AmericanFarm.com

IGC East 2014 debut a success

By KATHY JENTZ

The brand new IGC-East show took place Aug. 5 and 7 at the Gaylord Convention Center at National Harbor, just outside of Washington, D.C. The show was aimed at independent garden center owners, managers and buyers and is an off-shoot of the annual IGC-Chicago that takes place in mid-August each year.
“I enjoyed the IGC-East show,” said Stephanie Brock, annuals specialist with Merrifield Garden Center. “It was smaller than I expected, but it is only the first year here. I think many people were scoping it out and next year will be bigger. It was nice to see some of my growers who had booths there. I saw a few vendors that were new to me and many I've seen before but featuring their new products and great displays.”
The exhibit floor included big names like Ball Horticultural Company and Bayer Advanced as well as several hundred smaller growers, suppliers and wholesalers from all around the country, especially the East Coast. The tradeshow was a mix of plant growers, gift items and retail support services.
Aside from the tradeshow floor, there was a pre-show tour of local garden centers and public gardens. There were also several educational sessions. A highlight of the show for many was the breakfast with P. Allen Smith on Wednesday morning sponsored by Proven Winners.
“I did find it useful,” commented Bobby Lewis, vice president of marketing at Meadows Farms Nurseries. “The seminars I attended were good. I did focus mainly on the marketing seminars and they were well done. I made a lot of notes and definitely picked up some things we can do, but also I think just going through the process and sitting in on the seminars ‘gets you thinking,’ so to speak, of the things we are doing and how we can improve.”
One buzzword that kept surfacing at the show was “Garden Tourism.” Tourism was touted by several speakers and retail gurus as the newest way for independent garden centers to build customer relationships and add to your store’s bottom-line. Garden tourism is a type of niche tourism involving visits or travel to public and private gardens. Stores can capitalize on this trend both by organizing garden tours themselves and also by hosting garden tour groups as one stop on their itineraries.
When asked if they would be returning to attend the show next year, several local garden center owners remarked that they would, if the location and timing remained the same.
The IGC producers have indicated, though, that the show may move to different East Coast cities each year and Boston may be the 2015 location.