Buyers, importers, international sourcing agents and the top players of the global garden and outdoor living industry come together at spoga+gafa in Cologne, Germany, every year. See the trends that come from the world’s largest lawn and garden trade fair, September 6-8.
Hardware Retailing talked to Leslie Fleck, spoga+gafa’s North American VIP visitor manager about the details and why it’s a crucial show for North American retailers who want to put their best foot forward in lawn and garden.
Hardware Retailing (HR): What is special about spoga+gafa? Why is it worth a visit?
Leslie Fleck (LF): spoga+gafa is a must-visit show for many reasons. There are 11 exhibition halls, over 2.4 million square feet of global vendors to source from. With more than 2,100 exhibitors from over 61 countries, it is a great place to find unique items your competition might not have.
For retailers who are looking for the next big thing in outdoor living, the Garden BBQ exhibition is the place to find it. This segment of the show covers two exhibition halls and extends outside, where attendees can taste test and meet with grilling vendors from all over the world.
HR: What sectors does the spoga+gafa trade show cover?
LF: The show is divided into four sectors: Garden BBQ, Garden Creation & Care, Garden Unique and Garden Living. Visitors can source from many different areas; outdoor furniture, garden equipment, accessories, tools, games and camping and much more. There is also a boulevard of ideas as well as a mega trend. In 2020, the trend at the show is sustainable gardening.
HR: What can we expect as this year’s mega trend?
LF: spoga+gafa tries to be the industry leader when it comes to exhibitors and also the trendsetter when it comes to supporting programs and visitor needs.
Our 2020 mega trend focuses on sustainable gardening. The focal theme provides various events, lectures and special exhibition areas and will demonstrate how a garden can be designed in a resource-saving and eco-friendly manner. The event program will focus on current trends in sustainability of the garden and plant world and how technology can assist in reaching sustainable goals. Visitors can expect highlights and diversified events, customized product shows, novelty concepts, and expert discussions (with simultaneous interpreting into English).
HR: What buyers are attending the show? Is it only for big names who can buy in bulk?
LF: There are many types and sizes of buying sources attending spoga+gafa. Of course some of the big retailers, such as Walmart, Lowe’s and similar companies attend the show, but many smaller retailers and importers use this unique opportunity to source the sector. If anyone needs assistance in shipping smaller amounts of merchandise, we also work with logistics companies who offer consolidated shipping back to North America. No matter if a visitor owns one store or thousands, the diverse product offering, future trends, inspiration and the international networking opportunities make a visit to spoga+gafa worthwhile.
HR: What kind of VIP service do you offer for North American buyers coming to spoga+gafa?
LF: Our VIP Buyer Program includes pre-show and on-site benefits, such as free admission, VIP lounge access, exclusive VIP activities, matchmaking, language translation assistance, travel assistance, free coat check, as well as catalog and public transportation vouchers. We also organize VIP activities after the show closes, including meet and greet events, store visits, sightseeing tours and more. We can also organize customized programs for groups.
HR: Can you provide flight and hotel information—how do you best get to Cologne, Germany?
LF: We assist with travel logistics and also work with a U.S.-based travel partner that has pre-booked rooms in Cologne. While hotels in Cologne can sell out fast, there is always the option to commute from one of the neighboring towns. The local public transportation system is outstanding, and the admission ticket covers free public transportation during the show. Many visitors fly into Frankfurt directly from North America and take the fast train from the airport to Cologne. It takes about an hour—the train’s speed is over 185 mph! Other airport options include Amsterdam, which is two hours away, or smaller airports, such as Duesseldorf or Koeln/Bonn.
Since the spoga+gafa show is always around the U.S. Labor Day weekend, many international visitors bring their families and add a vacation weekend to their visit.
HR: What is the average time North American buyers spend at spoga+gafa?
LF: On average buyers spend 2-3 days at the show. Due to the size of the Koelnmesse convention center, it takes a few days to see everything at the show, have meetings with suppliers and network.
HR: How can buyers receive more information and sign up for their free VIP buyer tickets?
LF: All North American visitors can contact me directly via email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 708-967-2035. To find out more about the next show edition, exhibitors and events please also visit spogagafa.com