Much has been written about the pros and cons of the big box stores and their garden sections. More con than pro.
The box stores may not be the best place for garden needs due to the lack of training and education for the workers.
But there is a really good reason to stop in often and that is clearance sales to take advantage of seasonal gardening deals.
Years ago, not that many really, I worked for a large hardware store. This was before the day of the chain style corner hardware store. This store carried hardware, tools, paint, kitchen supplies, farm supplies, gardening, appliances and on and on. The company had 3 large warehouses in which to store the stock as they were regional distributors for many popular lines.
Many items such as garden hose, bicycles, ice skates, shot guns and so on we sold seasonally according to the market. So in the fall any garden hose was put into storage for next season and ice skates that were left over from last season were brought out of storage. Naturally new stock was ordered in anticipation of the coming season but the point is the left over stock was not sold off at clearance. Why would the owners loose money on the investment if they could save the stock for next year.
Now a days the formula is vastly different. The stores have very little storage space and they do not tie it up with overstock. Usually the stock arrives from a central warehouse or distributor and is immediately placed on the floor for sale.
This is where the clearance deals come in to play.
It is not uncommon to find many perfectly good items at drastically reduced prices. For example we were in a blue big box store recently and they were liquidating some 8’ tropical palm trees. Being that we are in a cold climate they would die right away if left out doors so they would not be good for the garden, but if you had a large enough space you could buy one for $2.00. Originally about $60.00
Of more interest to us were the giant terra cotta pots. The ones that will hold a small tree. Originally $70.00 we bought 3 for $25.00. They are really big and heavy but they will hold an elephant ear or cedar tree nicely. And we can store them until spring.
Another item usually found are box wood or other small shrubs that can be dug in for the winter. Just be sure to check the gardening zone chart. It is not uncommon for these stores to stock plants and shrubs out of zone so know your plants or read the label. Never the less, a nice canna can be kept indoors in a sunny window and it will bloom all winter long, or just save the bulb for next spring.
Watch for whole lines that may be sold off. We were able to buy a boat load of wire plant hanger baskets complete with coco liners for $1.00 each just because the store was switching to a new distributor. They needed the space for the new stock so the handing baskets were sold off cheap and quick.
Find out when your local stores place the specials out. Some of the stores around our area put the stuff out Saturday morning but many deals can be found Friday as the stock is put out in advance of the Saturday crowd.
And don’t be afraid to ask for an additional price reduction, especially if you have noticed the item on clearance for a number of days.
Good hunting and happy gardening !