Saturday, July 11, 2009

Berns Garden Center - Middletown

I haven’t been to Berns since I did a cover story on them in 2006, so it was great to get back and see the place. It’s still beautiful - spotless, well laid-out and well-stocked, despite being July. I saw a few great ideas at the store that I’ll highlight here.

A few things worth mentioning that Berns has done for a while, though, include covered walkways that lend themselves to all-weather shopping and a great, meandering path in the front of the annuals section to showcase mixed containers. The containers were few and far between (no doubt because it is July), but when fully stocked it is a sight to behold.

I really liked the shade sails (pictured) used inside the greenhouse over the tools and grass seed sections to prevent fading on the POP and packaging.

I also liked the seed “workstation” set up in the retail store that allowed customers to measure out their own veggie seeds. The station also included everything needed for a customer to start their own veggie plants.

I got a chance to talk with Mike Berns a bit, who said like all retailers business has been difficult during the recession. But a bright spot for the garden center has been the Personal Gardener program, which entails an expert staff member going out to a customer’s home (for a fee) and working through trouble spots, giving advice, etc.

So even though customers don’t want someone to plant it for them anymore, they were still willing to pay for the hands-on “mentor” style approach.

Find Berns online at

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