by Ken Lain, the Mountain Gardener
There is nothing like eating a tomato straight from the vine! Still warm from the sun, freshly picked, tender tomatoes are both sweet and tangy on the tongue, delivering a complex flavor that makes gardeners turn their backs on the pale, mealy tomatoes available from big box grocers.
A succulent tomato plucked from the garden is a product of a gardener who took the time to carefully select varieties that grow well locally. More precious hours were spent working the land, adding fertilizer and soil amendments, to grow healthy, vigorous plants. Then that grower cared for the plants and removed weeds that threatened to take space and nutrients from the tomatoes. The fruit then was harvested when at it’s flavorful peak.
That process is the reason a tomato grown for flavor and suitability to its local environment will always beat a tomato grown for crop yield and ease of transport.
The analogy of “hand-raised” tomatoes can apply to small neighborhood retailers. A shop that is part of the town’s ‘Main Street’ is attuned to the local culture, trends, and the desires of its unique customer base. We at Watters carefully select the product line of the plants to be grown, monitor profitability, and inject a special enthusiasm into our interactions with customers.
This special, personal touch is why more and more customers are turning away from the cookie cutter retail outlet found at every interstate off-ramp and turning to ‘Main Street’ for experiences and items they can find nowhere else.
“We are seeing a resurgence of interest in the Main Street culture that makes each city and town a unique destination,” says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and author of the new book Shops That POP! 7 Steps to Extraordinary Retail Success. (A must read if you love retail. ) “Retail is always a challenging way to make a living, but the best opportunities for growth and success appear to be available for small, local businesses that can bring a personal touch to the shopping experience.”
“The same factors that drive people to embrace sustainable living practices, like eating locally grown foods, are driving customers to seek out these small, local businesses,” says Jennifer Patterson Lorenzetti, owner of Hilltop Communications and co-author of ‘Shops That POP!’.
“Also, these conscientious consumers want to keep their shopping dollars as close to home as possible.” Lorenzetti explains. Local retailers simply have to make it worth the customer’s while to bypass the chain stores and shop the small venues. Watters Garden Center is a working example of a local success.
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Plant of the week is the Regal Petticoat Maple.
This spectacular shade tree has proven itself in the most difficult, inhospitable landscapes. A better maple for mineral tolerance, this specimen matures into a beautiful tree of superior disease resistance. There is no mess because this beauty produces neither flowers nor seeds on its 35-foot high vase-shaped form. Watters has had great success using this maple as a shade tree in urban and commercial settings, even in our problematic heavy clay soils. The leaves have deep green topsides with an even deeper shade of purple to its velvety undersides. The autumn colors are the real signature of this fairly recent introduction. Fall leaves turn aspen yellow on top and bright magenta pink on the underside, accented with shades of red, orange, and salmon. Good size trees are under $99, but we just received some huge specimens that are ready to plant. See a mature size in autumn color.
Until next week, keep supporting your smaller ‘main street’ retailers.
Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at WattersGardenCenter.com or FB.com/WattersGardenCenter .