Looking at your store through a child’s eyes could pay big dividends—it certainly did for this Rhode Island retailer
|Rick Clark (top). Perry Clark (bottom)
When it came time to find new profit centers at Clark Farms in Wakefield, R.I., owner Rich Clark decided to think inside the box—the toy box, that is.
Clark, who also “moonlights” as president of New England Grows, told an audience of retailers at this year’s Garden Center Success program that a new, unlikely consultant had helped him turn his company’s fortunes for the better: his young son.
“We identified the need to have some things to entertain families,” Clark said. “So I rely on my 10-year-old son, Perry, to advise me on things that are interesting to little kids, and we’ve been very, very successful with it.”
The garden center management team’s original goal was to make the fall season as strong as the spring season. Rich Clark turned to Perry Clark and basically said, “have at it.” He urged the youngster to imagine a garden center he would like to frequent, then Dad would try to build it. The result is a collection of activities, playgrounds and attractions the likes of which the area hadn’t seen before, at least not in one setting—and certainly not at a garden center.
“We wanted things that are going to keep kids happy, so we’ve added a lot of playground type features—a little bit on steroids, maybe,” the elder Clark said. “We’ve got a 40-foot-tall slide; we’ve got some activities for kids doing gemstone mining. The hayride is the most appealing product we have. We do a lot of work with Google, and our No. 1 Google keyword is ‘hayride,’ believe it or not.”
That and many of the other Perry Clark-inspired ideas are displayed on the previous page. From the activity zones to a petting zoo, from a go-cart track to theme areas such as “Rainforests of the World,” the youngster struck just about every chord that could appeal to a child.
The bottom line: A big boost to the bottom line. “We’ve made significant strides toward getting the fall number to match the spring number,” Rich Clark said. “We’re not there yet, but by providing entertainment and family oriented [activities], we’re drawing a lot bigger crowds.”
Oh, and there’s one more significant benefit to hiring a consultant of Perry’s ilk. “He works for Legos,” Rich Clark said. “We can definitely afford him.”
For more on Clark Farms, visit www.clarkfarms.com.