Julie Nathe, Owner
101 Market, Otsego, MN
101 Market Delivers Nothing But 'The Season's Best' Product & Experiences
Described as a “garden center, gift and floral paradise of beauty sitting on the edge of the Mississippi River,” 101 Market has made it its purpose to deliver “the season’s best” to customers in the Otsego, MN, community. “Our mission is to make sure that in each season, customers get the very best product they can,” says Julie Nathe, who owns the independent garden center with her husband, Ken.
Even with a solid standing as a pillar in the community, Julie knows that in order for her store to successfully navigate the future of retailing and stay in business, they need to find ways to get new gardeners in with a unique product selection, fun experiences and year-round events.
“You may have to diversify and add different things to your garden center besides plants,” she says. “I don’t know that you can survive just as a garden center anymore.”
And that’s why 101 Market has become so much more than the average garden center. During the summer months, the indie retailer carries fresh produce that has been locally grown by Ken’s brothers, Dave and Joe of Riverside Farms. 101 Market is known for its super sweet bi-color corn, hearty potatoes and juicy tomatoes.
The full-service floral shop in their main building provides arrangements for weddings, funerals, school functions and special events, as well as readymade grab-and-go bouquets. Their unforgettable wedding designs have earned them a 2019 Couples’ Choice Award from Wedding Wire.
The gift shop is overflowing with unique novelties, home decor, jewelry, frames, books, candles and personal care items. Sweeping pathways within the greenhouse and outdoor nursery yard lead customers on a plant discovery adventure through beautiful displays of containers, annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, edibles, water plants, statuary and fountains.
“We excel at our selection of hanging baskets and containers,” Julie says. “We get a lot of our product from my husband’s brother, who also owns a greenhouse about four miles down the road. He plants combinations that you’re not going to find anywhere, so they’re one-of-a-kind designs.”
Having a family connection with the grower allows Julie and Ken to have input on what they might want grown for their store, and it ensures they receive top-notch quality product. And customers notice how nice the plants are and comment that they can’t find anything nearly as nice elsewhere, according to Julie.
101 Market regularly holds classes throughout the year - many themed after the seasons and holidays. In the spring, the plant-your-own-basket class draws generations of families and friends every year. Julie says one group treats it as their annual family reunion.
Other classes have covered stepping stones, succulent planters, fairy gardens and spruce tip containers for the holidays. For the kids, they have planting classes and host school field trips, especially during their annual fall corn maze.
“It’s always so fun during the year – they’ll come back with their parents to shop, and they know this is where the corn maze is,” Julie says. “They know at a young age where to come, and hopefully keep shopping as they get older.”
Keeping on top of consumer gardening trends and the latest home decor products helps Julie differentiate their offerings. She finds the best way to find the latest and greatest is by attending industry events, such as the IGC Show and GCA Summer Tours.
“There’s always something you can find on the GCA Summer Tours,” Julie says. “I really enjoy the networking and finding people in the industry who can help you. The contacts that you make is one of the biggest things that I enjoyed from the tour.”
For example, Julie met a representative from Rapid Garden POS while on the GCA Summer Tour Nashville. The chance meeting led to a consultation back at her store to make sure all her operating equipment was up and running properly.
She found so many other ideas from the tour that could benefit her store, like the pink shade cloth, which is better for getting the right growing light, as well as layout ideas for the checkout area.
“We’re always interested in other stores’ warranties and return policies. We took back a couple of brochures to tweak ours a little bit,” she says.
Julie enjoys her membership privileges of GCA beyond the annual summer tour, specifically for the discounts she receives on the Continuing Education @ IGC classes and the IGC Show Store Tour.
“The IGC Show is always good,” she says. “I learn so much information in those classes, and the store tour is invaluable, too.”