A blog series on Shopper Marketing.

By Cyndi Pyburn

Like many Canadians, Victoria Day weekend, at least in the southern Ontario market, is the weekend to stock-up on all your gardening needs from soil and mulch to flowers and shrubs.  So I made my way to Sheridan Nurseries to begin my inspirational search for this year’s garden.  As a novice gardener, I do feel a little overwhelmed by the great selection.  I spent a good deal of time at the nursery studying and reading about the specifications for growing the plants I was considering.  And I wasn’t alone.  What could have been a very frustrating experience given the throngs of would be horticulturists, actually turned out to be a very enjoyable one.

Sheridan had anticipated the crowds of gardeners and the level of staff available to assist you was terrific.  They hire university students which I found very courteous and helpful.  In chatting with a few, I can see that Sheridan looks for ‘vested’ students ….budding landscape architects, environmentalists, land use planners, and geography majors.  Smart.

Clearly Sheridan had done a few things right.

  • They anticipated chaos and were over-staffed to help out.
  • They had organized the store for wider aisles so that carts (they are large) could get around and pass one another.
  • The ‘nursery’ area had great signage so you could easily see if the plants were sun or shade needy.
  • There was much help in the bulk section to load soil/mulch in your car.
  • There were several managers on the floor who could answer my questions.
  • The staff was well-connected with walkie-talkies to ensure the help required was immediate.
  • The ‘store’ area had many outdoor vignettes that truly provided inspiration …. I wanted my backyard paradise, well to look like a backyard paradise….. I was able to gather some good ideas

  • The outdoor vignettes not only inspired me, but really made me want to buy so the impulse aspect of this was working very well I would say.
  • An off-duty police officer made it easy to get in and out of the parking lot as well.

So what started out as a dreaded task, ended up being a walk in the park.  Now the hard work lies ahead ….. preparation of the beds and yard and pool.  SIGH.  However, thanks to Sheridan’s seductive taste of what it could look like, that vision will spur me on to complete this task as my backyard oasis beckons me.  I will plan with the precision that Sheridan does.  A valuable lesson for all retailers.