As a savvy environmentalist, you understand that the world is moving briskly toward a sustainability crisis, and you’re hoping to play a part in forestalling it by joining the ranks of conservation-minded entrepreneurs. Your desire to launch a hydroponics supply store will have far-reaching implications as you help customers learn how to put into practice soil-free growing methods practiced as far back as biblical times.
Know what you’re getting yourself into before you take that leap. There must be a market for your supplies and services in your community, unless your intention is to rely on the Internet to find customers and conduct commerce via a website. That decided, you need financing to launch either type of hydroponics supply store, so conceive a business plan that shows lenders that you’ve thought through your business idea and are confident of making a profit down the road.
Contract with reliable suppliers. Your patrons are looking for all manner of equipment and supplies to launch their soil-free growing efforts, and offering “one-stop shopping” is the key to building customer loyalty. If you’re opening a large facility with plenty of display and warehousing space, you can carry irrigation systems, racking setups, a variety of containers, plant foods and organic nutrients to help neophytes start from scratch. Reliable suppliers can make or break your business.
Set up your hydroponics supply store for convenience, grouping products logically. Grow light systems, for example, require everything from ballasts and tubes to the hardware it takes to suspend fixtures from ceilings, so don’t make customers search for products. Some of your customers may have big plans that require pumps, pipes, commercial fans and power generation, so even if your store is small, have resources for special ordering large ticket items at your fingertips.
Market your supplies and services creatively. The art of hydroponics lends itself to the gathering of like-minded people, so use word-of-mouth referrals, socially appropriate marketing strategies and tools and a community-based approach to make sure the financial goals you set the day you launched your store are met. Hold workshops on aspects of hydroponics growing methods, give presentations at community events and organizations and take advantage of gardening clubs with deep roots in communities to spread the word about soil-free growing techniques. Carry books on the subject of hydroponics growing systems and practices to support your mission to educate and sell.
Be mindful of the delicate balance between business and environmental priorities. You’re promoting soil-free growing methods as a way to sell merchandise, so don’t allow a zealous passion for sustainability color your business operations. Keep tabs on suppliers so they make good on delivery times, product quality, return policies and other practices. Keep an eye out for new vendors and stay abreast of innovations in hydroponics growing, so you always know more than your customers. Balance your passion with sound business practices, and you’ll join the ranks of those who make a good living doing what they love.
If state law permit cannabis growing for medicinal purposes, consider allocating part of your space and products to accommodate these growers.
Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.