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Little Shops of Horrors

Supermarkets need to do a better job of maintaining their plants.
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It happens every spring. Supermarkets across the land fill up their parking spaces, vestibules and areas in front of the store with a wide variety of bedding plants, flowers, shrubs and trees. It gets shoppers in the buying mood, is a definite impulse purchase and on top of that, a real cash cow. But unfortunately, it is also an area of incredible – and totally unnecessary – shrink.

I am referring to the poor, shriveled up plants withering away in the hot sun or on store shelves because nobody watered them. A couple of weeks ago I visited my local Aldi. In the middle of the store was a multi-tiered rolling rack filled with perennials and hanging baskets. One of the baskets, a New Guinea Impatient that would retail for probably $9.99, was hanging from the fixture dried up beyond reprieve. On a second visit, a box containing shade tree saplings had two of three specimens DOA. Last weekend I took a drive in the country and visited an Ocean State Job Lot closeout store. I was sorry to see most of their rose bushes would not be blooming this summer.

I just visited a local independent chain near my house called Seabra’s and witnessed a similar catastrophe with bedding plants. Seabra’s was selling them for $2.99 a pack, but at least four of the packs were almost totally dead. That is $12 in merchandise that will have to be tossed in the Dumpster.

I know they are just plants, but it annoys me because these are tragedies – and lost sales -- that could be easily prevented. What would it take to assign a clerk the task of taking a watering can and wetting the plants once a day, maybe a couple of times a day if they are in an unguarded sunny location? Maybe five minutes of time and 2-cents worth of water.

That would not only save some inventory but also give the store a better image. Dead plants in front of the store or on the shelves of the floral department do not bode well for the overall store image. It may cause consumers to question the quality of produce, meat and other perishables that the store sells.

A healthy floral department may be just what is needed to grow overall sales!

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