POLAND, Ohio — For the last few years, Don Kushner had been toying with the idea of effecting a new online tool to boost business, although for a variety of reasons, he never pulled the trigger.
All it took were a few headlines in the news in January about the possibility of a global pandemic to make up his mind. “We felt now was the time to do it,” Kushner says.
The new tool, titled “Plant Finder,” allows customers of Kushner’s Garden and Patio to view the center’s projected inventory without leaving their homes.
Now available on its website, Kushners.com, Plant Finder provides photos and information about all available plants, as well as how to care for and maintain them. “It will give you all the information you need to put it in an area the plant will succeed,” Kushner says.
By using Plant Finder, customers can generate lists of the products they’re interested in. “We can call them or they can call us and we can give them the different sizes and prices on all the plants,” he says.
Customers then have the option to pick up their plants at the store or use curbside pickup. Should they also want mulch or other items, the whole order can be delivered, Kushner says. “They can pay with a credit card so they don’t even have to go in the register area. We’re trying to accommodate people at this time.”
Kushner has had plenty of time to work out the kinks in the new system. Instead of coming home six weeks ago, the 72-year-old has been quarantined in the Florida Keys where he was vacationing, which is on lockdown.
Which means his two sons, co-owners Vince and Randy, are doing most of the groundwork at the Poland garden center. Compared to other years, Vince says, more customers are having products delivered. The biggest change he anticipates is how the business interacts with customers.
“You can take a picture of your house and superimpose plants on the front of it. That can be done by email,” Kushner says.
Although the great unknown is how long the pandemic endures, as well as the economic downturn, Kushner is optimistic.
After all, he asks, for residents who have spent the last few months inside, what could be better than a little time in the garden?
“It’s a proven fact that landscaping, gardening is stress-relieving. People need to get outside and do this,” he says.
Pictured: Vince Kushner is in the skid-steer. With him are Kevin, Mikey and Kara Kushner.