COURTESY OF HAFNER’S GREENHOUSE

Exposure to the public can be a valuable resource for a garden center. When a new four-lane highway was completed in Park Rapids, Minn., Darin Hafner, owner of grower-retailer Hafner’s Greenhouse, saw an opportunity to get more eyes on his brand.

“As the younger generation of Hafner’s Greenhouse, you try to come up with new ways of advertising your products in ways that people can actually see,” Hafner says.

Deciding to use branded hanging baskets on the light poles along the highway and main avenues of Park Rapids, Hafner was faced with a watering problem. After all, baskets hanging over a highway still need water. The 16’’ Weekender and 23’’ Labor Saver hanging baskets from Eckert’s Greenhouse, a company that had supplied Hafner’s previously, provided the answer.

Hafner says the large-reservoir baskets from Eckert’s greatly reduce watering requirements, making them ideal for the branding effort along the main street.

“We needed something, and the idea of having two or two-and-a-half gallons of water in the reservoir … the other option was we could water every day, maybe even twice a day on the hot, windy days,” Hafner says, adding that the Eckert’s baskets were designed to be watered about every other day. “And that’s what we did.”

COURTESY OF HAFNER’S GREENHOUSE

The Labor Saver baskets have been spreading awareness of Hafner’s Greenhouse for about seven summers now, Hafner says. And the benefit of the hanging basket program doesn’t stop there. Hafner’s is compensated by the Park Rapids downtown business association for the decoration service — effectively adding a revenue stream to the business.

“We have a main street, like every small town does, and we have 55 [baskets] of the smaller variety, which are the Weekenders, that hang on Main Street,” Hafner says. “We’re a small community but we’re a big resort tourist community in the summer. It’s priceless.

“The downtown business association in Park Rapids pays us — we give them a really good rate on it, but they pay us to do it,” he adds. “It helps them, it beautifies the downtown, and we get our names on it.”

The arrangement has worked for Hafner’s Greenhouse, thanks in part to the time and water-saving qualities of the hanging baskets from Eckert’s.

“It’s kind of a no-brainer. You can either go out every other day or you can go out every day,” Hafner says.