If certain trends in my business continue, you will eventually find that you will have the best of all these features in one store, including the lowest prices. It's what customers want, and they will have it, or the stragglers will be spanked. Winn Dixie's being punished right now for not updating their stores. Here (Rochester NY), we have a chain called Wegman's, which does a great job of driving its competitors up the wall. Roughly every 6 weeks, the local newspaper does a sample shopping trip at all available stores (Wegman's, Tops, Aldi, Wal Mart, K-Mart and one or two others). Wegman's always turns out to be the cheapest. Meanwhile, they have the best selection, best specialty departments, cleanest stores with excellent traffic flow, best produce, best seafood, best service. How they do it is beyond the scope of this discussion, but it's enough to say that if you mention them to anyone in the grocery industry, anywhere in the country, the reaction is usually "Yeah....I wish we could do that".
Well, that's no surprise. It's random. I don't expect to run into someone with a doctorate in botany at a big-box store, or even at most garden centers. But, it *would* be nice to find someone who loves plants. These stores could do that, if they wanted to, and it would NOT be so difficult. They might have to go looking for talent, but they could also be more aware of when talent is staring them in the face.
Example (but an unusual one): Here, we have a home improvement chain called Chase Pitkin. I was at one of their stores back in May, looking through their outdoor plant selection. They keep most of it under a tent. The lady running the area was all over the teenage help like cats on mice, making sure they were doing exactly what she wanted done to the plants. "The tag says "shade" - put it with the OTHER shade plants! In two hours, everything on that side of the tent's gonna be roasted." With the rest of her brain, she was dispensing good advice to three customers. Every plant on display looked as if it had been readied for a photo shoot in a horticultural magazine, and she was not letting the teen staff relax when it came to continuing the manicuring, deadheading & watering.
When she was done, I told her what a pleasant surprise it was to find someone in a store like that who actually knew her stuff. She said that the year before, she was shopping for plants there, and noticed that the "help" consisted of drooling teenagers. She was looking for a job, so she walked up to the manager and TOLD him that he needed her to work there. He hired her. She seems like the kind of lady you'd be afraid (and stupid) to fire, even if some of the teenagers need psychological counseling after working with her.