Back to the Future: Predicting The Miniature Garden Hobby
~ Updated – It’s funny how an iconic movie from your childhood can make you think of the past, present and future at the same time. As kids we gobbled up those Back to the Future videos over and over, never getting bored with the idea. We wanted to be Marty McFly and jump to the future to see what our family would look like, to cash in on inventions and change the things we didn’t like. The movie did a great job in making 2015 seem so far away it was unfathomable to think of at the time.
Well, funnily enough, we predicted the future in our own way here at Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center.
Being the first business dedicated to the art and craft of miniature gardening, I forged ahead and just started in 2001. Who knew that creating a business with no customers or marketplace wasn’t the thing to do? I just wanted to start my own business, I sold my jewelry to fund it and began my journey. Had I known what I was really doing, I probably wouldn’t have started it at all! No customers! No products! No marketplace! No idea… Lol!
So, at the turn of the century, I scoured business books for start-up information – it was the only thing I could find as the Internet was very, very limited at that point. One could sit down for an hour or two and actually make it to the end of an Internet search! I ordered every book I could find with a title or reference to miniature and gardening. I scoured the entire library system too, waited for the books to get sent to my local library and had to go pick them up – only to find it wasn’t the type of miniature gardening that I was looking for. Nowadays, all you have to do is input any question and Google will provide.
Back to the Past: How to know if it was a good idea?
So how did I know if this miniature garden idea had legs when there was no one else doing it? It was my Ontario College of Art and Design training. During my last thesis presentation with my painting instructor, Paul Young. I asked him how do I know if it’s a good painting or not? How do I know if the painting is finished? He said, “Now that you are the artist, if it excites you, it will excite others.”
Knowing what I know now, it’s not the fact that I was excited about this hobby that fueled the business and created the hobby – it was the investment of almost 20 years now; and money that we are still investing as “new costs money,” plus the tenacity of “keeping it real” despite the copy-cats and scrapers that eventually came after me and my original ideas so they could make a fast dime and move on.
In the first years of Two Green Thumbs, there were times where I would just be overwhelmed with ideas and stopped in the middle of my studio, trying to synthesize all the potential in my head. At the weekend craft markets here in the Seattle area, where we tested out the idea for years, there were people who would just stop in front of our booth and stare at the miniature gardens. There was no talking to them during this trance either – they were trying to get their head around the notion of a tiny living garden in miniature too. Witnessing this trance fed my desire to keep bringing the idea to the world and, amazingly enough, we did, one person at a time.
And, needless to say, if you are a miniature gardener you don’t need me to tell you just how juicy this idea is. How often have you been lost in your miniature garden world?
Jump to the Present
Nowadays, everyone is on the fairy garden bandwagon in some form or another. Stores that quickly copied our business model years ago, duplicating our inventory and launching their own online stores now focus on fairy gardening instead. A Google search on “fairy garden” now generates over 8,500,000,000 results. You’ll find large displays of fairy garden items at most local, independent garden centers.
Major big-box stores are now on board. You’ll find new miniature sections at Michael’s Crafts now, and seasonal miniatures for the garden at JoAnn’s Fabrics. Hobby Lobby has always carried dollhouse miniatures but the department seems to have grown exponentially. And, lastly, the number of tiny businesses online that specialize in fairy gardening, mistaking it for miniature gardening, are now everywhere on the web. Even the garden professionals have dismissed the hobby of gardening in miniature, lumping it all together into “miniature fairy gardening” and turning away from the idea because of the overload of toys and houses in the garden bed.
But we’ve stayed the course here at Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center and even though at times we’ve included the fairy garden idea into some of our inventory, blog and social media posts, we still stand firmly behind this miniature garden hobby.
We didn’t let the fairies take over our business model like our new competitors have –Janit Calvo
because it wasn’t the fairies that entranced us to begin with – it was a “garden in miniature.”
And now, to the Future
So, here we sit, still the leaders of the miniature garden hobby. Our plant selection is still the best on the web, we offer true miniature and dwarf trees and shrubs from America’s top grower. Our plant shipping practices are the one of the best – our customers let us know that all the time. And our miniature accessories, collected from many sources around the world and here in the US, are realistic, detailed, in-scale and for the most part, weatherproof, reusable and renewable – we simply never wanted to generate landfill.
So? Like this? Want to follow the leader? If you are serious about your miniature gardening, join us here for our new weekly Mini Garden Gazette newsletter. It’s free, fun and informative.
We’ve established the first international community around the hobby with out Miniature Garden Society where we’re connecting and collecting all things gardening in miniature.