From Aug. 14-16, thousands of vendors and retailers from a variety of independent retail backgrounds gathered to attend educational events, network with others and discover the latest products in the lawn and garden category at the Independent Garden Center Show (IGC) at Chicago’s Navy Pier.
The IGC Show has been held in Chicago for the past 12 years, establishing its roots and growing into a must-attend event for independent garden center retailers, in addition to independent hardware and home improvement retailers.
While the IGC Show was primarily designed for independent garden center retailers, the audience in the hardware and home improvement industry mesh well together, says attendee Sara Carpenter, vice president of operations for Steve’s Ace Home & Garden in Dubuque, Iowa.
“We’ve attended the IGC Show 11 out of the 12 years,” Carpenter says. “And as the independent garden center industry changes and the independent hardware industry changes, the two seem to be very complimentary.”
Interesting Keynotes and Educational Offerings at Independent Garden Center Show
This year, attendees of the IGC Show had chance to not only discover new products and great deals, but they also gained knowledge and inspiration from a wide range of successful individuals through keynote presentations and seminars.
Keynote speakers across the three days of the show included Charlie Hall, professor and Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M University; Daymond John, founder of the clothing brand FUBU and a popular “shark” on the ABC show ‘Shark Tank‘; and Bob Negen, retail consultant.
John, who spoke on Wednesday at 9 a.m., drew a large crowd, and Carpenter says having a entrepreneur from outside of the garden and home improvement industry brought a unique perspective to his keynote.
“Our entire team that came to the show was excited to see Daymond John from ‘Shark Tank’ speak,” Carpenter says. “We found him very engaging, and he had such an cool story. In our business, I think it’s important to learn from those outside of our comfort zone and what we know.”
In addition to the keynote speakers, the IGC Show had a plethora of continuing educational sessions that people could attend. The sessions covered five different tracks to help retailers step up their game, including how to profit with grab and go containers; focusing on online commerce to build store traffic; garden center renovations; achieving media coverage and a focus on boosting sales for profits.
For Jenna Simon, marketing coordinator at Prairie Gardens in Champaign, Illinois, attending the show gives her and her colleagues the opportunity to learn something new or focus on something they want to try.
“Most of my time at the IGC Show is spent attending the educational sessions,” Simon says. “It’s a great way reenergize our team and get us excited to try something new or approach something in a new way.”
For Carpenter, the show has been extremely valuable for its educational offerings.
“The IGC Show offers phenomenal programming for educational sessions, which is something we feel justifies us attending the show every year,” Carpenter says.
Unique Products Grab Attention
Outside of speakers and educational sessions, attendees browse the showfloor for the latest and greatest products to hit the garden market. Popular products at the show included organic gardening solutions, hydroponic gardening, fairy garden pieces, unique giftware items and more.
“What we really appreciate about this show is that we can find fun, quirky products we likely wouldn’t find at our co-op’s show,” Carpenter says.
To give retailers a chance to discover new products, the event has a separate area outside of the main showfloor called the IGC Product Showcase. The products and plants that are highlighted in this area were on display and then attendees could place their votes on their favorites, with the winners recognized on the final day of the show and featured in IGC Magazine’s ‘Best of Show’ issue.
Stay tuned to Hardware Retailing’s website for a deeper look at the unique products and trends on display at the show.