Local garden centers see ‘record-breaking’ sales amid pandemic

Food, toilet paper and cleaning supplies aren’t the only items people have been craving during Ohio’s stay-at-home period.

Local garden centers are reporting “record-breaking” sales during the coronavirus pandemic.

The North Dayton Garden Center, at 1309 Brandt Pike, is having a “banner year,” said owner and co-founder Pete Kossoudji.

>>PHOTOS: Area garden centers see sales boom

“I’ve been hearing from customers who are enlarging their garden plots, some are even doubling them,” Kossoudji said. “Which makes me happy that they’re buying more, I’m grateful, but I am also fearful for my customers, for my friends and for my family. This is a scary time.”

Marybeth Taggart, advertising manager for Grandma’s Gardens near Waynesville, said the garden center had a record-setting Mother’s Day sale. The average amount spent per purchase has increased this spring, too, according to Taggart.

“With so many stuck at home, people are upgrading their gardens and landscapes,” Taggart said. “Growers are actually having a tough time keeping up with the demand.”

Reuters reported that people all over the world are turning to gardening during this coronavirus lock down. People may find themselves with more time because they were furloughed or now work from home, or they find their usual activities are not able to take place. Seed companies around the U.S. have reported sharp increases in orders.

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Kossoudji said he feels a little guilty that his business at North Dayton Garden Center is doing so well when many other businesses have had to be shut down during the coronavirus pandemic. During a normal spring, with all this rain and the recent frost, garden sales would be dismal, Kossoudji said.

This year, the garden center is busier than ever and unloading semi-trucks full of plants, flowers and seed “like crazy,” Kossoudji said.

“We have been selling the heck out of vegetable plants,” Kossoudji said. “Some customers are afraid that grocery prices are going to go up or that they won’t have much produce, so they’re buying vegetables to grow in their home gardens.”

Taggart said Grandma’s Gardens was deemed essential, so they were able to continue selling plants and flowers temporarily curbside. Now that the greenhouses are open, staff are sanitizing carts, wearing masks and taping off aisles to direct traffic and keep customers socially distant.

Taggart said “anything with color” or flowering annuals, shrubs and trees are currently best sellers at Grandma’s Gardens.

“People want to add color to their world, their landscape,” Taggart said. “Plants are a soothing addition to your environment. It helps you get away temporarily from all that’s going on.”

Jacob Stockslager, production manager of Stockslagers Greenhouse and Garden Center in New Lebanon, said they have seen the biggest increase in sales in vegetable plants.

“People are forced to be at home during this time and they are finding the time to be in their gardens, people also may be taking care of the lists they had but now have time to complete,” Stockslager said.

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Stockslagers closed on March 16 and opened its retail space back up on April 20. The garden center installed plexi-glass at cash registers and is enforcing social distancing in the store.

Stockslager said the garden center also saw a rise in vegetable plant sales in 2008, but wasn’t sure if the two increases in sales were related in any way.

Tomatoes and peppers are the two biggest sellers right now, according to Stockslager.

“We have sowed more seeds than normal this year to keep up with demand,” he said. “We’re starting to find that we’re selling out of some things more quickly than usual.”

Stockslagers also sells to other growers and garden centers. They are selling more plants and flowers wholesale as well.

“I think this is an outlet for the consumer, a feel good thing to do,” Stockslager said.

Stockslager said the garden center is thankful for support from customers and the employees who continue to work.

“We went from not knowing if we would even be able to sell product to selling out of some things in retail and wholesale,” Stockslager said. “We’re very fortunate to be sitting where we are. For everybody these are challenging times, and a very important part of our success is our employees.”

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