Back in February I had the opportunity to give a talk on a new book that I put together with a friend of mine, Meleah Maynard, who is a Master Gardener and garden writer here in Minnesota (you can see our promotional video here — this is the video our administration let us run — you should have seen the one they didn’t!). We conducted this talk at Bachman’s — a very well known garden center here in Minnesota. For this talk we took products off the shelves and talked about them — some we trashed, like high phosphorus fertilizers. Some we raved about, like cotton seed meal.
Anyway, Bachman’s got word of what we’d done. How could they not? some of their employees were there –and they loved it. In fact, they brought me, as well as some internal people and John Lloyd — a well known and well respected tree guy in the area — back to talk to their sales force about the good and bad products they carry. No holds barred.
This is the kind of thing I love, and here’s why. I’m pretty difficult to pin down politically. On some topics there’s no doubt I’m a liberal, on some a right winger. Sometimes to the point of being a libertarian. When it comes to garden centers I’m a libertarian. Companies needs to make money, so they should have a diverse inventory, if that’s what brings consumers in, and let the buyer beware. Part of Bachman’s success comes from the huge variety of products it carries, and I think it would be a shame for them to reduce this variety in any way — it could hurt business. HOWEVER, Bachman’s knows that this freedom doesn’t mean that Bachman’s employees should be ignorant of the environmental consequences of some of the products they carry, or that they should recommend these products to their customers when asked. So they have the best of both worlds — If you want some nutty product, hey, Bachman’s has it, and if you really want to know which products are good or bad? Hey, just ask their knowledgeable sales force. Nice!