Chicago – Store buyers say they’re excited to introduce the new products they discovered from the IGC Show to their customers, and vendors are ready to do business with the quality leads they generated during the three-day event at Chicago’s Navy Pier. The industry’s 11th annual trade show and conference, the largest of its kind dedicated exclusively to independent garden centers, wrapped up on Thursday, August 17.
Thursday morning, the following products and plants were announced as winners, tallying the highest number of votes from IGC Show attendees among all the products submitted by exhibiting vendors:
- New Product Zone First Place Winner: Root Orb Plant System, Kreative Gardens, Miami, FL
- New Product Zone Second Place Winner: Potwheelz Garden Dolly, Potwheelz, Gulf Breeze, FL
- New Plant Zone First Place Winner: Regal Petticoat Maple, Sester Farms, Gresham, OR
- New Plant Zone Second Place Winner: ‘Gold Breeze’ Zebra Grass, Hortech, Spring Lake, MI
Wednesday morning’s keynote from former Navy SEAL Team Six Leader Robert O’Neill resonated with IGC Show attendees as O’Neill shared his experiences from the rigorous training and life-or-death missions as a SEAL – including shooting and killing America’s public enemy No. 1, Osama bin Laden – in order to put his driving message, “Never quit,” into perspective. “His keynote made me cry,” says Donna McGruffin, owner of The Rose Garden in Wetumpka, Ala. “I’m on fire right now – really pumped up. It changed my whole attitude about a lot of things.”
Participation from indie garden center retailers at the IGC Show was strong across the board. Just days before the show started, event officials announced they added a fifth bus to Monday’s store tour to accommodate a surge in demand. In addition, advance registration for the IGC Retailer Conference was up 43 percent from last year, with still more people from Tuesday morning’s free sampler session registering on-site.
In addition to the interactive conference sessions, garden center retailers gathered in the IGC Networking Lounge on the show floor to swap ideas in “Shop Talk” Retail Discussions. Tuesday’s facilitated chat on drawing more Millennials was the most popular of all the retail discussions, drawing more than 35 to gather and share what works – and what doesn’t – for them. The networking carried into Tuesday evening at the Opening Night Party, where classic rockers Blue Öyster Cult performed their iconic hits live.
As plans get under way for next summer’s event, IGC Show co-founder Jeff Morey says, “The IGC Show really is the industry’s central event. There’s nothing as moving for Cheryl and I than to see everyone in our amazing industry come together for three days of discovery, knowledge, networking and fun.”
“This year was our first time at the IGC Show. We wrote a lot of orders on-site, some with show specials of 10 percent off and more,” says Chad Stephens of Phil’s Lawn, Landscaping & Nursery in Denison, Iowa.
“All of our staff loves the IGC Show. There are so many product knowledge opportunities. We appreciate the chance to meet the vendors personally and ask questions,” says Nathan Herman, general manager of retail operations at Chalet in Wilmette, Ill.
“We’re always looking for the next niche, and the IGC Show is the place to find it. We go each year to look for new things coming down the pike before anyone else gets a hold of them. We find so many new vendors,” says Peter Mayeux, owner of All Seasons Nursery & Landscaping in Lafayette, La.
“This was our first time exhibiting at the IGC Show, and it was a busy few days. We were able to meet new customers. We received orders and a lot of good leads that we can look forward to in the near future. We’re looking forward to coming back next year,” says Johnny Lin, general manager of King-Max Products in Hayward, Calif.
“This year at the IGC Show went very well for us. The quality of leads is so important, and they are excellent. At the IGC Show, you know you’re having real conversations with the right people. It’s not just people looking for handouts - it’s the right place to be,” says Gary Eaton, second generation co-owner of Eaton Farms in Leesport, Penn.
“I’ve been exhibiting at the IGC Show for four years. We always have a lot of interest from buyers at the show, and we’ve written orders this year on-site. We’ve seen a good amount of new buyer generations here. This is a great show – it’s very targeted, and everyone is a qualified buyer,” says Jay Chen, sales account executive and marketing coordinator of Top Land Trading in Bellingham, Wash.
IGC Show returns to Chicago’s Navy Pier next summer, August 14-16, 2018. Watch for more details in the months ahead, and check out photos from this year’s trade show and conference here: www.facebook.com/igcshow
Photo courtesy of the IGC Show.