How did Nick’s get started?
Our father, Nick Ortega, started the business in 1987 as a small, retail garden center located at Alameda Avenue and Colorado Boulevard in Denver. In 1994 we moved, purchasing the assets of J & D Garden Center at our current location. In 2000, we underwent a major expansion and acquired an additional three acres, giving us a total of 10 acres.
What sets Nick’s apart from other garden centers?
We take great pride in the quality of plant material that we provide to our customers. We have several people on staff who work with local and national growers to get the best plant material available. While many businesses mention their great customer service, we know that ours is first rate and that’s what brings our customers back. Our customer service is validated by the steady stream of complimentary online reviews we receive. Another strength of ours is the many events that we put on throughout the year. From chili roasting and cooking demonstrations to our Fall Fest and photos with Santa, our customers are constantly treated to more than just rows of plants. We also excel at merchandising, signage and displays. All this helps sell our plants and other horticultural goods all year long.
How do your special events help your business?
Despite all the work that goes into our events, they definitely pay off for us, both financially and from a customer loyalty perspective. While many of the activities we offer are free, we do charge for some popular ones like our ‘tractor ride through the haunted tunnel of terror.’ This not only helps our revenue stream but keeps our workers employed as well.
What are your top business challenges?
Like most businesses today, our number one challenge is labor. While we’re fortunate to have a relatively low turnover rate, we still have to work hard to keep our business properly staffed. This year we decided to try the H-2A guest worker program and so far we’re pleased with the results. Chances are good that we will continue to use H-2A next year as we can get the same workers back, which is beneficial. We’ve also had to deal with shortages on a number of fronts – finding plant material and hard goods has been more difficult. Because of our strong vendor relationships, we’ve been able to deal pretty well with supply chain issues.
What changes have you seen in your customers buying habits?
While all of our plant categories have seen strong sales, the largest growth has been in our house plants. These sales have been particularly strong all year long. We’re also seeing younger, new customers shop with us. We think that’s due, in part, to our active social media efforts and our robust website that contains plenty of useful information that the younger generations are always looking for.
What do like best about being a CNGA member?
We value the many opportunities that CNGA gives us to network and connect with other members. We enjoy visiting other operations so we can learn from them, while also sharing our own experiences about our company with other members. We feel like a community of members, not just a name in a member directory!