The new store design Armstrong unveiled last week incorporates the hottest colours in home décor: fern green, sky blue, and buttery-yellow walls with coffee-colour floors. A cream coloured ceiling paired with soft, diffused lighting gives the effect of natural lighting. Golden brown stained wood fixtures showcase products without being distracting. The store is open and airy – a place where Gen Xers can easily linger, getting ideas and advice from Armstrong experts.
Lifestyle displays are splashed throughout the store and outside sales areas to provide inspiration and design ideas. "Most Gen Xers haven’t grown up gardening. They value their outdoor space but need inspiration and simple solutions," according to Monte Enright, executive vice president. "Our seasonal lifestyle displays showcase outdoor living trends and become a talking point for our associates to help provide bite-size gardening knowledge to less experienced gardeners."
Many plants are grouped according to use to alleviate the feeling of an over-whelming selection. If a customer needs a shrub to place below a window they simply head to the "medium shrubs" section, designated by bold signage. Here they’ll find all the options for their specific need. "Gen Xers are looking for logical organization to guide them through what can be an intimidating shopping process – especially in the green goods section. We’re taking the fear out of gardening and shopping for garden products by grouping products by use and providing large, simple signage," stated Gary Jones, vice president of marketing.
The product mix reflects Gen Xer’s preferences. This environmentally conscience group will find an "organic solutions" section consisting of organic fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides as well as a full line of organically grown vegetables and herbs. The houseplant section explains how plants clean the air.
For the ultimate in easy gardening time-starved customers will find pre-planted container gardens. These "Always in Bloom" planters use a specially made glazed pot and pre-made seasonal garden insert that easily is popped in and out, making changing a container garden as easy as changing outfits.
The new store design concept was based on research conducted by Armstrong Garden Centers and other industry experts. Planning focused on taking the fear out of shopping for plants and garden related projects and providing plenty of inspiration and ideas. Those new to gardening can feel overwhelmed when shopping in traditional garden centers. Rows of plants arranged alphabetically do not provide the assistance Gen Xers need to make purchasing decisions in this uncharted territory. Research shows a need for more guidance in plant and product selection and a need for design inspiration.
Jennifer Nemec, of Ideation Studios, Inc., located in Chicago, was contracted to update the Armstrong store design based on recent research and Ideation’s own retail store design expertise. Ms. Nemec recently designed Oprah Winfrey’s new retail store in Chicago that opened this past spring as well as other independent garden centers including Petitti Garden Centers and Pasquesi Home and Garden. This new garden center design is just one way Armstrong Garden Centers is enticing its next generation of garden consumers. Armstrong recently launched a new website with easy-to-do gardening tips and inspirational photos with seasonal style advice. To attract Gen X consumers, Armstrong uses a comprehensive email marketing program as well as search-term marketing.