Spring is coming into bloom and that means that our beloved McDonald Garden Markets will be starting up in a neighborhood near you! Each spring, our Markets provide a piece of the plants, products, and education that our year-round locations have to offer. As we enter our 12th season, we have asked our owner, Mark Anderson, for his perspective on our Garden Markets.
In the spring of 2009, McDonald Garden Center pushed to launch the first Garden Market ever in Hampton Roads. Now in 2022, we will have 10 Markets that spread across the Hampton Roads area from Williamsburg and the Peninsula to the Southside of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. Our goal with the Garden Markets is to offer simple convenience, quality products, and the McDonald shopping experience to communities throughout the spring season when gardening is top of mind.
Mark has given us some insider information on how our Markets started, what is so unique about them, and what the future holds for the McDonald Garden Markets!
- Can you give me a brief history of the garden markets? How they started, why you came up with the idea, who was involved, etc?
Independent Garden Centers across the country appeared to be struggling with customer counts in the early 2000’s. As I started to speak with some customers that had not shopped at the stores in a while, I noticed a recurring trend. They told me “I just don’t have 10-15mins to drive out to your store”.
It was 2009, we were coming out of the great recession, labor was plentiful, shopping centers were overjoyed to have beautiful flowers in their parking areas and I had a great team looking for a challenge.
I can’t say it was all my idea, there was an outfit in Minnesota that was doing something similar. We also had experience with maintaining plant centers at the base commissaries in the 80’s and 90’s which made us believe it was possible.
- What makes the garden markets so unique?
Simple and Convenient. Our Markets are less intimidating and friendly to beginner gardeners because they have the help of our experienced employees.
- Is every garden market the same?
We are constantly trying to hone in on the subtleties of each market. Some seem to have a strong demand for shrubs, some it’s all annual color. Williamsburg wants anything the deer won’t eat, and the oceanfront and bay areas demand coastal selections that can withstand the salt and flooding. We cater to Hampton Roads by being specific.
- What is your favorite part of the shopping experience at our garden markets?
It’s simple! Whether you’re a garden pro or a complete novice, you can find something quick.
- How do you choose the locations for the garden markets?
I try to identify areas as close to neighborhoods as possible. I want customers to have quick and easy access so they can have more time to enjoy their personal garden but still have the ability to handpick their plants.