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Nate Holden (Evergreen Garden Center; Peabody, MA)

"The hardest part was getting customers to not only figure out where the store was, but also what it was about," says Nate Holden. It's a surprisingly mild December afternoon in Peabody, Massachusetts, where Holden runs the Evergreen Garden Center hydroponics store.

Evergreen is part of a chain of six stores; in addition to the Peabody location there is one in Maine and four in Colorado. Holden explains the diverse locations: "The owner grew up here in Massachusetts, then bounced back and forth between here and Colorado. During one of his stays out here he earned his law degree -- yes, he is a lawyer -- and then went back to Colorado."

Holden came to Evergreen in a somewhat unusual fashion, although it started out in a normal fashion. "I answered a Craigslist ad. It started out as a regular ad, but then it listed some hard questions only an experienced hydroponics person would know. I responded with the correct answers, and was brought in to basically rebuild the place from the ground up, including lights and fixtures. We opened last October."

Holden, who has known about Kessil since they first came on the market courtesy of time spent in the San Francisco Bay Area before moving to the east coast, mentions that they are a top seller in his store not only with new customers, but with the most difficult group to deal with -- return shoppers. "Kessils outsell the thousand watt bulbs three to one," he notes. "That's strictly in-house; we don't do Internet sales. What's more, the customers that buy Kessils come back raving about them and the productivity they get from the lights. They are constantly buying more so they can expand what they're doing."

It isn't just regular customers using Kessils to good effect. "I've supplied several local schools with Kessil lights for different projects. One of them is the Advanced Math and Science Academy in Marlborough, Massachusetts. They absolutely love them and the results they get."

What does Holden tell his customers who are thinking about Kessil? " I always keep a H350 open on the counter. Whenever someone asks, I pick up the light, put a sheet of white paper on the counter, hold the light an inch above the paper and turn it on. People are amazed at its power. It's almost blinding. While the up front cost for a Kessil is more than a HID, not only do you make that back in a year and a half with your savings -- no changing bulbs, much lower power consumption -- you're getting a far superior product."