The 2019 Independent Garden Center Show (IGC Show) landed in McCormick Place in Chicago this week, which was a new venue for the event. To coincide with the new location, the IGC Show featured additional programming from the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and the Independent Home Improvement Show presented by the National Hardware Show®, which each co-located events at the IGC Show.
Retailer attendees used the crossover events as an opportunity to expand their product research opportunities and enhance networking across the three-day event.
On the Show Floor
Garden center retailers from across the country scoured the venue for the latest trends for the lawn and garden category. They discovered a variety of planters, garden accessories and eco-friendly solutions for their customers who are on the lookout for chemical treatments that make less of an impact on the environment and are bee-friendly, hardy plants that freshen indoor spaces and tools that solve their customers’ lawn and garden challenges.
First-time attendee Greg Peterson, garden center manager at Crest Hardware and Urban Garden Center in Brooklyn, New York, says the show was laid out well and it was a good size. He and his colleague were able to make a first pass around the show floor the first day. On the second and third days, they were able to double back to vendors they wanted to learn more from, and they took time to attend educational sessions.
“My advice for for people who are coming for the first time is to walk slowly. Don’t just breeze past things,” Peterson says. “You don’t know what that next booth might be, so it’s important to keep an open mind to what’s there. It’s also important to take breaks to attend talks and pace yourself.”
In between visiting booths and talking to vendors, attendees had several opportunities throughout the day to stop into continuing education seminars on some of the industry’s hottest topics. From container gardening and how to sell houseplants to hiring and sales best practices, attendees had access to a variety of additional educational opportunities to break up their days.
“We like coming to this event for the educational opportunities,” says Ben Dunigan, manager of Best Feeds Garden Center in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania. “We can take back things to our operation and implement it.”
On the show floor, attendees had the chance to vote for their favorite new products, some of which were featured in the New Product Zone and the New Plant Zone. That space highlighted dozens of new products and new vendors all in one area. Retailers were encouraged to vote for their favorites, and the winners were announced prior to the keynote presentation on Thursday.
Some of this year’s winners included air plants, specialized soil and soy candles.
New this year, NRHA and the National Hardware Show co-located events right on the IGC Show floor to complement the lawn and garden focus. The National Hardware Show launched the first Independent Home Improvement Show, an event dedicated entirely to independent home improvement retailers. The combination event was a hit for independent lawn and garden retailers who also sell hardware supplies to customers.
“We appreciate the opportunity this year to network with retailers who aren’t our direct competitors, to talk about what works,” Dunigan says. “We compete in our area with other garden centers, but big boxes are our primary competitors, so getting insights from the hardware side is helpful.”
The Independent Home Improvement Show featured vendors across several hardlines categories that are eager to enter into the independent channel. The show presented them an opportunity to put their brands in front of retailers who work in different spaces.