Kate Spirgen

Our cover story this month looks quite a bit different now than what we had planned at the beginning of the year. Before the pandemic changed everything, Rockledge Garden was going to share different ways to stay relevant in the coming years. Instead, like garden centers everywhere, the IGC is finding all kinds of innovative ways to keep their garden center, their employees and their customers connected in the midst of the pandemic. Staying relevant has taken on a whole new meaning, and it’s more crucial than ever to find ways to continue being a part of your customers’ lives — now and in the years to come after COVID is gone.

Some events at Rockledge, like their live virtual classes, keep customers engaged online. Other in-person events, like their month-long Fall Festival, leverage the wide-open spaces of the IGC to let customers to explore and shop safely. And when hosting events like birthday parties, weddings and holiday functions, the garden center is staying part of the family experience.

The garden center is a great example of how to change with the times, keep up with the market and be so much more than a plant shop. It’s a family gathering place, a virtual classroom, a photo shoot location and more. In short, they’re using employee experience to create customer experiences.

It’s also a great way to differentiate from the big-box stores. You don’t see many people going to Home Depot or Lowe’s to celebrate Mother’s Day or stage a photo shoot. And while your customers may be able to find some of the plants they’re looking for online or in a different store, they’re not likely to find a virtual garden club meeting or answers to their questions about caring for a new orchid.

You can read all about what Rockledge Gardens is doing to stay connected during the pandemic on page 18. And with the holidays fast approaching, we’d love to hear what you’re doing at your garden center this year. Send us some photos or drop us a line to let us know how your IGC is bringing cheer to your customers.