April 9, 2020

Good afternoon MNLGA Members:

This e-mail is distributed to key contacts; please feel free to share with others in your office. A few new things for you this afternoon:

I send new updates every day and really do not repeat a lot of the same information. Chelsea has added to the MNLGA’s COVID-19 resources page the COVID-19 based member alerts since we began issuing them on March 16 th . Please review them if you are hunting for older information.

Following up from yesterday – my peers in PA and MI have confirmed that big box stores have been ordered to close off access to garden centers in their stores. Garden centers are not singled out; clothing, paint, furniture, etc. departments are also restricted. This mandate may not be across the board in all locations/stores in PA, VT, and GA but it is in MI.  Let's continue to work to keep our stores in MD open, if if "only" for delivery. Keep overtly practicing COVID-19 precautions - no contact, social distancing, masks and gloves for employees, etc.

Overall, members are reporting to me pretty high demand for product and are grateful to be able to purchase. Some garden centers note the strain of doing delivery only, as it taxes internal resources, but are thankful for the business. See comments, further down in this email. 

Below are just a few things to note:

Webinars :
AmericanHort – Updates to the SBA Paycheck Protection Program Application Process
Friday, April 10 - 1:00 – 2:00 EDT   Register (no fee)

AmericanHort – No Contact Sales: A Discussion with Garden Center Retailers
Monday, April 13 1:30 – 2:30 EDT   Register (no fee)        

Garden Center Magazine - Virtual Spring Trials – 2020 California Spring Trials Virtual Conference
Tuesday, April 14 12 – 2 EDT Register

AmericanHort – Communication Through Crisis   Link to recording (scroll down the page) ; one hour

Member Feedback :
Landscape news from PA: Commercial and residential landscapers are still working including lawn maintenance companies. At new home sites only 3 people are allowed inside at one time (plumber, electrician and drywall).If the carpenter shows up someone has to leave. On the outside, only a total of 6 crew members are allowed. So, if the landscape crew has 6 and the roofer show up somebody has to leave.

Nursery and Landscape: We are still operating with prescribed precautions and our grateful for our teams to be able to work. At this point our customers still want us to come and do the projects we have proposed. I am getting calls from new and existing customers for new work, daily . Fingers crossed it will continue. We did apply for the Paycheck Protection through our local bank.

Garden Center and Landscape: Our landscape contractor customers are telling us they are losing work because people are canceling jobs and contracts due to loss of their job. Our landscape division isn't as booked as usual but is looking ok. Retail on the other hand can't get orders pulled fast enough. It seems more people are just doing things for themselves.

Garden Center and Landscape: We are open for business. The first thing on our phone message and our website is that we recommend that customers follow the governor’s order to stay at home. We are doing phone orders for curbside pick-up or delivery. We are doing about 3 times the amount of deliveries. Our installation department is basically running like normal. We are sending multiple vehicles to a job site to keep crew distanced apart. Customers are grateful that we are open. Someone tells me this, almost daily. We just had a wholesale contractor send us 8 pizzas for lunch, today. There is a mental health side to all of this, that seems to be back-burnered a bit. I know that the physical threat deserves and needs to be in the forefront.

Nursery and Landscape Contractor: We’ve got plenty of work going on -  big jobs and small and maintenance. As far as the nursery is concerned, for being a smaller re-wholesaler I think we’re back on track, believe it or not. We might be a little slower than normal, but not terribly. We have been very careful and worked closely with vendors to figure out how to pick up sold product. We stopped all incoming temporarily, but I’ve been releasing it slowly and bringing it in and it’s been selling.

Remember to utilize the COVID-19 resources page on the MNLGA website . It includes resources to help connect with consumers, explanations and access to state and federal recovery, employment, and relief efforts, and more.

Please keep me informed of what is going on with your business. If I know what is going on, I may be a better resource to you and to other members as we navigate together this uncharted territory. Feel free to email me at Vanessa @mnlga.org .

Vanessa A. Finney
Executive Director, MNLGA

Also, I'm reiterating that last week the MNLGA board paused all membership dues until April 1 of next year. As well, non-members are invited to join with a complimentary membership through the end of 2020. The purpose of this is to enable us to get information out to as many businesses as possible, as efficiently as possible. Pass the word to your non-member colleagues. Prospective members go to www.mnlga.org , click the "join here" button and select membership type 2020-Comp. Easy to do!

Blood banks across the area are in need. If you are able to give blood, please consider visiting the Red Cross. I think it would be wise to make an appointment rather than arrive unexpectedly.  Visit Greater Chesapeake Region Red Cross to find a donation center near you.