We may be Garden Center magazine editors and designers by day, but by nights and weekends, we’re independent garden center customers, too. We liked what we saw this holiday season at our local IGCs. Here’s a tiny taste of how Northeast Ohio retailers brought the Christmas spirit — and creativity and convenience — to their stores.

Graf’s Garden Shop

Graf’s Garden Shop, Landscape and Farm Market in Akron, Ohio, hosts a series of weekend and weeknight workshops to help people get creative during the holidays. The garden center offers classes for everything from crafting wreaths to centerpieces. Garden Center magazine editor Michelle Simakis attended one of the centerpiece-making events, hosted by marketing and event manager Karlie Graf, who provided instructions, building blocks for the centerpiece — soil, floral foam, waterproof foil and Styrofoam — and breakfast treats and mimosas. Plants and decorations were reasonably priced but not included in the $10 class fee. The 14 attendees not only bought materials for their centerpieces, but they picked up other items while stopping into the garden center, as well, making it a successful morning for Graf, with an average sale of about $65 per person.

MICHELLE SIMAKIS
MICHELLE SIMAKIS
MICHELLE SIMAKIS

Petitti Garden Centers

Although visiting Santa is a cherished family tradition, long lines can squash the holiday spirit, and patience, for both children and their parents. Plus, lines keep many busy parents from sticking around to shop after their photo op is over. Petitti Garden Centers makes it a little easier to see the jolly man in the red suit, as Garden Center magazine art director Stephanie Antal discovered. She took her sons to the Strongsville location, which was transformed to look like a giant Candyland game board. An interesting feature the garden center offers is their “Santa Express Text Service.” Customers can sign up to receive a text saying it’s their turn to visit with Santa. The service allows them to wander around the store and do some shopping instead of standing in line. Everyone enjoyed the experience, except maybe for Antal’s 17-month-old, Evan, but that’s out of the garden center’s — and Santa’s — control.

STEPHANIE ANTAL
STEPHANIE ANTAL
STEPHANIE ANTAL