“You can power walk or beach comb but you can’t do both.”
My friend Susan’s wise words came back to me yesterday while I was at the beach for a WALK.
Every time I started to slow down to look for teeth, I muttered to myself, “Eyes on the prize. EYES. ON. THE. PRIZE.”
Some things can happen concurrently.
Walking and listening to a podcast.
Weeding and talking to my Mom.
Stirring a pot of caramelizing onions and doomscrolling.
But some can’t.
Driving and putting on mascara.
Knitting and swimming.
Running and painting.
And by trying to do both at once, neither turns out very well.
Look for teeth. Or walk. But not both.
Unless you’re Susan, who could spot a 5mm wide shark tooth from the back of a lifeguard’s ATV tearing down the beach.
(I kid, only slightly.)
In early May I went to Holland, Michigan with my parents to see the tulips.
Holland, Michigan has the whole “do one thing really well” concept dialed in. Here’s a tour:
1. The entire main street is planted with tulips and you can grab a map with info about which type of tulip is in which bed.
2. There is a 6 mile long “tulip drive” in town. Every fall, the town plants hundreds of thousands of tulips along a specific route. I’ve never seen anything like it.
3. The big tulip garden, Veldheer, has lots of chairs scattered throughout the fields and welcomes people to sit and relax amongst the flowers. (Hi Mom and Dad!)
4. Veldheer hands out an order booklet to every visitor, so that while they’re taking pictures of EVERY. SINGLE. TULIP. they can place an order for next year. BRILLIANT!
5. Volunteers from around town help plant the millions of tulips each fall, and then dig them up in May after the bloom. The door (pictured below) is one photo op placed throughout town.
The Most Beautiful Plants
Following our Holland visit, we scooted over to Zeeland, Michigan to visit Garden Crossings.
Immediately upon entering, my Mom said, “These are THE MOST GORGEOUS PLANTS I HAVE EVER SEEN AT A GARDEN CENTER EVER.” (And she’s been to a LOT of garden centers.)
Garden Crossings’ “One Thing” is growing the most beautiful plants you’ve ever seen anywhere, and they lean into it.
They’re also a Proven Winners destination, and the ONLY place in the US that sells Every. Single. Variety of Proven Winners plants.
Here’s a tour:
1. Cart return but make it garden. (I MEAN, LOOK AT THOSE PLANTS!)
2. Rod and Heidi, the owners. (Thank you for the behind-the-scenes tour of shipping. If you want to see my reel video of that, click here.)
3. Each winter, they welcome customers to bring their (new) pots (no disease, please) to the greenhouses and pot up their own creations. Garden Crossings then grows the containers until it’s time for display. Here are some of this year’s waiting for customers to pick them up.
4. A new-ish installation is the butterfly house. This house showcases butterfly varieties (another “living showroom”) and Heidi releases real live native butterflies! This is my mom modeling the photo op! #Instagram4Ever
5. Because Garden Crossings has such beautiful plants, they have visitors from all over. Heidi put out a map so customers can put a pin in where they’re from. We were the first!
Garden Crossings focuses on PLANTS, proving that even in the age of “activtizing” (which you know I love), focusing on PLANTS, and growing the most gorgeous plants ever is a winning strategy.
Living (rooming) It Up
After stopping at Garden Crossings we made our way to the other side of Grand Rapids to visit Koetsier’s. Craig and Melinda were the MOST welcoming. (Thank you for hydrating us.)
First, I would like to point out that their website has a COUCH on it and an email signup. They speak my love language.
The welcoming vibe extends to the rest of their operation.
Their ONE THING is serving an affluent suburban audience that likes pretty things and sees flowers and plants as decoration for their lives, not a big hobby. These folks want to feel welcomed and not overwhelmed, and are always looking for things to do with their kids or their girlfriends. Price doesn’t matter.
Once inside, I felt like I was visiting my super cool friend who has impeccable taste, understands that comfort is as important as looks, always has treats for my dog and drinks for me, and always has something fun to do up their sleeve. And if I had kids, there would be something for them to do too.
Glitter in the skies; glitter in my fries
Here are a few other people and places doing an excellent job at committing to the bit.
What started as a little bakery in a tiny cottage has expanded into a mini empire including a palace of edible glitter in Carmel, IN and a soon-to-open spot at Disney’s Boardwalk resort in Orlando, FL.
They’re committed to:
1. Glitter on everything
2. White decor
3. Photo ops
4. Make a regular Wednesday feel like Christmas.
The Plant Guys
Video is Debbie Foisy’s (owner of Deb’s Greenhouse) ONE THING when it comes to marketing.
My newest obsession is watching The Plant Guys. They’re just so. . . real. Utterly charming. Real is good. Especially now.
Walking or teeth, not both.
What’s your thing?
OR. . . even juicier. . . what do you KNOW SHOULD be your one thing, and what do you need to STOP doing so it can be?
Millennials killed sea glass, too.
*I* can usually spot sea glass from a moving vehicle, which means usually, even on a power walk, I’ll find a piece.
Or, at least, I used to.
I’ve lived in Wilmington for 18 years, and the amount of glass I find has dramatically declined over that time.
If it takes around 30 years for a piece of glass to turn into tumbled sea glass and not a trip to the emergency room, we’re looking at something that limited the amount of glass ending up in waterways.
1993 or thereabouts: recycling becomes mainstream.
Unforeseen consequence: less sea glass.
That’s the other thing I thought about on the beach.
AI Corner: What’s Next?
TALK ABOUT UNFORESEEN CONSEQUENCES.
Instead I’m instituting an AI corner, “What’s Next?,” and doing weekly videos about What’s Next related to AI on our Instagram.
The green industry is not always first when it comes to adopting or incorporating new tech, but the choice to engage with ever more AI tools and consequences of those tools is not our own. The horse is out of the barn. The toothpaste is out of the tube. AI iteration is happening incomprehensibly quickly, but somehow we have to comprehend. Why? Because of what’s next.
- AI usage policies: As tools like ChatGPT and Bard, and other language models become easy to access and use, your staff are going to use them. Make sure they understand what data they are permitted and not permitted to upload. (No uploading an entire POS data dump into ANY open AI platform like ChatGPT.) Businesses, especially marketing and publishing businesses are going to need AI usage policies. Here’s one from WIRED. Stay tuned for ours.
- AI and software as a service (SAAS): AI tools are becoming standard components of the SaaS you subscribe to for your business. From Shopify to Google, MailChimp to Attentive, Later.com to Zapier, everyone’s incorporating AI. Some of it works and some of it sucks. But it’s there.
- AI and search: Ever more content is not going to be the answer. Expert, unique content with personality and perspective is. Here’s an article. This is gonna make SEO firms mad, but I’ll say it anyway: stop paying SEO retainers. Stop paying firms to help you “rank.” Invest in your people and your personality instead. Invest in your one thing.
See You this Summer!
Who’s excited for summer trade shows?
I have a packed schedule at Cultiivate and I’m also speaking at the Garden Center Conference & Expo, and will attend the GardenComm conference.
Will I see you there? Email me if you want to get together.
I hope to see you at one of my talks! Here’s the schedule:
Retail Traveling Workshop: Turning Your IGC Into Your Customer’s Third Place – Their Home Away from Home
Saturday, July 15 • 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Live Inventory: Embracing Opportunities and Avoiding Pitfalls
Sunday, July 16 • 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
In the Lab and Out in the Field: Consumer Perspectives
Monday, July 17 • 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM
Taking 3rd Place: Garden Centers as Gathering Spaces
Monday, July 17 • 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
TextEd – SMS Marketing for Retail Garden Centers
Monday, July 17 • 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
09:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Taking The Fear Out Of Talking Tech
From SMS to AI to data analysis and more, there are exciting opportunities for garden centers on the market. But how do you navigate this new world of technology and feel confident in your investments? In this session, Katie Elzer-Peters will translate computer-speak into language we can all understand. By examining examples of tech opportunities in our industry, you’ll walk away from this session feeling confident about exploring how new tech can improve your business.
Each newsletter always has a mix of fun and functional links.
Buy a Citrus Tree
We helped Murphy Family Citrus Nursery create a simple ecommerce site for direct to consumer citrus tree sales. I ordered my husband a key lime tree (and paid for it thankyouverymuch) and it was one of the nicest plants I’ve received in the mail.
MORE great plants!
Team GOW is delighted to handle email marketing for Bluestone Perennials and they’re having their end of season clearance sale this weekend. They ALSO ship beautiful, healthy plants.
The best watercolors for beginning adults that do not want sucky watercolors and also don’t want to spend a fortune and also are mostly painting at home – just ask Jenny
Federal Holidays: The Garden of Words is closed on all US Federal holidays, including Memorial Day, NEXT MONDAY.
Fridays: Most of the team is out on Fridays, as well. (Vi and Wendy have intermittent hours on Fridays. Katie and Heather are out.)
Need help? We are available for for projects and also enjoy getting to know you and referring you to trusted providers if we can’t help. Grab a call slot here.
What’s your one thing? Write me back! I want to know! (But I’ll respond on Tuesday.)
P.S. Big shout out to Andrea from Digging In Gathering for driving up to Koetsiers to say hello to me!
And big shout out to Bob and Joy Elzer for being such good sports! Love you lots!
P.P.S. A few of you wrote back and said you enjoyed my little paintings, so here are a few recents ones. I participated in my first Plein Air festival last weekend. I was the only one with 2×3 tiny paintings. I guess my ONE THING is . . . marching to my own beat.