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Progress 2007 Industry & agriculture

Nurseries among those with boost from daylight saving time change

April 21, 2007

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Josh Erhart, Lawrence, mashes potting soil into a chute early this spring so his co-workers at Clinton Parkway Nursery, 4900 Clinton Parkway, could collect it for freshly potted seedlings. The early start of daylight saving time this year made consumers start thinking spring early - and nurseries were among businesses who tried to cater to the March madness.

Josh Erhart, Lawrence, mashes potting soil into a chute early this spring so his co-workers at Clinton Parkway Nursery, 4900 Clinton Parkway, could collect it for freshly potted seedlings. The early start of daylight saving time this year made consumers start thinking spring early - and nurseries were among businesses who tried to cater to the March madness.

Douglas County nurseries and greenhouses are catering to a deluge of customers this year, thanks to a change on the calendar.

Believe it or not, business owners credit the spring surge to Congress - lawmakers moved daylight saving time forward about three weeks this year.

"Spring is definitely important for us. We probably do 75 percent of our nursery business from the last two weeks of March through May, and maybe the first two weeks of June," said Ann Peuser, owner of Clinton Parkway Nursery & Garden Store, 4900 Clinton Parkway.

"And it's a little tougher right now, because the customer thinks spring has kicked into high gear," she said in mid-March. "They don't realize that it's still early in the season and we don't have everything out yet."

Weather is another factor that influences nursery business, according to Peuser, and the weather's been nice so far this spring, except for an unusual cold spell the first week of April.

"It can affect us in terms of (customer) traffic, which translates into sales," she said.

Early rain doesn't affect what supplies her nursery can get in, but it does impact what the business can sell to customers.

"When it's raining all the time, people don't want to go outside and mess with it. Some of them will dodge the sprinkles, but early rain does discourage some gardeners. When it hurts us is weekend rain, because that's when people have time off," Peuser said.

"We track the weather with our sales figures, and I can go to any day or weekend and tell you without looking at what the weather was like that this was not a good day, weather-wise, because it really affects our sales."

Her nursery accommodates daylight saving time and the later light in the evenings by extending its springtime hours to better serve customers.

"If we extend our hours, customers will have time to come in and get those flowers that they want and actually get some help. We can take care of them better Thursday and Friday, when it's a little less busy than on the weekends," she said.

Beth Bloss, assistant manager of Earl May Nursery & Garden Center, 3200 Iowa, also credits daylight saving time for some early springtime business.

"I think it's helped us," she said. "People are able to do more in the evenings right now. They have more time after they get off work to do projects."

Amy Albright, co-owner of Vinland Valley Nursery, 1606 N. 600 Road, says this spring has been a busy time for her operation.

"It's warmer earlier, and on top of that, daylight saving time being moved up has kind of disoriented people. It's making them think it's later in the spring than it is. It's affecting people. It's lighter later, and that always makes you feel that it's later in the spring/early summer season," Albright said.

This means that her spring sales bump has been moved forward, and she hopes it also means that her business will enjoy a longer season of robust sales.

What are customers buying so far this spring?

"It's people working on everything from adding shrubbery and putting in shade trees and new construction to people eager to get annuals in containers on their patios," Albright said.

"Pansies are the classic annual, but I think people are getting a little more sophisticated. It doesn't seem to be quite as important to them to buy just the classic pansy thing. We've got a lot of perennials and a wide range of shrubs. We try to carry more unusual things."

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