Greenhouse Canada

Features Business Retail
Tally Up Time in the Maritimes

March 6, 2008  By Carla Allen

As another hot selling season nears the end, thoughts are beginning to
turn to orders for next year. Gift sections in garden centres and
nurseries are continuing to expand and it’s important to utilize every
inch of space for maximum return.

 Resin and cement statuary and containers remain popular with garden enthusiasts.

As another hot selling season nears the end, thoughts are beginning to turn to orders for next year. Gift sections in garden centres and nurseries are continuing to expand and it’s important to utilize every inch of space for maximum return. Now’s the time to dump the duds and stock up on the hot sellers. 

Lisa Jennings, gift shop manager for Masstown Market, in Truro, Nova Scotia, says although they still sell some collectables and knick-knacks, the clear trend is towards home decor items. 
“The cocooning phenomenon seems strong, as people gravitate towards products that enhance the living environment, both for themselves and in gift giving situations,” she says.


  Wall art has been particularly popular for this business. Sellers include both traditional and modern, framed and bare canvas, large and small sizes, oils, watercolors, and photography.  Both modestly priced and higher end items are finding homes easily.

  Table linens and home accessories like pillows in trendy bright pinks, reds, yellows, oranges, and aquas are being scooped up.  Discriminating buyers are choosing accent and larger floor lamps in rattan, rice paper and linen.

 “Jewelry is HOT. Funky large unique shell, rope, wood, and leather… mid priced sterling silver and gemstone earrings, rings, bracelets… as well as colorful, Maritime-made glass bead originals,” says Jennings. 

On the other hand, outdoor art flags and garden decor items like stepping stones have declined in popularity as less expensive knock-offs appear on mass merchandiser’s shelves. Unique, high quality stone or resin fountains continue to be popular in the garden centre, as well as a line of high-end, hand made and painted floral cedar Adirondack chairs.

What items are being cutting back on?  Small plush animals used to be very popular, but they’re starting to show up in every store in the malls, and often at cheaper prices. “That’s when we scale back and look for the next hot thing,” says Jennings.

In Fredericton, New Brunswick, Andy Buyting, manager of Green Village Home and Garden Centre also found home decor items profitable. This year they imported a container of Indonesian Home Furniture that went very well, along with some other unusual home decor lines. 

The business has the largest selection of concrete fountains, statues and decorative pots in the province and brings in pieces from as far away as Malaysia. 

Buyting says Holey Soles (similar to Crocs) were very hot, along with a line of specialty-scented candles that went very well this spring.  ‘Glow in the dark’ and some other unique lines of gazing globes and garden décor will be on the books for next year as well.

“Of course decorative ceramic pottery is growing each year for us,” says Buyting. He added that there were “no really bad lines that I can think of right off the top of my head”.

For Jackie Bezanson, the retail manager of Blomidon Nurseries, near Wolfville, Nova Scotia the disappearance of ‘twiggy stuff’ never fails to amaze her.

“We’ve carried it for at least six years and every year we sell just as much as we’ve sold the year before,” she says. The willow work includes expandable fences and other garden structures. “ It surprises me every year. No one’s tired of it yet. I made a comment a couple of weeks ago that it looked like it was in the selling house forever and ever and the next time I went in it was all gone. The time goes by so fast that you don’t realize how much time has actually elapsed,” says Bezanson.

Most of the stock sold in May, a month that left much to be desired last year. “This year May was phenomenal and June was lousy because every weekend was rainy,” says Bezanson.

A new line featuring script-written, fake marble resin words was a ringer at the cash registers.

Inspirational words like love, joy, hope, believe, imagine, dream, live, and sing can be hung anywhere and combined with an ampersand. “We’ve only had those for about two months and we sold half of them,” says Bezanson.

Surprisingly slow sellers at Blomidon include funky, retro-looking, brightly coloured glassware like tea lights and vases.

Down the road in Middleton at den Haan’s Garden World, the fanciful, fun things have been a real hit, says Darlene den Haan, director of marketing and promotion.  Colourful metal cranes were bought to add interest to the patio and garden.  Stained glass blue jays and cardinals that flapped their wings when a bead chain was pulled sold in droves for $19.95/each. 

“We also had them in a large size for $79.95. Most of our clientele is not going to spend that much but we did sell a few”, says den Haan, who added that the real reason she tried a few of the larger ones was to decorate the greenhouse.

“If they sell it’s a bonus. Sell the props,” she says

The den Haans have made good use of a downfall that happened to them several years ago. When a greenhouse collapsed behind the main selling area during White Juan, they renovated it into a garden gift area.

“It fit like a glove. Everyone thought that we had expanded, but we haven’t. We’ve just changed the use of the space that we’ve been growing in. People love it. We’ve expanded into the gift line simply because of the oil bill and just wondering how in the heck we’re going to continue to pay for it when the price of the product doesn’t go up at all,” says den Haan.

“It’s just giving us another way to increase the cash flows and meet those demands that seem to be constantly on us.”

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