If you are serious about your beloved garden then you will be serious about your local garden supply center. You want to be sure that your garden center supplies quality plants and garden tools. You get to know after time what they stock and when the seasonal items will be coming in. Some very customer focused garden centres will even survey customers to find out what varieties of plants they want.
Another area of marketing is the loyalty card schemes and related gardening clubs. These are the sort of methods that are not offered by the larger chains of garden supply centers. (With the exception of loyalty cards perhaps)
One of the advantages enjoyed by the large garden supply center companies is the pricing they can offer their customers. Due to the large quantities they purchase for resell they can usually get a better deal than the smaller independent operators. However, the one thing that many smaller garden supply centers have that many of the big chains lack is service and knowledge of the products they sell. Of course the economies of scale are also a disadvantage because you will have the same plants as everyone else. If you like growing a more eclectic range of flowers and vegetables you will only get these from the smaller garden suppliers.
For the home gardener who knows exactly what they want and how to use it, the larger corporate garden supply center is going to have a larger selection from which to choose while saving a little but of money. However, seeking advice from the same chain’s employees can be hit or miss as to whether they understand home gardening or just there for a summer job.
Local Garden Centers Have the Advantage
While there are pros and cons to both the small independent garden supply center and the large chain-owned outlets the needs and preference of the customer are often different, resulting in some customers sharing their business between the two. There is also a perception that the independent garden supply center must be priced higher than their corporate competition and in some cases that may be true, but customers are often surprised by the savings they can find at the small outlets.
Where the independent local garden supply center will score is in the choice of plants. They will be localized to your area and will grow well for you. The large chains will have the same inventory for a wide geographical area. But not all the plants that grow in the south of the country will work in the north because of different daylight sun hours and rainfall. The other reason why the plants will be more suitable for you is that they will work in your soil.
The expertise of the garden centre staff will know the general conditions of the soils in your area and they will make sure they sell what grows best for you.
So while the large multiple garden centers do have a place for the serious gardener you need to lose your local garden supply center.