Last year I wrote an article for GapersBlock on the Chicago Sustainable Backyard Program. While researching the article I called up several of the independent garden centers in Chicago as if I was a customer and asked the people answering about the Sustainable Backyard Program. I discovered that not only were residents unaware of the fact that the city was giving rebates for doing things like planting trees, native plant gardens, and installing rain barrels and compost bins, but so were the employees at these garden centers. Even though the program published a list of garden centers who were participating, and where customers could go to buy these items the employees had no idea what I was talking about.
Back when I was in the retail game we were always pushed to do add-ons, and up-selling by our sales managers. Our hours were constantly at risk of being cut if we didn't meet sales quotas. So suggesting other items to customers came as natural as breathing. During one phone conversation with a garden center employee after explaining to him what the Sustainable Backyard Program did, I asked if he was likely to mention it to customers who he saw looking at trees, native plants, compost bins and rain barrels. His answer? No. His sales philosophy didn't involve seeming "pushy" or asking customers questions when they were shopping.
So, I'm glad to see that this year the Sustainable Backyard Program is offering a workshop for the retailers in Chicago to get better acquainted with the program, and hopefully better train their employees in the benefits of the program for average gardeners.
Building Business and Selling Sustainable: Chicago Sustainable Backyard Program Workshop for Retailers
March 1, 2012 Noon – 2pm
Chicago Center for Green Technology
Lunch provided, so RSVP is required (by Mon Feb 27th): firstname.lastname@example.org
Just to be clear: This workshop is for retailers. If your favorite hardware store, nursery or garden center carries native plants, trees, compost bins and rain barrels forward this information on to them and tell them to attend. If you want to get a rebate for planting or installing these items the first workshop for homeowners and gardeners in Chicago will take place on March 27th. Register here for that. This shouldn't be that difficult, people. The city is trying to create a local economy for sustainable goods, and giving your back your tax dollars for doing what you're already doing.