Thursday, August 26, 2010

IGC Show 2010 “Best of Products”: Jolly Gardener Premium Soils

To continue our “Best of Products” from the IGC Show, we are not straying far from the topic of our last post. It was evident at the show that marketing and packaging are taking more of a front seat for garden retailers; therefore, it has become a high priority for manufacturers to re-think many options about a product’s look, container and package description. Jolly Gardener, a division of Oldcastle Lawn & Garden, has met this challenge head-on. For 2010, the company introduced the line of premium soils that would not only visually draw customers to the products, but also help them clearly understand the solutions the products provide.

According to Kevin McDonald, vice president of sales and marketing, the company conducted consumer focus groups and found that consumers are still confused when shopping the potting soil category. With this in mind, they designed the new packaging to be easy-to-understand and with high-level shelf appeal. These products all ranked high marks in our “Best of Products” series, and here’s why…

Jolly Gardener Premium Potting Mix is regionally-formulated with high quality ingredients to be the ideal base mix for indoor and outdoor containers, window boxes, and planters. The mix includes a controlled-release fertilizer that feeds plants up to four months, encouraging plant growth and continuous, beautiful flowers all season long.

Jolly Gardener Premium Moisture Mate Potting Mix contains the same quality elements as the Premium Potting Mix. It also boasts polymer crystals to help prevent over- and under-watering of plants, which is one of the biggest concerns among consumers. In addition, the mix includes plant food that feeds plants up to four months.

Jolly Gardener Premium Garden Soil is specially blended to promote strong root growth for robust fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. This mix includes plant food that feeds up to four months, encouraging growth of nutritious, edible plants and healthy, plentiful flowers.

These three mixes are but a taste of Jolly Gardener’s amazing products. We’ll keep this post live for some time, so it will be available for when “packaging” starts to show up on 2011 EdCals.

~ Sarah Kate

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

IGC Show 2010 “Best of Products”: Fafard’s New Packaging

Just this past week, garden center retailers and industry product and service companies from many related professions flooded Chicago, IL for the 2010 Independent Garden Center Show, commonly called IGC. One company represented was Conrad Fafard, Inc., the third largest manufacturer of packaged growing media for professional ornamental growers and retail outlets in North America. Fafard, a Syngenta subsidiary, unveiled a unique brand "look and feel" at the show. Featured were transformed retail-ready packaged products. “The new bags are dramatic, distinctive and definitely differentiate us from our competitors,” said Chris Sexton, Retail Market Manager.

The fresh, new packaging illustrates Fafard’s brand position, represented by the slogan “The Science Behind the Art”, which draws on a combination of a strong science background and consistent reputation for high-quality mixes. Pictured left to right are the redesigned products: Complete Planting Mix, Organic Potting Mix, Complete Container Mix, Professional Potting Mix, and Complete Potting Mix. One of our clients, an IGC owner for more than 25 years, took one look at this photo and said his customers would be drawn to the consistent color palette and large, bold product names.

According to Sexton, the new brand positioning and renewed retail strategy inspired the renaissance of Fafard premium retail soils, which are sold exclusively in IGCs. In addition to the mixes pictured, Fafard will be releasing specialty plant mixes with a similar new brand style – Seed Started Potting Mix, African Violet Potting Mix, Cactus & Succulent Potting Mix, Orchid Potting Mix, Fafard Horticultural Perlite, Premium Top Soil, and Premium Compost. These beneficial mixes with new, simpler looks are intended to stand out in garden centers so consumers can more easily understand their applications. The new branded appearance – and the fact Fafard is working diligently to make garden product choices easier and better for consumers – left our team fully agreed to include the new packaging in our “Best of Products” series from IGC.

Fafard is a division company of Syngenta, one of the world’s leading companies dedicated to bringing plant life to full potential.

Members of the trade media, keep Fafard’s new packaging in mind for your next stories on the topic. We know we will for our next applicable byline article that touches on the benefits of consumers using the same quality mixes used by professional growers.

~ Don

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Commonality Among Books

Joanne Klappauf, founder of Common Ground Distributors, intimately knows the ins and outs of buying books. Speak to her, and you quickly discover she is a bibliophile through and through, and that this passion has fueled her success of providing books to retailers across the nation. “Having worked in retail bookselling in the past, I especially understand what a buyer goes through day-to-day when ordering books. Knowing the challenges of your customers is the heart of any service business,” Klappauf explains. She believes it is important to know customer expectations and needs even before one places an order. This kind of synergistic relationship cements a strong foundation for selling the right books to the right retailers.

Common Ground has been distributing books for almost 25 years from its warehouse based in Asheville, NC. The book categories the company offers are diverse, spanning a wide range of specialized interest subject-matter and a long list of publishers. Thus, the company’s name is a tell-tale of its overture. Klappauf says green titles are an emerging category of books with broad interest sought by retailers and end-consumers. Other categories include interior design, garden design, cooking, nature, children’s picture books, and gift books such as those of inspiration, humor and animals. But, in all these categories, criteria for the chosen books are simple and twofold: quality and salability, meaning, “The overall book package has to be as wonderful as the content.”

For retailers ordering books, Klappauf suggests considering the specifications such as the colors, sizes and shapes. Prior to ordering, it is helpful to visualize how the books will look in the space in which they are to be sold. Then, when the order is received by the retailer, she recommends displaying the books upright and facing outward with their covers clearly showcased for consumers to view. Other ideas for retail display include grouping like books together and cross-merchandising various books with related products. ”It’s simple and powerful; retailers can increase book sales by creating unique environments,” according to Klappauf.

Her advice rings true in Common Ground’s other location, a permanent showroom at AmericasMart Atlanta. The environment is soothing, and the books are stimulating. Klappauf had glass walls with broad, wood columns put in surrounding the space to encapsulate the area and help reduce noise. Her concept was to create a cozy sitting area for buyers to examine prospective purchases.

Hundreds of covers jump off the shelves like a colorful Dr. Suess tale in the children’s section, a new gardening title featuring magical-looking plants, a beloved Paula Deen gracing a southern recipe book hot off the presses, and a large design book boasting famous Hollywood interiors. The sections are organized in a maneuverable manner so buyers might round the shelf of books about breath-taking homes to discover a neighboring shelf lined with books about cabins, barns, tree houses, and western lifestyle.

Once retailers or designers do choose books, orders can be placed in the showroom, online through Common Ground’s website, or by phone. It could be an order for one book or 50. With no minimums or limits, Klappauf ensures the process is a solid means to match customers with the most applicable selections. Klappauf calls it hand-selling, the ability to know the books as much as possible to suggest personal favorites or trendy titles to customers. It is something on which Common Ground prides itself. “It’s one of the many fun parts of bookselling,” she says with a smile.

With books evolving in the current marketplace from e-books read on handheld devises to the surging importance of photos versus words, Klappauf believes there is still a place on the shelf for printed books. No doubt, beautifully bound books filled with engaging visuals and page-turning adventures can help retailers build desirable inventories that entice customers in ways unlike any other product.

~ ECPR Team

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

OFA "Best of": New Container Delights

Here, we offer two “Best ofs…” in one post. Some plants are made for the shade; others work perfectly in mass plantings; but, these two of our favorite plants from OFA Short Course 2010 look stunning in containers and are too stylish to go unnoticed. And, as professionals in the garden industry are always searching for novel container plants, both of these beauties would showcase well in any garden retail store and on any magazine’s pages.

The Alcea Spring Celebrities varieties from American Takii boast large, semi-double to double flowers with long bloom times. Bred by Sahin, this series offers new colors – Crimson, Lilac and Pink – as well as favorites like Carmine-Rose, Lemon, Purple, White, and Formula Mixture. Hardy for Zones 6-9, these Hollyhocks like living in full sun and are quite drought tolerant. They attract butterflies and other beneficial insects. These plants are sure to grab the attention of consumers. What else would we expect from Takii? The company continues to develop some of the most garden-worthy varieties in the world. For grower cultural information, see the company’s website.By the way, our congratulations to Takii for its recent 175th anniversary. Our warmest and best wishes to Takii for another 175 years and more!

For more information, visit Takii's website.

Known for their “magical” breeding abilities, the folks at Terra Nova Nurseries have created the world’s first trailing Heucherella. Two plants in the new Falls series, ‘Redstone Falls’ and ‘Yellowstone Falls’, debuted at OFA as exciting new options for garden centers and nurseries to consider for their busy spring 2011 seasons. With classic Heuchera-style, lobed leaves made more delicate through a mix of Tiarella, these leafy plants are sure to make a statement when planted in a tall or uplifted container.

For culture details and other insights, check out the website. Keep up the incredible breeding work, Terra Nova. You never cease to amaze us and the grower industry.

For more info, visit Terra Nova Nurseries' website.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Original Adjustable Door Hinge

Part of Our “Best of NHS Products & Innovations” Series…

The National Hardware Show in May was home to thousands of companies showcasing new or innovative products, and one such product caught our eye. It is called The Original Adjustable Door Hinge, and it’s distributed through EGS Hinge LLC. Created to solve the problem of doors that stick when being opened or closed, The Original Adjustable Door Hinge has the ability to adjust a left- or right-handed door up or down and side to side. This truly is a simpler solution than unhinging, sanding, planning, re-painting, and re-hanging a problematic door, which is something all of the contractors out there have been seeking all along.

Doors can stick in the frame or against the floor for a number of reasons: a house is settling, expansive soil conditions, foundation concerns, humidity, poor craftsmanship, new floor installation, a remodel, or even too many layers of paint. Affordable and practical, The Original Adjustable Door Hinge is worth its salt as it can be adjusted anytime to rectify any of these problems. The difference between this product and a typical door hinge lies in The Original Adjustable Door Hinge’s threaded bolt - instead of a smooth pin - allowing the door to be adjusted by the hinge. And, this product is crafted out of high-quality steel or stainless steel and is available in five interior finishes and four exterior finishes.

We think this product is a perfect fit, in more ways than one, for home improvement and trade-based magazines’ “Best Products” sections for 2010 and 2011. For more information about The Original Adjustable Door Hinge, feel free to leave a comment below or visit the company’s website.

~ Jeff