I am a terrible and sometimes enthusiast gardener but, despite my track record of killing more plants than making them thrive, I love a good garden store. New Zealand has been wanting of a real, rich garden centre experiences like we see overseas. These are highly emotive experiences and there is so much potential yet, except for a handful of exceptional experiences around the country, there was a gap to bring the functional, rational, and emotional experience to life. And the new Kings Plant Barn concept store at Stonefield’s, in Auckland has nailed it.
Described as the country’s “most innovative and sustainable” this concept is trialling new ways to connect people with plants, as well as focus on sustainability. From the moment you clap eyes on the store you just want to enter to see what’s inside. From where I parked I could see the roof littered with solar panels which power the store during daylight hours and I understand, irrigation systems that reuse water.
The store was designed by Cheshire Architects and landscape designer Xanthe White, which probably explains it all – one of New Zealand’s best landscape designers having a hand in leading the experience.
“From the building design to our operations, we have looked at all areas of this store through a sustainability lens to make it the most sustainable garden centre in the country,” said Kings Plant Barn general manager Chris Hall.
The shop, which spans 2800m2, includes a children’s playground made from sustainable and recycled materials. The display zone inspires you with in-situ set-ups. I know I kept grabbing plants and pots to take home (and yes I was tempted more by the 20% off plants weekend deal).
This is a very thoughtful store and I am told with an exceptional café (it was way too busy for me to rock into, but I will be back).
“We also have a potting up area where garden enthusiasts can learn to pot or repot plants, a DIY terrarium bar and a drive-through collection point for those looking for added shopping convenience. It’s a new experience for plant lovers of all ages.” - Chris Hall, General Manager, Kings Plant Barn
I am also impressed with the New Zealand Designer Showcase section, where local creatives have a platform to display and sell their products, with profits being returned to the designer. This is outlined in more detail on the General Collective website (extract below).
"General Collective is known for its contemporary market experiences, collaborations and pop-up shops, where clever ideas are celebrated, along with the hard yards required to turn these creative ideas into reality. Every month, General Collective will deliver a designer showcase in the new Kings Plant Barn retail space. Local designers will be selected on their botanically inspired product ranges and will provide in-store workshops, demonstrations and interactive elements for customers. The best part – 100% of sales go back to these small businesses – giving them maximum exposure to a new audience without sacrificing on profit."
IN-STORE DESIGNER SHOWCASE
July / August 2022 - Koju Kokedama + The Cosy Lab
September 2022 - Two Dudes
Personal customer consultations are also on offer, where customers could meet with experts in-store or consult with a Plant Doctor on-site to get the answers to all their plant-care and gardening queries. I did that.
The store also ticks the boxes on the fundamentals; way-finding, information, clear category signage and club member offers. But don’t take my word, visit if you can or check it out for yourself in this video from Kate at Growing Green.
Video on the new Kings Plant Barn, Stonefields by Kate @ GrowingGreen