Market Buzz

Departments - Marketplace News

May 3, 2013

2013 National Lawn & Garden Show set for June

The 19th annual National Lawn & Garden Show is set for June 11-13, 2013, in Chicago.

For the past 18 years, the National Lawn & Garden Show has designed an exclusive industry buying event, pairing buyers and vendors face-to-face in preset, scheduled appointments, according to a news release from NLGS.

“Our sole mission since 1995 has been to provide an affordable, efficient alternative to traditional tradeshows, which assures buyer/vendor introductions in preset scheduled appointments,” said Bob Mikulas, president and founder.

More than 6,000 face-to-face appointments took place in less than three days between buyers and vendors of the lawn, garden and pet industries during the 2012 event.

Buyers are matched with vendors based on common product interests, resulting in thousands of appointments. Appointments are exclusive and open to qualified decision-making buyers and vendors.

The event is known for bringing in the mid tier buyers who represent 90 percent of the merchandising opportunities in the U.S. Historically, NLGS has hosted 14 out of the top 20 U.S. Lawn & Garden retailers annually at the event.

The 2013 NLGS event will be held at the Crowne Plaza O’Hare.

For more information and to register, visit

Lawn Show photo: Kaia Sailor

Website helps consumers choose impatiens alternatives

From Michigan State University Extension: As a grower or retailer, you are well aware of downy mildew that became widespread in Michigan landscapes last year (2012). But what can you tell your consumers? Michigan State University Extension has developed Alternatives to Impatiens, a consumer-friendly website that briefly explains the potential problems with impatiens plantings and gives a whole host of alternatives to impatiens.

The website is offered in two formats: a traditional website and a mobile-optimized website. In addition, the mobile-optimized website can be accessed by scanning a QR code.

For more information, visit

Sidney B. Meadows scholarship available for horticulture students

Students pursuing a career in horticulture can now apply for the Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship, which expects to award at least 12, $1,500 academic scholarships.

The Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship Endowment Fund was created in 1989 by the Southern Nursery Association, and scholarships are available to college juniors, seniors and graduate students in 16 southeastern states — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. During the past 24 years, the endowment fund has awarded $390,000 in scholarships, according to the scholarship program’s website.

The scholarship is dedicated to the late Sidney B. Meadows, “one of the most honored horticultural leaders, who has been described as one of the industry’s great humanitarians.”

“Meadows was an avid supporter of student scholarships and believed that providing aid for students was the most important way to ensure the growth and development of all facets of the industry,” according to the website.

Students have until May 31, 2013, to apply.

For more information about eligibility and to apply, visit

Valleybrook Gardens hosting tour of Australia for green industry professionals

For more than a decade, Valleybrook Gardens, which has facilities in British Columbia and Ontario, Canada, has organized tours at nurseries, garden centers and botanic gardens around the world. This year, owners John and Kelly Schroeder are planning a two-week trip to the land down under.

“Travel is one of the things that I really enjoy doing. I love to see different parts of the world, and I love to experience new things,” John Schroeder says. “There is so much you can learn from the way people do things in other countries.”

The Schroeders started the tours in 2001 and have been to a variety of places, from Chile to Italy to Japan to New Zealand.

Each year, they invite horticultural industry professionals such as owners of nurseries, garden centers or landscape design companies to join, and usually they have a dozen or more people sign up.

John Schroeder said there are still spots available for this year’s trip to Australia, set for Oct. 21 to Nov. 2, 2013. The couple organizes the tours and lodging each year (attendees book their own travel to get there) and the 2013 tour includes stops in Sydney, Melbourne, the Blue Mountains, Tasmania and the Yarra Valley wine region.

“Australia is such a cool, iconic destination. I’m just excited to finally be able to get there,” Schroeder said. “We travel a lot. A lot of that time is on our own, but some of the most fun and memorable travel experiences I’ve had have been these groups.”

To find out more details about the trip, visit the Valleybrook website, contact John Schroeder at 800 824-1120 or


Selling the story

In the Dec. 28, 2012, podcast episode of “Social Media Marketing with Michael Stelzner,” Dave Kerpen shared the story of how his company Likeable Media was founded. He explained how he and his wife used their marketing backgrounds to fund their huge wedding on the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball field by getting sponsors for everything, from the flowers to the alcohol to even the wedding dress. The wedding was such a success for the vendors that it led to the Kerpens launching their own company.

It’s a story that catches attention, particularly from potential clients looking for exposure. This is why Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner, interviewed Kerpen for this particular episode titled “Storytelling: Why Stories Attract More Customers.”

“We love to be engaged by stories,” Kerpen tells Stelzner, explaining that it’s more effective than any sales pitch because it connects people. The key to storytelling, though, is using it to show that you’re able to solve people’s problems, especially when it comes to sharing a story through social media. Kerpen says that in Likeable Media’s case, their story shows prospects that they know how to be creative.

“Just because you understand the tools of social media or the tools of radio or the tools of television doesn’t mean the idea isn’t just as important as it’s always been,” he says in the podcast.

But thanks to social media, it’s easy to get your story out there, and it’s possible to have it exposed to a large audience. Kerpen gives the example of Dave Carroll’s YouTube video titled “United Breaks Guitars,” which tells the story of how United Airlines broke the musician’s Taylor guitar. The 4-minute music video currently has almost 13 million views.

So how do you use the tools of storytelling to bring in more business? Stelzner asked Kerpen for a simple action item business owners can take. Kerpen suggests that people write down whatever they think their story is. Then share that story with someone you trust, and start talking about how you can craft it into a better story. By doing this exercise, you’ll soon have a better story to tell, he says.

To learn about what makes a good story and how to cross over from storytelling to selling and more, check out Stelzner’s podcast at

Roots & Blooms garden center opens in Kirkwood, Missouri

The name of Jenniffer Elliott’s garden center, Roots & Blooms, stems from her desire to establish “roots” in her community of Kirkwood, Mo.

After working in the garden center industry for more than 20 years, she decided it was time to open her own shop.

The store, which opened March 22, sits on three quarters of an acre and is 1,500 square feet.

Elliott said she strives to offer a unique mix of trees, shrubs and perennials, colorful annuals and houseplants, pottery, statuary, fountains, “garden inspired” gifts and more.

“I think the thing that I’m most proud of is the unusual plant selection. We carry the tried and true but I like to get some unusual plants in here that people haven’t used very regularly,” Elliott said. “And supporting local businesses is huge to me. We’re selling Consolare candles, which are made in St. Louis, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to crime victim advocacy.”

Sherry Davis, who handles marketing and visual merchandising for the store, said the goal is to create a peaceful, welcoming environment. “We’re just a small, cozy little garden center right off of the main drag in Kirkwood. We’re just trying to create an environment that makes people want to hang out.”

For more information, visit

20K in scholarships available from the HRI Endowment Fund

The HRI Endowment Fund is a collection of many scholarships for students pursuing a career in horticulture. The following scholarships are available for 2013:

  • Carville M. Akehurst Memorial Scholarship
  • Timothy Bigelow & Palmer W. Bigelow Jr. Scholarship
  • The Bryan A. Champion Memorial Scholarship  
  • The Muggets Scholarship
  • Spring Meadow Nursery Scholarship
  • The Usrey Family Scholarship 
  • Susie & Bruce Usrey Education Scholarship

Applications, which must be completed using the HRI online application form, are due May 31, 2013.

For more information about the program and individual scholarships, visit

Difference makers

Spring Meadow Nursery, Grand Haven, Michigan

This year, Spring Meadow Nursery is offering three, $3,000 scholarships to students pursuing a career in the horticulture industry.

The nursery established the scholarship fund in 1999 and has awarded $16,000 in scholarships to nine students since 2004, says Spring Meadow owner Dale Deppe, who founded the program and the nursery with his wife, Liz.

The scholarships are managed by the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) Endowment Fund, which distributes several horticulture scholarships each year.

“I’ve always felt that it was critical for Spring Meadow, as well as our industry, to have bright, young people involved in our business,” Dale Deppe says. “But young people need to see horticulture as a viable, forward-moving industry. They need to know it is a place where they can develop a rewarding career. We started our HRI scholarship to attract passionate, bright students into horticulture and into the nursery business.”

HRI handles the promotion for the scholarships, the application process and manages the money. A review committee approves applications and awards the scholarships, and Deppe makes the call to give the students the good news.

The goal is to give the scholarships to students interested in woody plant production, propagating and breeding, and horticultural sales and marketing.

“These are areas of study that are important to Spring Meadow and our customers. It all starts with the plant breeding, but we all need smart, knowledgeable production people, too,” Deppe says. “And in today’s market, it is essential to invest in good sales and marketing people.”

Spring Meadow raises money for the program in a few ways.

“Initially, it was the Spring Meadow staff that built and funded the scholarship fund. When they gave new plant talks, they donated their honorariums or speaker fees to the HRI Spring Meadow Scholarship Endowment,” Deppe says. “We made our first scholarship award $1,500. Over the years the awards have grown in both size and the number granted.”

In addition, every invoice from Spring Meadow Nursery includes a voluntary contribution to HRI of a quarter of 1 percent of the invoice amount. The money is then double matched by Spring Meadow, so for every dollar received as a voluntary donation, Spring Meadow sends $3 to HRI.

Past recipients are working in several aspects of the field, Deppe says, noting that one is a professor, “developing new plants and future horticulturists,” and another is using eye tracking technology to help garden centers better understand consumers and how they shop for plants.

“Each recipient has a unique story and is in some way helping our industry. I cannot think of a better investment than attracting and supporting the best and brightest young minds in horticulture.”

For more information, visit