If you run a garden centre, a fantastic way to become part of the local community is to host family activities, where all ages can get involved. Here we have compiled all of our best ideas for what you can do in your garden centre, and win faith with the local community.

Family Garden Parties

If you have the ability to cater, or simply have a nice space that a garden party could be held in, then this could be a great idea to become a more established part of the community. If people see your garden centre as a community space and a friendly and welcoming store, then they will likely shop there too. A garden party is a relaxing and fun activity for parents to bring their children to, to meet other parents and children. It provides an excellent opportunity for children to play and get out of the house and will certainly improve your brand’s public perception in your local area.  

Host a Drawing or Photo Contest

If there’s a prize involved people will often take part in photo and drawing contests, which is fantastic for your business’s social media pages and can drive more footfall. If you have a following then this is most easily done through social media due to the ease of uploading a photo, however, this could also be a great way to kick start a social media page. Be aware of the Facebook competition guidelines as this could be a stumbling block for your competition, as of the time of writing you cannot ask people to follow or like the page in return for entry, though you may have seen it elsewhere, this does not comply with their guidelines and can have dire consequences. If you do not wish to be on social media, then allowing people to email you could also work or asking them to bring in a physical copy of their work, which could make for a great display. Random draws are best for choosing winners as this removes bias or perceived bias and make sure you set clear opening and closing times.

Bug Hunt

You surely have an outside space that is thriving with bug life. So why not open this up for children to have a valuable learning experience? A great way to do this would be to create a chart or checklist with all the bugs the children could find in your garden centre, and then give them a pencil or crayon and watch them go! They could either do it as a stand-alone activity or while they go around the shop with their parents. Make sure they watch out for creepy crawlies that could hurt them like wasps and bees, while also preaching the benefits of these animals. In addition to all of this, a prize could be offered at the end to make the experience really memorable for the child and their parents.

Free Seed Giveaway

Free seeds for children, pretty simple, if you have seeds that are reaching their expiry or just have some cheap seeds you could afford to give away, this is a great look for your brand and a very kind and generous thing for a business to do! While promoting growing at home to children, you also win favour with their parents and when it comes to plant care, they will come to you for all they need (watering cans, more seeds, spades etc..). Make sure you advertise, and you will certainly gain some long term custom from happy parents!

Grow a picture

To create a fancy display in the green areas around your garden centre or store, a great idea can be to grow a picture. This is likely best placed outside the front of your centre to draw the eyes of people walking by and more importantly to bring a wow factor that will get people inside your shop. To do it, use brightly coloured flora and plenty of light and deep greens. Plant with space for the flowers to come through and don’t make your picture too complicated, this is also best placed ideally on a slope so that people can the picture from where they stand. Once complete this is a good thing to take a picture of and print on posters as people are often drawn to floral displays.

Treasure Hunt

If you want to establish your brand in the local community, then hosting kids’ activities is a fantastic way to do it. It makes your brand appear to be friendly and caring while also getting people into your store and increasing their exposure to your brand. Treasure hunts are fun for kids and their parents and can be adjusted to any budget. If you have enough space in your store, simply hide some sweets or cheap toys for children to find and keep, and then advertise. If you can, it will be a good idea to provide baskets or bags for the children to collect the treats in. While their children go around, the parents will no doubt browse your products, and due to the friendly nature of your store will be likely to make a purchase. We also provide FREE National Children’s Gardening Week branding which could be used for example: find all of the characters and write down where they are for a prize.

Make a Colouring Sheet or Use Ours

Most kids love to colour. Provide colouring pens and colouring sheets (Ours can be ordered from marketing) and a comfortable area for the children to colour. This is especially effective if you have an on-site café or seating area. You could then include an element in your advertising about kids’ activities which will draw families to your store. The colouring sheets could include: a variety of different plants to colour in, colouring by numbers, crosswords and word searches, noughts and crosses, animals and buildings such as a stable or barn.

Recycled Garden

An inspired way to recycle and promote recycling while attracting more customers by having an interesting store; is to recycle furniture into makeshift and unique plant pots and planters. Recycling old drawers, watering cans or paint pots, provides a fascinating visual experience while also saving the environment. Children could decorate and donate some pots for the store, which they can enjoy if they visit on return journeys. This is a fantastic attraction that people can recall fondly after visiting.

Set up a Nature Trail

This one depends on space and what types of space you have. Having a sensory trail or path can transform your centre into a place kids go to have fun rather than just a store. You will provide the children with escapism and intrigue whilst also giving parents time to shop, or some much-needed rest. Furthermore, you can use this space to advertise what you sell, perhaps there are some animals on your trail; or some intriguing plants and flowers that the children can show their parents. This trail could be the lead up to another part of the garden centre or just in your outdoor section as a point of interest, either way, you are adding value to the customer’s experience which bodes well for your sales.

Run a Rock Label Making Class

A fantastic idea for an easy and relatively cheap class you can run is a rock painting class, this could be in line with the painted rocks craze, or to create labels for plants in their garden or your garden centre. Children love to create art, and this is a fantastic way to harness that to the benefit of all. As always, make sure you market this in whatever way you can, and stock up on paint and rocks. You should have some examples and some inspiration available to help them along while painting. Another idea that would work alongside this would be to make it a competition, perhaps running multiple events up to a final where the winner wins a prize such as a free plant or £10 off.

Leaf Printing Class

A great way to nurture nature into art. Using the natural colour palette of the environment around us can be an amazing way to create some inspiring artistic creations. If you have the facility to teach, then you could invite families to visit the store and go home with some art created by their little ones. This fosters a family-friendly feeling around your store which will have your customers coming back for more, and that means sales. You will need to provide paint and paper as well as paintbrushes to paint the leaves. The leaves could be sourced by you or can be sourced by the kids themselves; this could even be tied-in to a nature trail type activity. Encourage the parents to hang these pictures up as this could remind them of your centre subconsciously in the future.

Vegetable Planting Class

Growing fruit and vegetables can be such a rewarding activity for young children to get involved with. Being able to eat their own produce, is not only healthy for the body, but also healthy for the development of their brain. This activity is so simple to run, all that’s required is a wealth of plant pots that the children can take home (these can be provided by you or bought for a charge), vegetable seeds you are willing to donate, and the knowhow. Run your event in a nice space where the parents can keep watch and enjoy their child learning these valuable life skills.

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