We spent 2 days last week in Minneapolis at our first nursery convention, the Northern Green Expo. It was a great experience: we met a lot of vendors and salesmen, learned a ton in the seminars, and got most of our inventory ordered for the 2014 season. My head was spinning when we got home, so in order to organize my thoughts, here's another list…
Some things we learned:
1. My strength and passion lies in the retail/marketing part of the business. I’m a people person and building relationships with our customers and vendors is right up my alley. I am looking forward to expanding on the relationships that Dave's parents have already established and hoping to develop and grow our own relationships with new customers and vendors along the way. Dave's passion is the big toys and equipment. Throughout the expo, several times I heard Dave say, "I think we NEED that ________" <--insert really really expensive piece of landscaping equipment. Maybe someday Dave, maybe someday.
2. There are a lot of vendors to choose from, and you could go crazy on inventory for the year (and consequently go bankrupt). Luckily for us, Dave's parents have trusted vendors they have worked with for years, so we are not shooting in the dark on this. We did make a few connections with new vendors to add some new inventory items to the stock. Stay tuned!
3. The computer system for tracking inventory and increasing ease at check out is WAY over our budget and not really practical for our small little nursery. But it was good to learn about it and get an idea of pricing. For now, we'll keep dreaming…and just buy a cash register that will calculate for us.
5. We skipped out of the last 2 seminars for the day (which was a hard decision because they would have been interesting) to meet Dave’s parents at Terra so we could order ceramic pots and wire decor. I used my map app on my phone and it took us to Terra Garden Center, which was the wrong Terra location... we were supposed to meet them at the other Terra down the street. Oops! Well, I’m glad we made the mistake. We met the owner, Steve, who gave us a tour of the whole place, and also a little "seminar" about his own experiences in the business.
He talked with us for quite some time about making a business like this work—mostly from the marketing stand point. He confirmed a lot of our thoughts and ideas we want to try and gave us other ideas on how to reach customers and build a successful business. It was probably better than the seminars we skipped and definitely got my wheels turning. Things are starting to get real around here!