Local garden centers are scrambling to fulfill online orders as they shift from being primarily retail locations where customers come in and pick out flowers and shrubs, to a an online ordering experience with contactless curbside pickup and home deliveries of annuals, perennials, herbs and vegetable plants.
"We have been set up to do online shopping for several years, but now, this has exceeded everything we ever imagined," said David Bates, owner of Bates Nursery and Garden Center.
Bates Nursery started pushing online ordering and curbside pickup when the coronavirus "safe at home" orders stymied foot traffic to his Whites Creek Pike nursery.
"It is very labor intensive," Bates said. "We have had so many orders that we are sometimes up to a four-day wait" between the time a customer orders and when they can make a pickup.
Bates Nursery has been receiving about 70 online orders a day, compared to this time last year when they might have gotten two online orders in a week, Bates said.
Beth Hewitt, at Hewitt Garden and Design Center in Franklin, agreed online ordering has been instantly popular with customers who want to keep their distance but are eager to tackle some landscaping projects.
"People are wanting to get out in their yards, and this is our time of year to sell," she said. "We are getting 40-50 orders a day. Most of them are things like a flat of this, three geraniums and a bag of potting soil. Not huge orders but still, I am so thankful for the business."
"Our customers are loving it. Some of them are getting their second or third orders for delivery or pickup," she said. "We have 12 greenhouses full of annuals, and our tropicals are coming in."
Are you ready to get your green thumb busy? Here's where to go:
Bates Garden Center remains open to walk-in traffic between noon and 4 p.m., but there is a limit to the number of shoppers allowed on the 3-acre property. No children or pets are allowed.
Bates reassigned much of his retail workforce to pull orders for the online customers.
Because it is so labor intensive to fill all of the orders, he said there is a $25 minimum purchase on online orders.
Bates has gotten the word out about the online ordering and curbside pickup primarily through his weekly newsletter, which has 17,000 subscribers. He said that there has been a learning curve, but "we seem to be getting up to speed."
Details: Bates Nursery is at 3810 Whites Creek Pike, 615-876-1014. Order at www.batesnursery.com.
Hewitt Garden Center
Hewitt Garden and Design Center in Franklin remains open to walk-in shoppers but also offers curbside pickup and delivery. Delivery is free to 37069 and 37027 zip codes and $35-$65 for delivery to other locations.
When you know what you want, email your order to [email protected]. Then garden center staff will check what is available and email back a receipt. You pay over the phone, and they will let you know when to pickup, usually within 24 hours.
Pickup times are 7:30-8:30 a.m. or after 4 p.m. Hewitt also offers some after-hours shopping by appointment.
Details: Hewitt is at 2525 Hillsboro Road in Franklin; www.hewittgc.com or 615-661-6767
Moore & Moore
At Moore & Moore in Bellevue, owner Duncan Borders has closed his business to walk-in traffic, offering curbside pickup and delivery on orders made online or by phone.
"We are trying to push people to order online because the phones have been jammed," he said.
Customers order and pay online. The garden center staff will pull the order and call you when it's ready, usually 24-48 hours after placing the order.
Border said his company has gotten the word out about the curbside pickup and delivery options primarily through social media. There is no charge or minimum for the curbside orders. Delivery fees vary by zip code.
Details: Moore & Moore is located at 8216 Highway 100. Order at 615-662-8849 or www.mooreandmoore.com.
Gardens of Babylon
Gardens of Babylon at the Nashville Farmers Market, has stopped walk-in shopping but welcomes online orders. Place orders at www.gardensofbabylon.com (click “Online Garden Center”) for curbside contactless pick-up or local delivery.
Orders will be ready for pick-up within 48 hours, depending on demand, and customers will receive an email notification when their order is ready. Curbside pick-up times are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday through Friday, and noon to 4 p.m.on Saturdays. Delivery within 30 miles is available for a fee.
Details: Gardens of Babylon, 900 Rosa Parks Blvd. at Nashville Farmers Market, www.gardensofbabylon.com
Reach Ms. Cheap at 615-259-8282 or [email protected]. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/mscheap, and at Tennessean.com/mscheap, and on Twitter @Ms_Cheap, and catch her every Thursday at 11 a.m. on WTVF-Channel 5’s “Talk of the Town.”