Green thumbs gathered on Chicago’s Navy Pier for a look at new products in the lawn and garden category Aug. 15-17 at the annual Independent Garden Center Show (IGC).
Independent garden center operators and home improvement industry members learned about new products and spoke with vendors at the event, which featured everything from outdoor decorating to the latest in lawn and garden care chemicals and products. Seminars on a variety of topics were conducted through the duration of the show.
For many retailers, attending IGC is just as much about their fellow industry members as the new technology and products available to view. The seminars, ranging from online marketing tips to lessons on decreasing shrink losses, allowed attendees to learn from other retailers’ stories and ideas.
Kelly Bergquist, patio buyer and third-generation family member at Green Thumb Nursery, sees the show as more than a buying expedition for her family’s business. Green Thumb Nursery currently has five locations in Southern California, and Bergquist says each has its own market and customer demographic. For her, each demographic plays into her buying decisions and how employees view their fellow retailers around the show.
“Since we have different locations that serve different customers, we’re always looking for similar retailers and garden centers that serve similar demographics,” Bergquist says. “I always try to keep an open mind when we’re talking to other store owners because not everyone likes the things I like.”
The move toward smaller plots and urban gardening is apparent in the design choices being introduced, Bergquist says. “You’re seeing more modern ideas, grays and whites when you’re more used to seeing wilderness themes, hues of green and brown.”
While colors may have changed at the IGC Show, green was still readily available. Deidre Berthelot, owner of D’s Garden Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was looking for more organic options for customers.
“We’ve learned a lot on this trip, just by interacting with other retailers and realizing we’re all having the same issues,” she says. “We knew we wanted more organic products, and we’ve found plenty that fit that category.”