Michelle Simakis

Weather may be a safe, small talk topic that can help you break the ice at networking events or breeze through an awkward, long elevator ride, but for our industry, it’s a serious business conversation.

Last year, weather was top of mind for retailers, suppliers and consumers, as snow fell and temperatures stayed low until the end of April, making it an unusually long, cold month for many areas of the U.S. Weather was a primary concern for retailers who completed our 2018 State of the Industry Survey, second only to staffing and far outpacing economic worries, as the season was compressed for many.

We’ve all heard the adage — there’s nothing you can do about the weather. Although you can’t command clear, sunny skies and 75 degrees Fahrenheit on Mother’s Day, there are proactive strategies garden centers can take to make the most of a rainy weekend (or four) during peak season. Basic knowledge about climate trends can go a long way, too.

As you’ll read in this month’s cover story on page 14, weather only repeats about 15 percent of the time year-to-year, so chances are, this April will be better. (Fingers crossed).

You can also ease your customers’ climate concerns by teaching them about eco-friendly gardening practices, empowering them to do their part to help the environment. Read Leslie Halleck’s column on page 22 for her five tips.

Whether the weather is frightful or delightful, we all spend much more time indoors than in years past, which could be one reason why we’ve seen a surge in the popularity of houseplants in offices, hospitals and homes. Read about the latest tropical plant trends from growers, retailers and other experts and their 2019 predictions on page 64.

Weather came up in conversations at the Garden Center Executive Summit in Denver this past February, too, as our gorgeous view of the Rocky Mountains was obscured by stubborn clouds for days one and two of the educational conference. The sun finally came out day 3, but the weather didn’t spoil the event — attendees were indoors, learning from the thoughtful, insightful and compelling lineup of speakers, many who are your peers and leaders in the industry. Read takeaways from the inaugural event starting on page 32, and look for announcements about the 2020 Garden Center Executive Summit soon.

Michelle Simakis