August 4, 2011, 9:14 AM

Garden Gates breaks out of the gate

The Second 500 retailer is cultivating a crop of new web sites.

Lead Photo

In Metairie, LA, wife-and-husband team Beth and Chad Harris say they’re building on their success with TheGardenGates.com by launching more than a dozen new sites focusing on niche areas of home furnishings, garden supplies, apparel and jewelry.

“We’re trying to bring the specialty-store model of the bricks-and-mortar world to the web,” says Chad Harris.

The Garden Gates, which has 35 employees and is No. 983 in the Internet Retailer Second 500 Guide, sells products ranging from furniture and bed linens to apparel and jewelry in a physical store in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, as well as on its flagship e-commerce site, TheGardenGates.com.

But the Harrises, like many of the retailers in the Second 500, have plans to go much further in online retailing. They own 380 domain names. And though they haven’t said yet how they might use them all, they recently launched 14 niche sites, for a total of 15 e-commerce sites in all.

Some of the new sites focus on certain products offered on TheGardenGates.com, launching with such names as DecorativeMossBalls.com, TheCustomLinenStore.com, SummertimeBackyard.com and TotallyZenFrog.com. Other new sites offer broader product lines but focus on particular metropolitan areas, including GardenCentersofSanDiego.com, GardenCentersofChicago.com and GardenCentersofHouston.com.

The retailer also designs and produces some of its own products, and recently opened a 13,000-square-foot distribution facility to fulfill orders for those items. “I have my hands full chasing after the Internet customer,” Harris says.

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