But can Dick Hayne nurture Terrain into a powerhouse? Will those luxury cars he spied in that parking lot fuel up at $4 a gallon to bypass the big boxes and the mom-and-pop nurseries, just to obtain the ephemeral pleasure of shopping in a place that’s … prettier? Analysts are on the fence. Driscoll describes Terrain’s market as “a place that really nobody’s paying attention to.” But CEO Senk, fresh off an otherwise cheery Q1 earnings conference call, counters, “I think some of the people that cover our stock don’t understand Terrain.”
It’s definitely uncharted, er, terrain. Home Depot and Lowe’s and their warehouse-y chain brethren share the national garden market with 20,000 independently owned nurseries, which has resulted in an ongoing battle between the Bigs and the Littles. The Bigs can’t compete with the Littles on service; the Littles are going out of business trying match the Bigs’ price points. Both offer predictable stock of decorative flags and angel lawn ornaments. Meaning, there’s an opening here for a mid-size purveyor of stylish indoor-outdoor products. How much of a market is what remains to be seen. According to the National Gardening Association, Americans spent $35 billion on DIY gardening last year, and $45 billion more on landscaping services in 2006. As baby boomers retire to their organic lawns and Moroccan-themed patios, those numbers are poised to zoom northward.
On a mild mid-May evening, the night of the opening party for Terrain at Styer’s, a woodwind ensemble plays as a server adds basil leaves to flutes of champagne. Chadds Ford garden society is out in force, scooping up pin-dot lanterns while chatting about the summer forecast and how it will affect the roses. But also in attendance is Urban’s requisite “in” crowd, a sprinkling of young-Calvin-Klein designers, subtly tattooed buyers wearing knit sundresses, and fresh-faced, green-shirted garden staffers.
In the middle stands tanned and contented Dick Hayne, who, having tucked a turquoise Ralph Lauren oxford into his faded jeans, is (for him) all dressed up. I ask him about business. “I had three men come up to me separately on Sunday,” he says. “They were out shopping with their wives, and they all told me, ‘I hate to shop, but I could stay here for hours.’”
The ultimate irony of Terrain would be, fittingly, if it turns out Dick Hayne has discovered a whole new customer — men.