Interview with Walter Holbrook, Senior Buyer Horticulture, Garden Décor, Pottery for Turner Home / Turner Ace Hardware
Walt, can you give us a presentation of Turner Home / Turner Ace Hardware’s story? From the beginning to the present day.
Turner Hardware was started in Jacksonville, FL over 50 years ago by the late Shelby Turner and his wife Mary, who was famous for coming to work every day of the week well into her 80s. Over 30 years ago they joined ACE, the largest hardware cooperative in the industry.
Eventually their son Mike and his wife Dottie took over and now they are assisted by their 4 adult children, Karlie (HR manager), Kyle (COO), Mitchell (CFO) and Jason (Managing Director of Turner Home).
From the original hardware store in the Arlington (where one of the first European settlements was established in the 1500s), the company grew to the current 5 locations, 3 in the city of Jacksonville and 2 in Saint Augustine, the oldest city in the U.S.
Turner Home and Garden Center, at 100,000 square foot, is the flagship store, serving the finest products in indoor and outdoor living to all of northeast Florida. Through the years we have become a leading source for gardeners, designers, architects, and homeowners, offering a product mix that includes a huge selection of indoor coastal furniture, indoor décor, casual patio furniture, grills, ceramic pottery, fire pits, a full service garden center and so much more.
When was the decision of remodeling the garden center at the flagship store taken?
During the 2020 season, when the restrictions due to Covid-19 went into effect and we saw a spike in the number of people interested in taking up gardening, including a significant amount of younger people, it became clear to us that new trends were just starting and they will be lasting. We were already considering a remodel for the coming winter but seeing that our plans grew bolder. We decided we wanted the nicest garden center in NE Florida and immediately planned for a store within the store with the best Michael Carr Design pottery, then we started looking around for display solutions for the plants.
How did you discover Orlandelli and get in touch with us?
The first place where we started looking for ideas was Pinterest. Pretty soon it became clear that Europe is where garden centers like the one we had in mind were more common and more manufacturers were located. By going through hundreds of pictures there we narrowed it down to you and then we found out you had already furnished quite a few garden centers in North America but the real BINGO moment for us came when we realized you guys are located in town.
What impressed you the most in the layout we prepared for you?
In a word I would say the “shopability”; it was clear that the design you presented us would make it easy and pleasant for a customer to move around, see everything on display, find what they were searching for but also more than that. We immediately understood we could drive sales and create a more rewarding experience for our customers, through the look and feel of the garden center, an easier interaction with our team, etc.
We feel like too many garden centers are overfilled with product with little thought given to the visual effect. One element of our new garden center we are particularly happy and proud of is the decorative greenhouse for the orchids. That created a focal point hard to miss from any corner of the garden center and it is visible from inside the store too. We have noticed already increased traffic of customers who, after visiting the indoor furniture, instead of leaving the store move to the garden center because they are attracted by the orchid house.
How has your workflow changed now with the ebb and flow tables and other fixtures you bought from Orlandelli?
I will let Colleen, our garden center manager, answer that question.
Colleen : The amount of time dedicated to watering the plants is now half of what used to be and the water usage has gone down accordingly. We are extremely pleased by the tables, their looks and functionality both and we can now spend more time engaging with clients or staging the garden center than we could do when so much of our energy went into watering the plants and then taking care of the water run offs, etc.
One more question Walt, are you pleased with the final result? How have your clients reacted to the new looks of the garden center?
We are very happy and we have received lots of nice comments and compliments.
Walt, on behalf of the whole team at Orlandelli, I thank you so much for your time today and for the opportunity you gave us to help the Turner family set up this amazing Garden Center, something novel for the consumers in NE Florida.