asking staff where they could find her.

 To stay on top of the competition, Blondie’s Gift & Gardens prides itself on offering customers knowledgeable staff, quality products, and an enjoyable shopping experience.

“I advertise in the local newspaper and two local radios stations,” Swaren says.  “The radio stations play the Blondie’s jingle seven times a day, 356 days a year.  Sometimes little kids come into the store and they wander around singing the jingle.”

Today, Blondie’s Gift & Gardens employs three full-time people year round.  During the busy summer season, Swaren has to hire additional employees to keep everything running smoothly.

“Our goal is to provide our customers with superior plants, gardening supplies, and gifts, but customer service is very important at Blondie’s,” Swaren says.  “We always strive to offer the best service to our customers.”

Swaren also promotes Blondie’s Gift & Gardens by creating seasonal decorations at local restaurants and condos. 

“They approached me to add a festive touch to their space.  I now decorate several condos and restaurants, and Blondie’s name can be seen in various locations across town.

Although Blondie’s Gift & Gardens is still fairly new in town, customers have already proven their loyalty by coming back again and again.  Swaren’s five-year plan includes adding a cappuccino bar and a café, increasing her gift inventory, and expanding her store.  A second location is always a possibility, but for now Swaren is happy with what she has accomplished.

“I’d like to grow this store first,” she says. “And then maybe add a second location when the time is right.”

At a Glance:
Company Name: Blondie's Gift & Garden
Proprietor: Joyce Swaren
Location: Dunmore, Alberta
Slogan: “Grow With Us”
Website: www.blondiesgiftandgarden.com
Number of Years in Business: 2

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