SIC 5261 Retail Nurseries, Lawn and Garden Supply Stores


SIC 5261

This category covers establishments primarily engaged in selling trees, shrubs, other plants, seeds, bulbs, mulches, soil conditioners, fertilizers, pesticides, garden tools, and other garden supplies to the general public. These establishments primarily sell products purchased from others, such as plant wholesalers, but may sell some plants that they grow themselves. Establishments primarily engaged in growing trees (except Christmas trees), shrubs, other plants, seeds, and bulbs are classified in the major group for agricultural production—crops. Establishments primarily engaged in growing Christmas trees are classified in SIC 0811: Timber Tracts.



Nursery and Garden Centers


All Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers (except Tobacco Stores)


Outdoor Power Equipment Stores


Retail nurseries and lawn and garden supply stores operate under a variety of names, in a multitude of consumer settings, and offer a wide range of products to serve a peculiarly American need to cultivate, trim, embellish, and control a small plot of greenery. The robustness of a homeowner's front lawn and the pleasing visual effect provided by planted shrubs and flowers has become a status symbol in a modern industrialized society of property owners. Explaining the consumer-appeal of gardening, Seattle-based Swanson's Nursery owner Wally Kerwin said, "Planting is therapeutic, environmentally sound and increases the value of the home… And it's counter-technical. Virtual gardening is not really an in thing." Thus, gardening did not compete against the technological revolution, but rather worked as an elixir to complement and soothe those immersed in cyberspace at work all day.

The retail nurseries, and lawn and garden supply stores consisted of 17,770 establishments in 2001, an increase from 16,459 in 2000, employing about 3,652,750 people and bringing in approximately $39.6 billion in sales in 2002. The majority of companies were small in this classification were small—employing less than five persons. In 2001, 5,586 companies had less than 5 employees; 3,189 had between 5 and 9 employees; 2,298 had between 20 and 99; 840 had between 100 and 499; and 1,905 had 500 or more employees.


Nursery and garden stores were either single-unit establishments or branches of multi-unit establishments such as Frank's Nursery. Single-unit establishments were primarily individual proprietorships, many of which concentrated on providing hard-to-find products to local or mail-order consumers, and often cultivated a variety of unique seeds and plants in-house. Multi-unit locations also situated themselves in conjunction with a larger outlet, such as Builder's Square stores alongside Kmart stores.

There are a number of professional or industry-related organizations for the nursery and garden supply business. The American Association of Nurserymen (AAN) dates back to 1875. In the late 1990s, most states had individual associations of nurserymen with member rosters that included individual owner-operators of small nurseries, growers of trees and shrubs, and plant wholesalers. They provided a multitude of small-business services to their members. The AAN's retail division is the 600-member Garden Centers of America, founded in 1972. Its stated aim is to meet the daily needs of garden center managers.


Retail nursery and garden supply stores have been in existence since the nineteenth century, but only in the decades following World War II did this segment of the retail economy flourish into a profitable business. To meet the postwar housing shortage, new communities filled with single-family homes grew exponentially as a result of...

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