July 3, 2020
Ontario garden centres shared a tense spring with other green sectors during the provincially mandated Covid-19 shutdown. The wait was agonizing for retailers, as they watched their prime sales window narrow.

But once doors reopened, customers literally cleared retail benches, generating record sales. “It was nuts,” said Michael Van Dongen of Van Dongen’s Landscaping and Nurseries in Milton. “This was a season like none other. Unprecedented.” He reported hosting more customers than ever, and significantly, “Lots of new people entered the garden world.” Sales could have been even better, he reported, if more inventory had been available. “We had to wait two weeks for our suppliers to send even a plastic bag of garden soil — that had never happened before.”

Rob Vanderkruk of Connon Nurseries in Waterdown echoed the observations. He reported coming off an extremely strong spring, saying, “Retail sales are significantly ahead of last year.”

Vanderkruk also saw lots of new traffic in his store, an encouraging sign of new blood in the gardening community. Vanderkruk participates in LO’s Garden Communicators group, an effort started by the grower sector to work with garden writers toward driving demand for plants and garden products this tough spring. Vanderkruk credits the garden communicators for an important part in inspiring homeowners to garden during the lockdown, and to generate such unprecedented retail sales.