Lacoste Garden Centre: "Our webshop was live within 8 days!"
Jordan was twenty years old when the Hiebert family took over Lacoste Garden Centre in 2004. Together with his father Randy and brother David, he has transformed the company from a speciality store to an expansive garden centre with a large range of products and services. “By now we have really become a third space for people, a place to go to spend a Saturday afternoon”, says Jordan Hiebert.
For a long time, garden centres in Canada filled the role of speciality shops focussed solely on gardening. While in Europe, the focus had shifted years ago to lifestyle and experience centres. This change is now starting to come to Canada. "We learn a lot from Europe and get a lot of our stock from there as well. You could say we have been making our store slightly more Dutch. We have added an espresso bar with a nice terrace and in the past year, we have expanded into clothing lines and other lifestyle products. On top of that, we now have a landscaping service. We do new installations or complete renovations of outdoor kitchens, pizza ovens, waterfalls. Anything is possible."
When you zoom in on Google Maps you might notice that Lacoste is not the only garden centre in Winnipeg. The company is literally surrounded by other garden centres. All these centres help pull people to Winnipeg. "When people go to St Mary’s Nursery & Garden Centre, they also drive past us. It’s our job to make sure they want to stop here as well. I always compare it to restaurants, nobody goes exclusively to one restaurant but everyone has a favourite. So the goal is to be in the rotation as a garden centre. I need to make sure that we are the favourite and that people spend their time and money here."
The competition helps keep Jordan sharp but relations between the centres always stay positive. Jordan is the chairman of the garden centre commission of the local association for nurseries and landscape in Manitoba. His competitor from St Mary’s Nursery & Garden Centre is also in that commission. "I even asked her to join me," says Jordan.
Due to the pandemic, it became vital for the family business to move to e-commerce. “Within 8 days we had a webshop online with around 500 products. We continued to build on that. It didn’t look perfect but it would do. During that time we had lots of video calls with Edwin and his team, which went very well. Everyone was working hard. Now we have a brand new website, completely integrated and refined.”
Some things did go wrong. For example, Garden Connect had to get used to working with Candian measurement systems which they were not accustomed to. “We use the metric system and occasionally feet. When the website went online, everything was metric so quite a few things had to be adjusted. It was interesting to see the differences between Canada and the Netherlands.”
Lacoste Garden Centre was forced to move online: “During the coming 5 years, online sales will become more and more important. I see this last year as good practice and we have learned a lot. This is how we make sure that in 5 years we are experts in e-commerce.”
Visit the Lacoste Garden Centre website on www.lacostegardencentre.com.