Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.

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Nature's Bartender


WE HAVE THREE WEEKS to go to spend those Bonus Bucks. At our garden center we give a Bonus Buck for every ten dollars that a customer spends with us for all retail items. A typical ring up is around a hundred dollars. In that case we would hand them back 10 bonus bucks. During July and August our customers can spend the bucks on anything they wish except for landscaping services for up to 50% of each purchase during those two months. Most people are walking around with $500 to $600 Bonus Bucks buying anything from gifts from Mimi’s store — we hear people knocking out Christmas gifts — to pine straw.


We get in a fresh load of bushes. We grow a bedding plant crop just for these two months so a person can fill their arsenal of yard care products from our farma-see. It’s not only fun for our customers but the people at Garden Works. We are excited to see our regulars coming in to spruce up and spend their funny money freely with a smile on their faces.


The crew at Garden Works are a unique bunch of folks. If you’ve shopped there you already know and you probably know most of their names. These folks care so much about your experience while you are there that you will most likely feel like you’ve made a new friend every time you visit. The crew that makes it happen want you to be successful so you’ll keep coming back to further tour our grounds. They keep it interesting by changing major displays frequently using their immense talents and creativity. What really makes it cool is that every one who services our customers are really into gardening. They like to share their gardening experiences with you. We like to learn about the way folks do things at their homes as well as share stories from their yard. It’s really fun.


Mimi and I added Bonus Bucks to the mix back in 2003 to help keep our place bustling year round which is saying a lot for a garden center. The first day of September is when that year’s bucks can’t be redeemed any more because that is when we begin handing out the next summer’s bucks. We give out bucks from September 1st through the last day of June so you have all seasons to collect as many bucks as you can.


We want people to shop all the nurseries in town so you can find everything and more for your home. We certainly will never have everything. I shop all the other nurseries in town and I learn a lot when I get a relationship going with the folks who work at those places. Every place has their unique way of peddling flowers. It’s always fun.


Nursery people are certainly a different breed. We like being outside all the time, we like having our hands and feet and heads and necks in the dirt, otherwise we’d be somewhere else. We love helping fellow gardeners figure out their plans or their problems. We love new or young customers coming in and catching the buzz when they see that houseplant or succulent they just saw on Instagram. We love seasoned gardeners coming in with their list, especially when they stop in their tracks and see something not on their list that they just gotta have. We love it when families come in and we get to see the children’s faces light up when they see the fountains running or the koi fish swimming or our chickens poofing around in their pen along with our doves or they can chill out with our sweet cat.


MOST GARDEN CENTERS are pet friendly. It’s a perfect place to take your pet on a stroll. We’ve seen them all, dogs, cats, Boa constrictors, lizards. Someone has been in with their little monkey more than once, that one kinda freaks me out. Our place is nine acres of craziness so some people come up there to get their miles in.


I’ve seen lots of people bring their lunch to the koi pond and relax on a bench with the soothing sound of our waterfall. I guess it’s a botanical garden that is for sale. When Mimi and I visit botanical gardens we always wish they offered some of the plants we’ve seen for the first time for sale. Trust me we’ve tried just to have them laugh us off. We try to keep some nicely planted up areas to offer inspiration and to show people how different a full grown plant looks from a plant in a pot that has been restricted to the walls of the pot they live in. I think it helps to see a mature plant so you can know how to properly space plants or the distance to plant them from the house or wall. The full grown version of a plant usually surprises people. I know it has surprised me more than once.


We mainly offer the Bonus Bucks to show you how much we appreciate your coming by and trusting us with some very important stuff. And trusting us to help you spend your money wisely by educating you so the hard earned money you spend on your home turns out to be a great value. We all work hard for our money and even harder to save enough after all the have-to’s are done to have a little left over for something that can bring so much genuine satisfaction.


Genuine is a rare thing these days. I feel like to experience authentic and genuine you really have to put forth some effort and plan to make it happen. It’s so worth it. I believe that the only chance you have to encounter this true satisfaction in a shopping experience is to find a local place and let it take you in. The Northside is full of these jewels where people who own the stores are present and the people these places employ find delight in helping you and remembering your name the next time you step in their place. It’s up to you to make the magic happen when you enter a place that I’m describing by opening up to the people trying to help you and having some laughs with them and introducing yourself and asking their name so you can ask for them by name the next time you go there. That’s what makes it fun and not just another stop on your list. If you don’t get that warm and fuzzy feeling then you don’t have to go back there, just keep moving.


Just around our garden center I can think of so many locally owned places that are fun to visit. Our good friends with Olivia’s Food Emporium is one that most people know about, famous for their prepared meals, catering and many more surprises. There is a family run veterinarian next door to us that I really like. Venable Glass is next door to us, run by a great family from Madison county. We are lucky to have Mama Hamil’s right up the road from us. You can’t get more family run than those places. There are too many places near us in Ridgeland to list.


Ridgeland is very conducive to own and operate a small business in because of the cleanliness and safety that it offers. With all of our walking trails and biking paths and mom and pop eateries it’s a great place to find a central place to park and unload your bike or just take a shady walk after a day spent visiting some places that can genuinely make your day better. Sure beats the news that can drag a person down and wrap them up in a shroud of uncertainty and fear.


GET OUT AND BREATH A little, we are here to help you and be your “bartender,” someone to get or give a smile with, a friend that really can’t run when we see you coming. We can help you get your house ready for the football or fall season. Olivia can have you decked out with chow for a gathering. Bob Hamil can fill you up with some home cooking that’ll make you slap your mama and the Venables can get that nagging crack in your windshield off your list. Jackson metro is very rich with places that can help you see the world with a different lens. Again, we thank you.


On a side note I really started writing this article to tell you that Mimi and I are headed to Denver next week for Mimi’s birthday. We plan two nights at Red Rocks Amphitheater to dance around to some of our favorite music and one whole day at the Denver Botanical Gardens. Look them up. They look amazing. We will visit some friends and make some memories and most likely an article about that will be coming your way. Time to chill for a minute.

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