Escape from Sunnyville


If you leave Iris to go talk to Gus, she’ll wait for you.  No matter
how many times you go away, she’ll always greet you when you return
with: "Well hello! It’s nice to see you again! Did you know that the
word Iris means rainbow in Greek? Isn’t that interesting?  So.  Did you
have something you wanted to ask me?"

Uh…sure, Iris.  What can you tell me about…uh…trees and shrubs?

"I love trees.  They give so much to us and ask so little in return.  They’re like Gus that way."

Hmmm.  Well, that Gus does seem like a nice guy.  So, Iris, what about flowers?

"I find it’s best to plant flowers on a cool or cloudy day…The early morning is the most peaceful time to do it."

Mostly I just sat and watched Iris standing alone at the edge of her
flower bed, looking down at the trowel in her hands (ash wood handle,
$2.98) and back up at me, waiting for me to ‘ask’ another question.
She looked lonely, a sad, isolated little animated character dropped into a
sterile suburban backyard and given an inadequate three-dollar tool
with which to plant her insipid little garden. 

Is this Lowe’s vision for us?  Exactly who do they think their customer
is?  What kind of person would actually enjoy this, would actually
voluntarily visit this site and listen to Gus or Iris offer to answer
their ‘questions’?  Why is it that even in an animated fantasy world, Iris’ garden is such a miserly little un-garden-like thing?

I’m not buying it.  Or watching it.  Neither should you.  In fact, I’m sorry I brought it up.  Won’t happen again.  Whatever you do, don’t go to Sunnyville.


  1. that is just evil, Amy! Telling us about this then telling us not to check it out! what the heck am i suppose to do now? HA

    maybe they are marketing to the younger kids in hopes they’ll bother their parents into going to L’s? Sorta like the Cereal marketing?

  2. i’m very interested in what people have to say about sunnyville. it has a very “the sims” feel to it, and obviously was put together with a lot of care and technical wizardry. the vibe of the site might be appealing only to those who are into “the sims”, i don’t know. i’m impressed with the site, personally, but i can’t say that i feel more compelled to shop at lowes. it doesn’t seem like a very effective way of doing — whatever it’s trying to do. give me recommendations on products, i guess. and it fairly slow to use (even with a broadband connection). it does seem like something different, and therefore potentially interesting, and if you have the time (perhaps at work) could be worth clicking around. i sort of like the “creepy” feel of it; call it “quirky”. 🙂 not sure if that would be enough “bang for the buck”, when so many bucks much have gone into this. i do not feel that smaller, smarter nurseries and garden centers have anything to fear from this campaign. 🙂

  3. Sorry — I went to the site. I just couldn’t stop myself. There’s no dog on the site — just a bear named Mike. And Mike has a game associated with his area. You try to keep him happy by selecting the products that he needs for particular situations — such as entertaining guests. Making him mad is actually pretty amusing.

    The site has little to no educational value, otherwise I’d think it was kind of neat, but really, it does is encourage you to buy stuff to make cookie-cutter lawns and gardens. Not a shred of environmentally friendly here either – unfortunate.

  4. Sunnyville is a great move by Lowe’s to help small independent garden centers that have real people who talk with you. It’s also designed to steer people to web sites and blogs that talk with you as if you we’re an adult.

    Why do they think that a creepy, not quite of this world feel was the way to go?

    In addition, if you don’t have a high speed internet connection the site will take forever to load.

    Seeing stuff like this from a huge mega retailer with money to burn gives me hope for the future. If this is the best they can come up with it shows that money and size does not equal quality.

  5. Isn’t that Gene Hackman as the opening narrator? And isn’t that a bear, not a dog? I’m not going to hang out with him! He’ll eat me or at least severely maul me. Christ.

    I have no many questions I feel certain these characters will never be able to answer. I’d like a shorter loading time too.

    Thanks!!! This is glorious. I wonder if Alan could make one of these with the 4 ranters as characters.

  6. What, Amy. Are you upset that Lowe’s didn’t offer you guys any freebies, as Troy-Bilt had? I think Troy-Bilt’s “Share Your Gardening Stories” site is infinitely more sophisticated.

    This is not the way to encourage people whose misfortune it is to live where they choose to –presumably, the suburbs — to experience the joys of gardening: “She looked lonely, a sad, isolated little animated character dropped into a sterile suburban backyard and given an inadequate three-dollar tool with which to plant her insipid little garden.” By the way, what is the correct dollar amount to pay for a tool that will yield an un-insipid little garden? Five dollars? Ten? Fifty? Free, from Troy-Bilt?

  7. Moe has a good line: “A lawn is not a puppy; it WILL NOT love you unconditionally.”

    And their lawn care advice is pretty reasonable–mow to three inches, never cut more than 1/3, don’t over fertilize, mulch the clippings right on the lawn, etc. This is what any mainstream, somewhat thoughtful/eco-conscious (i.e., not hardcore organic or anti-lawn) source would tell you.

    However to cut down on your water use they recommend you seed with their special drought tolerant mix, which is probably a scam.

  8. Which is not to say that I would ever again in my life spend another moment in dreadfully boring Sunnyville. Paul is right that it must have cost a fortune, and I can’t imagine how it could ever pay off.

  9. Wow, feeling some commenter love here.

    I visited the site, but got impatient with it pretty quickly. Don’t see anything that seems interesting to me. And the sound of flies buzzing around in the bear’s yard (and the bear itself) creeped me out. But I’m sure there are tons of people with enough time and lack of imagination that they might be engaged.

  10. Phew! I’ll never have to talk to real people again! Maybe one day we’ll be able to do our actual gardening through the computer and not have to step away from the computer at all!

  11. Moe’s fence doesn’t look big enough to keep ole Mike from “bearly” stepping on it and making a mess. Oh, and isn’t that neet when Gus tosses a burger over the fence to Mike? Why not give him the taste of flesh. And Iris must be on drugs with her calm airy voice and pointless drivel about what her name means in Greek–I take this to mean that gardening makes you a weak-minded patsy who is one step away from being in 1968 San Francisco. This reaffirms the fact that I don’t want neighbors.

  12. Yes, I am pretty sure that is Gene Hackman doing the intro! I reloaded it a couple times just to be sure.

    I agree that Mike the Bear is hilarious. This website was probably programmed with some weird subliminal messages to persuade us to go to the big box. Whatever, have fun!

  13. Are the comments subliminal too? Because this is so not something I’d ever check out but by the time I finished reading the comments I had to…

  14. This is HILARIOUS!!!

    Click on Iris and ask her to talk about her neighbors; then click on Gus.

    “I once helped him plant a bed of flowers and he gave me a platter of grilled meats as a thank you!”

    “I bet if we could harness Moe’s energy, we could power Sunnyville!”

    Ask Moe about Iris:

    “She used a “natural” fertilizer that made a smell like a skunk seem pleasant. I sent her down to Lowe’s, and it she been better ever since.”

    I wish I had this during the writer’s strike.

  15. I’m sorry for commenting twice but I really, really love this. It is totally bizarre. Who could they be aiming this toward? It’s really too strange for the mainstream consumer, whoever that might be.

  16. It’s funny this rant is written to tell people NOT to go to the site but in fact, it’s really just building buzz. The site is a fun experience and I give them credit for doing something different.

    And Amy, don’t be so afraid, it’s a only a website! sheesh

  17. My DSL must be slower than most because I don’t like waiting to end up with really dumb stuff. No fun here!

  18. Ugg… enough of this coprorate gardening propaganda. Does Lowes really think we are all that stupid? Sunnyville…. you have now entered the Twighlight Zone…


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