Monday, July 21, 2008

New Course Post-Short Course

Most OFA Short Course attendees packed their bags and headed home last Tuesday following the trade show, but a group of about 25 growers, retailers and vendors trekked up Interstate 71 to Cleveland for a little more knowledge. They were treated to a two-day tour of five local garden centers, one greenhouse and the Meister Media Worldwide office in Willoughby, Ohio.

The tour began Wednesday morning at Eagle Creek Wholesale in Mantua, and wound its way toward a seven-mile stretch on a single road southeast of Cleveland. Somehow, that single stretch of road includes three quality garden centers – Eagle Creek Garden Center in Bainbridge and two Chagrin Falls garden centers, Breezewood Gardens & Gifts and Lowe’s.

The ongoing and upcoming design programs at Eagle Creek, the gift selection at Breezewood and the growing facilities at Lowe’s were certainly impressive. Eagle Creek has had success with its landscape design service, and because the area keeps growing with wealthier clientele, co-owner Todd Cain says the business would even like to move into some interior design by Christmas. Eagle Creek could set up a family’s Christmas display – tree and all, Todd says – take it down for the New Year and store them in Eagle Creek’s ample warehouse space until next Christmas.

At Breezewood, women’s – and even men’s clothes – are increasingly becoming hot sellers. Breezewood also does a great job creating multiple themes within the gift shop, and it has a couple of shelves with books and other items devoted solely to kids.

Further down the road in Chesterland was yet another garden center, Bremec Greenhouse & Nursery. One of its most impressive facilities is The Fountain Studio, a 4,700 square-foot facility under roof that houses statuary, fountains and pottery. The Fountain Studio, with its cool breezes and the trickling sound of fountain water echoing off high walls, is a welcome respite on one of Cleveland’s humid days. Customers searching for items there won’t want to leave.

Day One of the tour concluded in Avon with dinner at Pettiti Garden Center, and Licursi Garden Center in Kirtland anchored the garden center portion of the tour the next morning.

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