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Old-Fashioned Becomes New Fashion

The wooden bins on the walls of Leeper Hardware in Jefferson City, Tennessee, have been there for years, but their timeless appeal still draws customers’ attention. Brian Williams, who works in commercial and industrial sales at the store, explains the bins were installed at a time when everyone bought seeds in bulk.

“This was part of the store, because 20 years ago all seed was purchased this way,” he says. “Everyone had large gardens, meaning everyone wanted bulk seed.”

Williams still keeps the seed bins around, though, because they’re an effective sales and merchandising tool.

“Everyone likes to touch and see what they are buying,” he says. “Daily we see parents and grandparents explaining the different varieties of seeds to their children or grandchildren.”

To fill his seed wall, Williams purchases the most popular varieties of vegetables in bulk—in his case beans, corn and okra—and then fills the largest bins with these seeds. Above these, he has smaller containers of greens and beets, then finally, packaged seeds, which allow him to display a larger variety in smaller quantities.

Williams suggests purchasing the most popular seed varieties in bulk—50-pound bags—to capture the biggest discounts. He purchases the rest in 10- or 20-pound bags, which also gives him a discount.

Selling seeds in bulk also requires a scale so customers can weigh the exact amount they would like to purchase. In fact, Leeper has an impressive antique scale from the early days of the store.

As with any outdoor product, displaying the product at the right time is everything. Pay close attention to when seed sales spike and plan to fill the seed wall accordingly.

“We have seeds most all year except for the winter months,” Williams says. “People always want their seeds early, and there are always hopefuls who try to plant late. By far, the busiest times are spring and fall crop seasons. We also start early on taking special orders from our seed fanatics to make sure we have the odd varieties for every type of garden.”

About Liz Lichtenberger

Liz Lichtenberger
Liz is the special projects editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. She reports on news and trends, visits retailers, and attends industry events. She graduated from Xavier University, where she earned a degree in English and Spanish and was a member of the swim team. Liz is a Louisville, Kentucky, native who lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two children. She enjoys swimming, reading, doing home improvement projects around her house and cheering on her two favorite basketball teams, the Kentucky Wildcats and the Xavier Musketeers.

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