Taking this knowledge into consideration, the Hole family set out to create “a spectacular retail facility to maximize the displays,” says Hole. “We also wanted to ensure that we would have people who maybe weren’t typically garden centre shoppers, come in and discover gardening.” This vision laid the groundwork for a new facility that would bring together local businesses and offer customers a whole new shopping experience.
|The Prairie Bistro is a place where shoppers can rest after a busy day of shopping and enjoy regionally inspired cuisine.
|The centre’s double-pane glass roof lets in lots of natural light.
The recent expansion paid off for the Hole family when the Enjoy Centre opened in early spring of last year. The facility is two-layered, with 242,000 square feet from top to bottom, 300 employees and eight retail partners in addition to Hole’s Greenhouses & Gardens: Amaranth Whole Foods Market, Beautiful Home & Gift Inc., Hillaby’s Tools for Cooks, Liquid Harvest, Prairie Bistro, Prairie Baker, SandyView Delicatessen Farms and The Water Garden. The Floral Studio and Events at The Enjoy Centre are also components of Hole’s at the Enjoy Centre. The overall retail space of the Enjoy Centre measures 65,000 square feet and features an airy atmosphere with plenty of natural light thanks to the greenhouse’s glass roof.
|A look inside Beautiful Home & Gift Inc., which specializes in home accents.|
|A display from the Hole’s retail floor, where products are integrated and merchandised together.
The product line offered by Hole’s at the Enjoy Centre has also changed to suit the new location. “I think the one thing that strikes me is that people don’t come in with this list of things that they absolutely have to have. It’s not a grocery list in a sense – they come in and they discover. It’s a lot of impulse sales.” Hole points to a line of children’s mitts as an example. Hole’s began displaying the mitts, which have cute faces on them, in August and they were an instant hit. “It’s incredible how popular they are. Nobody knows ahead of time that they [the mitts] are going to be there, but I think it’s that impulse thing. The mix has shifted and will continue to shift,” he says. Hole believes that products like bedding plants, perennials, trees and shrubs and indoor plants will always be essential to a garden centre, but there’s also room for other offerings like artwork, which he says is on the rise. “There’s more of a desire for the art side of things to complement. If you look at the yards, people look for, of course, the plants, but they also look for art in the backyard so it’s a blend. Even inside their homes.”
|The product mix at Hole’s has grown to suit the new clientele.|
|Amaranth Whole Foods Market, another retail partner, offers organic food products and groceries.
|The outdoor dining area of the Prairie Bistro.
|Customers can go outside to browse the centre’s large selection of trees and shrubs.
The building itself is set up to make the most of the event space they have, creating multi-purpose areas that can be used year round. The Enjoy Centre has a meeting area for corporate clients or events as well as a 1,300-square-foot room that transforms from the spring retail area to a venue that accommodates up to 600 people between July and March. In August alone, Hole says they had 47 events booked at the facility and this includes everything from weddings, to banquets to community events. These events also create great crossover business between the retail partners: the Floral Studio is on hand to create floral designs and décor and the partners that deal with food and wine can cater and provide delicious local fare.
|As escalator ramp allows shoppers to move their carts between the two levels as they browse the entire centre.
| The Prairie Baker is a source for locally made bread, sweets and savouries that are baked fresh daily.
Events are also tailored to fit the season. In the past year alone, the Enjoy Centre has featured a Valentine’s Day event for men called Beers, Burgers and Bouquets (a fundraiser for the Lois Hole Women’s Hospital in Edmonton), celebrated the opening of the facility with an event called Plugged In and marked Halloween with Eat, Drink and Be Scary, a day when kids came dressed in costume for tricks and treats. Hole anticipates that the facility’s Christmas event will be the biggest one they’ve had yet.
In terms of customer reaction, Hole says one of the biggest things people remark on is the space itself and the natural light conditions. “You can retail product in a pretty rudimentary space but the comment we get often is that people find the space very uplifting with all the light that comes in. Sometimes in the greenhouse business, you take it for granted but it’s something we’re featuring,” says Hole. “People feel that rejuvenation when they come inside and have that sunlight . . . When the days are dull and it’s cold, they come in and have the sunlight streaming through, they feel uplifted and feel like they want to spend more time shopping.”
When asked what advice he has for other retailers looking to expand and grow, Hole says the most important thing is to figure out where you want to be in the marketplace, find your focus and be willing to adapt. “The marketplace changes, people’s expectations change and if you’re not adapting, you will become a dinosaur. That’s the thing that people have to be aware of. You have to find out where your niche is, where your strengths are, where your passion lies and then you can go forward with that.”
| At a Glance:
Company Name: Hole’s at the Enjoy Centre
Location: St. Albert, Alta.
Owner: Jim and Bill Hole
Years in Operation: 32