BeyondFountains (the blog)

Jennifer Khal
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Sunday Morning, April 15 - This morning before work I was feeling extremely pensive. I was thinking back to when we were first opening The Secret Garden in early 2002 and our son (only 9 at the time) wanted to know how we were going to make a living selling things nobody needed. (He always was an intelligent and thoughtful child and I'm sure we'd had many a discussion explaining the difference between needing and wanting). And then my brain fast forwarded to the past few weeks when I've watched our store come alive with Spring color and with the heavy traffic of people through our gates. I'm specifically remembering the lady who came in this last week to find a little something to celebrate her "cancer free" diagnosis just that morning. She said she knew she had to come here. Then there was the man who came in because he was missing his late wife and he wanted to walk through her favorite store to "feel her here". I'm remembering the young couple that got engaged during one of our succulent events because that's her favorite hobby. I'm thinking of the daughter, the mom and the grandmother who came in to have a playdate together at one of our workshops. These customers come to The Secret Garden because it a place of beauty, of nurturing, of positive energy that they need at that moment.  So all this to say, that I'm feeling grateful that we have indeed created a business that does have something that people NEED. I'm thankful to my husband who works tirelessly beside me to maintain it. I'm thankful to our amazing team of employees who strive to deliver that extra something special every day. And I'm thankful to our clientele for continuing to support us. Our motto has always been "So Much More Than a Garden Store" and I'm feeling this morning that we've lived up to that.  Thanks for letting me ramble.... jennifer
Jennifer Khal
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As small business owners there is no shortage of grand ideas and plans. Trust me when I tell you that my lists have lists. It's true. Ask anyone who knows me and they will attest to me always having a notebook and a pen in hand, adding to or crossing off my list du jour. I'm lucky in that I get to do this business with my husband of 34 years. Call us crazy, but it works. One of the things that helps in deciding which ideas to pursue and which to leave on the drawing table is to ask three questions - What? How? and Why? It's actually a terrific method for deciding lots of things, both personal and professional. Take our decision to offer our already very successful in-house workshop series out on the road.  What? Offer our attendees an opportunity to learn something new, make something fun and enjoy food and adult beverage at the same time. How? It seemed rather a natural to partner up with other local business owners to the benefit of both businesses. We offer our customers an opportunity to be entertained and engaged in an activity while enjoying a cocktail and maybe a bite to eat. The food and beverage venue gets new clients who may have not otherwise frequented their establishment. Why? This is where the answers get longer because there are just so many "why"s! 1) How many times have you looked at your partner and discussed "doing something" but didn't just want to go to a movie or out to dinner again. Our workshops have always offered something new to do, but by taking them out on the road, our attendees can enjoy a cold beer or a glass of wine at the same time. Couples can hang out and experience a grown up "play date". 2) Partnering with other small businesses is for the common good. We have always had a philosophy at The Secret Garden to join up with others whenever possible. If we don't all stick together and help each other out, who will?  If small business doesn't succeed, then all we're all left with is Costco, Walmart and the likes. And while my family will certainly no doubt shop at both of those places several times this year, is that the only choice I want? Definitely NOT! 3) Being around plants is healing. Literally. Science has proven again and again that just having your hands in the soil is actually beneficial for your health. Having plants in your life reduces stress, improves your air quality, helps you sleep better, improves concentration, etc etc etc. Now I know these facts already and well, let's just say that the last time I watered my houseplants I counted 42!  Maya Angelou was quoted as saying "When you get, give. When you learn, teach". I take that second part quite seriously. By taking our workshops on the road, we will be reaching more people. By making the workshops fun and engaging (with a nice cold beer) we'll get some involved that otherwise wouldn't have attended. By helping people learn more about plants and how to care for them properly, then they can be successful in caring for their plants. Then maybe they will continue to expand their knowledge and in turn help others see the value and importance of having plants in their lives. I know it's a lot. But that's the major "Why". Because Plants Heal and because I'm saddened every time I hear someone say "I have a black thumb and I can't keep anything alive". So we're taking our show on the road, as they say. Terrarium Nites and Suds & Succulents events will be popping up in restaurants, breweries and wineries near you. So keep your eyes open and watch us bring "plant shenanigans"** to people all over town.   See you soon, Jennifer ** fabulous term borrowed from my friend Warren Keller at Warrens Garden in Lompoc.
Last night, as I was looking for an email someone said they sent me, I wandered into my SPAM folder. There, among the sales pitches, I saw an email from the KCRA A-List Contest. It's been a very busy Spring. I had not even realized that the contest was underway. I followed the links and soon realized that without any fanfare or participation on my part, The Secret Garden was sitting in 11th place out of 32 contestants. Not bad, but not where I wanted to stay. I tend to be a little competitive. I like to be liked. Heck, I'll admit it, I like to win! So I copied the link to the voting platform and posted a note on our Secret Garden Facebook wall asking for help getting me in the top 3. I watched a few people respond with a "Like" and a few made comments that they had voted. Awesome! When I woke up this morning I was impressed and thankful for my social media followers that they had indeed voted and pushed me up to 2nd PLACE! Wow! Double Awesome!! All a silly game? Definitely not! Back in 2007 when this A-List Contest started we placed 3rd out of 10 entries. In 2008 and 2009 we placed FIRST with 18 contestants. The most important part of winning wasn't the certificate (although that's fun to have). No, the MOST IMPORTANT thing was how it drove our web site up higher in search engine results. A little mom and pop store like ours doesn't have the big budget to run ads that place you on top of the search engine page and our web site did not have the traffic history to get to page one in a search organically. BUT, by being part of KCRA's page, and being recognized as #1, well that made a HUGE difference.   Ten years later there are 32 contestants. My original goal yesterday was to end up in the top 3. Today, after looking at the numbers that I'm privy to as a contestant, I see I only need 51 more votes to move into 1st Place.......  51 votes!.......... I have 3900+ customers that receive emails. I have 2900+ Facebook fans, I have 1200+ Instagram followers........Imagine the possibilities.....Do you remember what I said about being a little competitive? We're not talking about needing 1000's of votes. We're talking about needing maybe 100. Please don't rely on the other customer to vote. I NEED YOUR VOTE! And so I ask you....Would you be willing to do your part to support a local, small business by spending a few minutes voting for The Secret Garden in this year's KCRA A List Competition?  And if you do decide to help us out, would you please also leave a comment about what you like about our store as well. It's one thing when I say something in print. It's 100 times more effective when YOU say something about us in print. Maybe you enjoyed taking a class, or attending a special event. Or maybe your daughter was here for a Girl Scout outing or your family found their Christmas tree here. Whatever good memory you have, we'd love for you to share. I can't thank you enough for your help. Click here to cast your vote: Remember, it takes a village to support a small business. You're my village! Jennifer

The Secret Garden

8450 West Stockton Blvd
Elk Grove, CA 95758

Phone: 916-682-6839



10a-5p Sun/Mon

10a-6p Tues-Sat


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