Since the company first started, English Gardens in Michigan has made it a top priority to not only provide everything the customer needs to be successful in the garden, but plan the company’s future around feedback and buying habits.
Founded in 1954, English Gardens operates six retail locations and a landscaping business primarily in the Detroit area. Co-owner and President John Darin says the company has thrived for more than 60 years by staying current on what their market wants and on gardening industry trends.
“You can go back to the foundation of the company and those standards were all there,” Darin says. “The way we’ve grown the company is by listening to the customer. Listening to the customer on the products they want, what problems they had that we could find products to sell for them and listened to our customers as far as where to open our next locations. That, I think, has been our real key, we’ve always listened to the customer, trying to think like those customers.”
While other retail operations are beginning to notice the growing popularity of easy-to-grow garden edibles and move to fill the demand, English Gardens has a long history of giving gardeners the tools to fill kitchens with home-grown produce — which Darin says puts his company in a good position to welcome younger gardeners into the industry.
“We’ve been a big supplier of food plants to our customer base for 60 years,” Darin says. “We always had a big [edible] business — our original store was in a very ethnic area — lots of Polish, Italians and Hungarians, and we always sold a lot of tomatoes, a lot of peppers, a lot of vegetable plants, fruits and berries, too. I think that is one of the hottest trends going right now, the whole garden-to-table phenomenon.”
This attention to gardening trends and focus on the needs of the customer is also driving English Gardens’ effort to modernize its web presence and offer a more comprehensive array of services. By adding more products to the company’s online catalogue and expand delivery options inside and outside the local marketplace, Darin hopes his business can do more for more people.
“One of our big missions right now is becoming a multi-channel retailer and offering the customer more ways of purchasing from us: home deliveries, ordering special products from our vendors for the customer — all different multi-channel aspects the customer’s looking for today,” he says. “A lot of that is being driven by [customers’] online purchasing experiences with Amazon and other online retailers. We’re working on that, we’re working on developing our website in greater detail with more products.”
English Gardens, for many years, has offered home delivery for products from its floral department — often within the same day for households within delivery range of its retail locations. Darin says the company plans to ship a wider variety of hard goods and ornamentals to customers outside its immediate area.
“We’re not looking to try to be Amazon, we’re looking to be relevant to our customer and what their purchasing desires are today,” Darin says. “They like to be able to go online and see what you have in your store. We’re in the process of starting to catalogue a lot of our pottery and patio furniture, besides offering the Proven Winners products already online for home delivery.”