Kate Spirgen kspirgen@gie.net
PORTRAIT BY AMBER SMITH

I stopped by my local big-box home improvement store a few weeks ago and as I drove up, the first thing I saw was a massive display of annuals. But when I made my way through the parking lot, I was shocked to see the quality of plants out in front of the store. Droopy petunias, yellowing coleus riddled with holes and rose bushes that looked more dead than alive — I wondered if those plants would ever sell.

As I was grabbing my cart, I saw someone pick up one of those sad-looking petunias and place it in their cart, remarking, “That’s a pretty good price,” to a fellow shopper.

On my way out of the store, I decided to check out the green goods in the back, just to see what the rest of the plant stock looked like. I was shocked. The stock in the back was so much healthier, greener and better-looking than the stock out front. I wondered why the store manager had decided to put its worst-looking stock front and center.

I remember thinking, ‘No garden center would ever make a mistake like that.’ I’ve never seen a garden center put their worst stock out front. Honestly, I’ve never seen plant stock that bad at any garden center I’ve visited, and I’ve been to garden centers all over the U.S.

If you’re like IGC owners I know, you take pride in your plants, your products, your service and your brand. And it really does show. It’s certainly one of the big reasons I shop at independent stores. That, and the level of education and attention I can get from an independent store. No one at Home Depot is going to help me pick the perfect perennial for my half-sun, half-shade front landscape with too much clay and a high pH in the soil. That takes some know-how, so for plant purchases, I head to a garden center.

When I was looking for ideas for my shady side yard, I knew exactly where to go. I started off at Petitti Garden Centers’ website but I could have opened one of their newsletters or their spring magazine. Or I can tune in to Angelo Petitti’s radio show and sometimes if I turn on the TV, I’ll see AJ or Angelo Petitti on the news, offering up gardening tips. The Petitti name is everywhere in Northeast Ohio when it comes to garden ideas, tips, techniques and inspiration. You can read all about their 50-year history on page 18.

The Petitti brand is known not only for a wide variety of healthy plants, but also for the level of education they provide to Northeast Ohio gardeners. By investing heavily in their marketing with quality education, innovative marketing programs and plant descriptions both on tags and in their online store tailored specifically for gardeners in the area, they’ve become a household name.

It’s a brand that was 50 years in the making and I can’t wait to see what the next 50 brings

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