By Therese Figura
Asheville’s B.B. Barns was founded in 1988 when 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 inspired Gibson to join him in the business venture. The two have been successful partners in the creation of a destination garden, gift and landscape services company ever since. Today, Barney owns the retail operation while Ned owns the landscape services division.
This year the company celebrates 32 years of success. That 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 our team. The team has a shared vision and mission of winning together in a ‘we’ culture and carries the mission forward through effective communication, sincere friendships and trust, driving the team to meet the customer where the customer is.”
Bryant and Gibson attribute their longevity to the experience their employees provide for the customer, who is welcomed to the garden center six days a week year-round. A visit to B.B. Barns is a memorable experience that motivates 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 specimen plants that thrive in the WNC mountains. B.B. Barns offers outdoor living services integrating creative landscape and hardscape designs through its certified landscape services. Many times, customers desire an onsite consultation at their home or business. Garden coach Cinthia Milner will meet a customer by appointment at an hourly rate. Brenna Henley, the container gardening designer, will also meet with clients for an onsite consultation on container design and installation.
Customers have dubbed B.B. Barns “the floral spa of Asheville.” The garden center can meet all outdoor living, indoor décor and holiday decorating needs as customers create spaces to enhance their quality of living.
Keeping the mission and goals foremost is the daily challenge Team B.B. Barns maintains. The mission is: To fulfill the needs of customers through relationship building. Bryant and Gibson agree the way to accomplish this is to have employees who are experts in horticulture and who are empowered to graciously serve each customer to their fullest satisfaction. “Get a customer. Keep a customer,” is the basis for their business, say Bryant and Gibson. “Selling products and services is not our goal,” Bryant says. “Successful gardening with satisfied customers is the daily goal.” Operations manager Jon Merrill agrees.
“We cultivate customer service through the GS3 system: garden selection; solutions; service,” he says.
“As I reflect on 32 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 everyone knows your name!”
B.B. Barns is located at 3377 Sweeten Creek Road, Arden. Garden center hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday year-round. 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.