Kate Spirgen

What once looked like it could be a gloomy spring has really turned around for IGCs across the U.S. and Canada. While Easter sales for many suffered, Mother’s Day sales saw a comeback and many garden centers are reporting great numbers so far this summer.

As closures continued and caution kept many would-be-shoppers at home, garden centers saw many new customers who were looking for an activity to keep them busy at home. Those looking to beautify their backyards, front yards and porches turned to IGCs for supplies and advice in big numbers.

Bringing in new customers during these strange times is a huge win, but how do you plan to keep those customers when businesses reopen, summer activities resume and life goes back to being a bit busier? What are you going to do to keep those customers coming back, even when life (hopefully at some point) returns to normal? How are you going to turn those first-time customers into lifelong gardeners?

I’m sure there are many answers for many types of customers. For some, it might be education. For others, it might be communication and service. And for many, especially those in the younger generations, it’s going to be convenience. Whether providing easy ways to buy supplies for DIY projects or a more full-service Do It For Me approach, customers want to be able to get in, get out and get back to their to-do list as quickly as possible.

But for those customers coming to your store for the first time, convenience of education is an important component in turning them into lifelong customers. If new gardeners can find the answers to their questions quickly and easily at your store or on your website, it takes the fear out of gardening and gets them on their way and in their garden even faster.

When life begins to go back to normal, there will be more and more demands on your customers’ time. It’s uncertain when exactly that will happen, but when it does, how will your IGC retain the customers that found their way to your store during the pandemic?