In the last year we have seen many well known nurseries struggle or close. Monrovia, Hines, Carolina... the list goes on. Small business is hurting everwhere with banking relationships, increases in taxes and government controls and competition for limited consumer dollars from mass merchants. Garden Centers have added to this the fact that success in our industry is extremely dependent on good weather. This all adds up to tough sledding in the IGC industry. Our company, Hort Couture, is here to help the independent channel be more successful. Here are a few of the things I want to point out:
1. We will NEVER be in the box stores. We are a brand developed by an IGC for the IGC. This never does mean never. Not in five years or fifty years with this commitment change. IGC's are pesimistic when they hear this after experiences with Proven Winner, Henri Studio, Hines, Monrovia, Christopher Radko and other brands that have jumped ship to the mass merchants. We are different.
2. We are dedicated to preserving the dynamic that the best new plants are at the IGC. Many great new plants now begin their careers in the boxes. Whether you are selling televisions or petunias, as a retailer you must have the latest new products to be appreciated and supported by your customers. We need the support of the industry to band together to give the breeders the promise of financial return (royalties) from the IGC that is competitive with the return from the boxes. Together we can keep the good stuff at the Indy where it belongs. Breeders want to help, they just need to make a living too.
3. We are creating new business channels and supply chain ideas to help the independent. We have made branding easier for the small grower or retailer and have a new innovative way to delivery product from Florida to the IGC. We are looking at the future of the IGC and how we can be a better partner to them.
4. We have a value added brand. We want the Hort Couture brand to give the IGC a destination brand with a luxury feel that will lead to better margins for growers and retailers at all levels of the supply chain. We can not survive as an industry with the attitude that cheaper is how to compete.
5. We are actively looking for ways to attract new gardeners to the IGC. Hort Couture is on the forefront of digital media and how it can be used to educate and attract new customers to the IGC. Cultivating new customers is an important aspect of iGC success in the future.
I hope if you are a small business in our industry that you will take a closer look at what we are doing. The consumer dreads the trip to the box and looks forward to the trip to the independent. We hope that you will consider our brand a unique and profitable way to make your store different than the big box.