Kate Spirgen

As new gardeners made their foray into the backyard dirt or filled their homes with new plants in 2020, IGCs have been faced with the challenge of converting first-time gardeners into lifelong customers. While welcoming new gardeners and helping them succeed has been a topic of conversation for a while, the issue has really come to the forefront since COVID hit North America.

In this month’s issue, we take a look at what one independent garden center is doing to inspire and encourage a love of plants in Omaha, Nebraska. At Mulhall’s Garden + Home, the team is taking a holistic approach to connecting customers and employees with nature.

By undertaking an extensive renovation to create inspirational spaces both in the store and in the landscape, the company is investing in a myriad of ways to keep customers and employees engaged with and connected to nature.

But it’s not just the space, reaching out to them and making an effort to meet them where they are. The world of horticulture can be intimidating to new gardeners, or new garden center employees, but Mulhall’s is working to meet people where they are and provide them with the knowledge they need to succeed, both in the garden center and at home.

As Mick Mulhall said to me last year, it’s easy for knowledgeable groups like plant people to build up a sense of belonging or permission, and it takes a lot of work to break down those barriers. But that’s exactly what the IGC is striving to achieve. You can read more about their mission on page 20.

Building on the momentum of 2020 is a monumental task, and as we kick off 2021, welcoming new gardeners is top-of-mind for many. We’d love to hear what your operation is doing to include a new kind of customer.

Kate Spirgen