This year Hawley Garden Centre bore the brunt of our very wet winter.
It led to flooding at the Dartford firm, which meant a new drainage system was needed.
However, the centre – established 32 years ago – not only survived, but expanded its offers.
Hawley Garden centre, Hawley Road, Dartford
Rather than compete head-on with larger garden centres, Hawley knew its unique selling point was an exceptionally good advisory service.
Referring to it as ‘back to basics’, the company’s gardeners only put in their plant beds what they would put in their own gardens.
The introduction of a generous loyalty scheme to encourage customers to return enables them to gain points and there is also a regular newsletter offering month-by-month advice on what to do in the garden, as well as forthcoming events and promotions.
With its long-serving, 16-strong staff, the centre has begun holding events such as farmers’ markets, a dog show and family fun days which involve lots of activities for children and cabaret entertainment which have been a great success.
Several classes from local schools often arrive for young gardeners’ talks where they are taught about plants and vegetables and given the opportunity to plant a seed and then take it home to grow in a Hawley Garden Centre complementary service.
Local businesses are offered trade discount accounts and the centre often donates gifts to local charities.
Office administrator Morgan East said: “We want our customers’ experience to be a creative one, a place where you can gather ideas and be truly inspired.
“We constantly change and update the displays, bring in new product ranges and think of exciting new plant combinations.”