By Therese Figura
Asheville’s B.B. Barns was founded in 1988 when a visionary, Barney Bryant, met with his banker, Ned Gibson, to negotiate a loan to open a garden center. By the time the negotiation process was completed, Bryant had inspired Gibson to join him in the business endeavor. The two have been partners for 30 years in the successful creation of this garden and gift center destination and landscaping services division for WNC. Today Bryant owns the retail division and Gibson owns the landscape services division.
The company is celebrating this benchmark with its team and customers on Saturday, September 15, with A Party in the Garden from noon until 3 p.m. Live music, refreshments and great specials will be part of the festivities. The company’s success, Bryant says, is based on “the passion Ned and I have for people and plants and our prayer for talented, gracious employees to join the team. The team has a shared vision and mission: winning together in a ‘we’ culture. Enhanced communication, friendships and trust drive the team and allow for a cohesive company.”
The two owners attribute their success to the experience their employees provide for guests who are welcomed to the garden center six days a week for 12 months a year. A visit to B.B. Barns is a memorable experience motivating customers to spread the word. The team considers satisfied customers its best marketing tool.
The four-acre garden and gift center hosts an exotic plant collection and a gallery of unique gifts. The annuals greenhouse and the nursery are filled with blooming color and quality specimens second to none. B.B. Barns offers outdoor living services integrating creative landscape and hardscape designs through its certified landscape services team. Many times customers desire an onsite consultation at their business or home. Garden coach Cinthia Milner will make an appointment to meet with the customer, a unique service provided at an hourly rate. Brenna Henley, container gardening designer, will also meet with clients for an onsite consultation on container gardening or installation.
Customers have dubbed B.B. Barns “the fl oral spa of Asheville.” The center can meet all outdoor living, indoor décor and holiday decorating needs, as customers create spaces to enhance their quality of life.
Keeping the mission and goals foremost is the daily endeavor of the B.B. Barns team. The mission—to fulfill the needs of customers through relationship building—is consistently passed on in training. Bryant and Gibson agree the way to accomplish this is to have employees who are experts in their field and who are empowered to graciously serve each customer to their full satisfaction. “Get a customer, keep a customer” is the basis for this relationship-based business, according to Bryant and Gibson. “Selling products and services is not our goal,” Bryant says. “Successful gardening with satisfied customers fulfills our mission.” General manager Jon Merrill agrees. “We cultivate customer service through the GS3 System: Garden Selection…Solutions…Service,” he says.
“As I reflect on 30 years in the garden center industry, I know it’s about the whole experience,” Bryant says. “Life is shaped not by what you accomplish, not by what you own, but how you build life-sustaining relationships. B.B. Barns is a place where we know your name.”
B.B. Barns is located at 3377 Sweeten Creek Road in Arden. Garden center hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Landscaping services are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To learn more, visit bbbarns.com. Therese Figura is director of business development for B.B. Barns.