It may not be Filene’s Basement or Black Friday, but the stakes are just as high. I’m talking about the garden center clearance rack at the nearest big-box-home-improvement store. It’s generally tucked away in one dark corner or another, quarantined from the healthy, robust plants, well out of sight of shoppers willing to pay full price for instant gratification.
That’s fine by me. I’m a novice gardener with a large backyard to transform on a minimal budget. I’ve got all the patience a $1.00 plant on death’s door can buy.
Contrary to the usual perceptions about clearance-rack-junkies, it’s also where I’ve met some of the nicest darn people. It’s unlike any other big-box experience I’ve ever had. People don’t push, shove, cut you off with their carts or elbow you out of the way.
Maybe it’s all the extra oxygen, Vitamin D and microbes they absorb while working the soil. Maybe it’s the endorphins. Maybe it’s the chlorophyll effect. Maybe they have a slight case of dehydration-induced-heat-stroke and are just addled enough to forget that clearance rack shopping has always been a roller-derby-caliber sporting event.
Or maybe, dare I say, they’re just decent human beings. Based on all the negative news lately, I thought they were all but extinct.
Check it out for yourself sometime. Next time you have an hour to kill, head for the nearest big-box garden center, grab a cart and take a lap or two around the displays loaded with unnaturally vibrant, blooming plants. They’re strange exotic creatures, so don’t be fooled by their post-greenhouse, synthetic-fertilizer, trucked-in-that-morning, frequently-misted-dewy-exuberance. It’s like a spray tan after an eight-hour appointment at the day spa. That glow ain’t gonna last. But none of that matters. Pick up a few plants at different tables and pretend to read the labels. Raise your eyebrows slightly at the prices. If it makes you feel better about the sociological experiment you are conducting, place one or two full-price pots in your cart as decoys. Now scan the surrounding aisles and map out a strategy.
If there are any other shoppers in your line of sight, especially any that are shopping without really shopping, observe them closely. Note their body language. When they finally work up the nerve to proceed slowly toward the clearance rack, beat them to it.
I guarantee you, no matter what amazing find awaits them on that rack, no matter the steepness of the discount, if they even think you saw it first, they will not, I repeat, they just simply will not, nudge you aside or reach around you to snatch that 75% off retail Meyer Lemon.
75% off a Meyer!
Never mind that it only has three leaves. Never mind that those leaves are dangling like wilted lettuce, and have turned from a lovely shade of key-lime-pie into jaundiced-mustard.
Be warned, clearance-rack-junkies have a 99% higher incidence of Green-Thumb-Resurrection-Syndrome. They may not have invented the phrase root-hardy, but they take it to a whole new level.
The nearly-dead or un-dead don’t faze them. They’re ready for the apocalypse. Bring it on.
So now that you’re standing there holding a zombie lemon, I hope there’s two of them on the rack. That way both you and your test subject can walk away happy.
And remember, there’s no need to apologize to the cashier for changing your mind on the decoys.
She had you pegged as a Green-Thumb-Resurrection-er from the moment you walked in.
When two of the three remaining leaves fall off on the counter while you’re paying, and she smirks, “Really getting your money’s worth today.”
Just smile big, show lots of teeth, and ask, “How do you take your lemonade. Tart or sweet?”
The Meyer today…
This year’s harvest …
♥ ♥ ♥