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Retailers Talk Lawn and Garden Trends at NRHA IGC Event

The 2019 Independent Garden Center Show (IGC Show) landed in Chicago yesterday, and this year, there was even more activity on the show floor.

Three additional events were co-located at this year’s IGC Show, including two from the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA). The National Hardware Show® co-located the first annual Independent Home Improvement Show to offer attendees an even broader array of new products to explore.

The first NRHA event was the 2019 State of Independents Midyear Review, which was inspired by the association’s annual State of Independents Conference. NRHA executive vice president and Hardware Retailing executive editor Dan Tratensek delivered new data about the state of the independent home improvement industry at the midyear point.

Tratensek also moderated a panel discussion with three retailers who were attending the IGC Show. Leigh Ann Akard of Akard True Value in Zionsville, Indiana; Sara Carpenter of Steve’s Ace Hardware in Dubuque, Iowa; and Gino Pitera of Gertens in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, took the stage to talk about the trends they see in lawn and garden and how they differentiate their operations.

“We have gotten heavy into impulse items that our customers can’t find online. Every time they come into the store, we want them to see something different,” Akard says. “Our impulse category is tied into the garden center.”

At Gertens, which comprises a dedicated greenhouse and garden center, Pitera says they have seen more young people who are new homeowners focus on backyard living, and they need independents’ help to personalize their outdoor living spaces because it’s difficult for them to find professionals who will undertake small projects.

“Young DIYers are taking on smaller weekend projects themselves because professional landscapers are too costly to come out to put in a few plants,” Pitera says. “They are getting into basic gardening, growing vegetables and putting in perennials.”

Looking ahead, Carpenter says she expects to see a bigger market for environmentally friendly lawn and garden treatments, like fertilizer and pesticides.

“How our customers want to use chemicals is changing how we do things,” she says. “We want to be a solution-based industry and give our customers options that we know are going to work.”

The IGC Show continues today, along with the Independent Home Improvement Show and more programming from NRHA. The 2019 NRHA STIHL Foundations of Leadership Conference features presentations from course instructors of the NRHA Retail Management Certification Program.

Check back with Hardware Retailing soon for a recap from today’s events and more highlights from the IGC Show floor.

About Melanie Moul

Melanie Moul
Melanie is the features editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. Originally from South Bend, Indiana, has a degree in professional writing. She worked in central Pennsylvania for several years after college as a barista and an editor and returned to the Hoosier State in late 2016 to join the NRHA team. In her spare time, she enjoys testing new recipes and watching online makeup tutorials. She and her husband are raising their son and two fur children in Indianapolis.

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