With humble origins as a small landscaping business, Begick Nursery and Garden Centers understands the meaning of service. By providing everything from house-grown nursery stock to landscape installation and a fully-loaded retail facility, the Michigan IGC has claimed a prominent position in its market and continues to innovate on its product mix. We talked with General Manager Ray Schwall about Begick’s year so far and how it’s facing the future.
Garden Center: How does Begick Nursery and Garden Center set itself apart from its competition?
Ray Schwall: I think the one real basic thing is that we’re a full-fledged garden center, and there really aren’t a lot of those around here. There are greenhouses that sell bedding plants and things like that, and then there’s the box stores that sell what they sell, but we’re an all-around garden center. We sell anything that’s got to do with your garden, your home, your yard, your patio, your outdoor living, and [products for] maintaining it. Power equipment and everything, we have it all. [Customers] can really come to rely on us for just about anything they need to take care of in their yard.
GC: How has 2018 treated you so far? Was weather a challenge at all this spring?
RS: Spring 2018 started out terrible, actually. April was very cold — just a wicked month. And that kind of put us behind the eight ball a little bit. But May [and June were] fantastic. We caught right back up, so that was nice. For one and a half days in April, we weren’t even open because the weather was so bad. We’re hot and dry right now, but we’ve been starting to get a few timely rains, so that’s definitely helped. But the month of July was very dry for us.
Plant material in general has had a good year, too. Perennials are still very good for us. Our annual business is still growing for us a little bit. We’re doing a lot of container gardening, too.
We sell anything that’s got to do with your garden, your home, your yard, your patio, your outdoor living and all of that. We sell it all, and [products for] maintaining it. Power equipment and everything, we have it all.”– RAY SCHWALL, GENERAL MANAGER, BEGICK NURSERY AND GARDEN CENTER
GC: Are there any big projects, improvements or new departments you’re looking forward to in the near future?
RS: A large greenhouse addition that hopefully will come to fruition in a couple of years. What has really transformed us a lot in the last few years and has done well is the outdoor living category and selling patio furniture. We’ve become an exclusive Weber Grill dealer, and that just did fantastic for us this year. The furniture did very well for us this year, so that’s one category that has really exploded for us.
GC: Are there any other elements of the business that have done particularly well lately?
RS: In late winter, we start seminars on Saturday mornings. We do about two seminars per day. We start at the end of February and they go through to the end of April. Towards the end is when we always have our container gardening seminar and that’s, by far, always the very best-attended, so you can see the interest. [People] want to know what’s new, what’s different in containers, what new flowers are out there. It’s just amazing how, year after year, it’s standing room only for that seminar. We’ve been doing seminars for a good ten years on Saturdays, and it was kind of interesting because the first few [events] started out a little quiet — you’ve got to build the momentum. But this year, we saw activity on every Saturday, except for the one when we had the storm. People were interested, you could see that they were hungry and wanted to get out and work in their yard.