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Social Media Recap from GCA Summer Tour 2015

This Month's GCA Member Profile

Recap from IGC East 2015

Recap from IGC Chicago 2015

Destination for 2016 GCA Summer Tour Announced - Portland, Here We Come!

Next year's GCA Summer Tour is headed to Portland, OR, for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the garden centers that make this Northwestern market a hub of retail innovation. Portland has been called a treasure trove of merchandising and retail inspiration, so be sure to pack your notebook and camera!

In addition to touring Portland garden centers, plans are being made now to take attendees to a major grower and principal plant supplier to IGC retailers across the nation.

Do you have suggestions for some really awesome stops?  Email your suggestions to and tell us why you think they would make the 2016 Summer Tour spectacular!

Watch for the late-June dates and destinations of next year's tour to be announced in the coming months.

2015 GCA Summer Tour Milwaukee Social Media Recap

In case you missed all of the coverage of this year's GCA Summer Tour in Milwaukee, WI, here are some of the highlights from social media:

"At one of yesterday's stops on the 2015 GCA Summer Tour in the Milwaukee area, K&W Greenery provided an interesting use of what would otherwise be throw-away wood shipping pallets. Co-owner Phyliss Williams reports she just throws a quick paint wash on them and turns them into useful store display items. She feels Millennials especially appreciate the re-purposing, which is so trendy these days."

"First stop this morning on the 2015 GCA Summer Tour was the conodial domes - the three that comprise the Milwaukee Domes of the Mitchell Park Conservatory. Attendees toured the three distinct domes - tropical, desert and show garden. All were very impressed with these horticultural gems here in the Midwest."


"Yesterday on the GCA Summer Tour in the Milwaukee area, we saw these products at two stores. Really cool, faux antique rusted shovels that are laser cut with cool designs. Designed to stand upright, stuck in the ground as garden art, they hold rain gauges in the shovel art design. Johnson's Gardens in Cedarburg, WI, asks customers to pick up the rain gauge vessels upon check out."

"This morning, the 2015 GCA Summer Tour made its way through southeastern Wisconsin to stop at Oconomowoc Landscape Supply & Garden Center, where we found this incredible and impressive bulk mulch and stone display. Retailers on the tour were wowed by this unique and high-end presentation, which according to Owner Terry Van Lare, helps create his impressive sales in these categories."

"2015 GCA Summer Tour attendees gathered after a delicious lunch at Ebert's Greenhouse Village, Ixonia, WI, the entire entourage traveling by doubledecker bus this week, touring all of southeastern Wisconsin. The tour has been a hit and only experienced a few showers among the mostly bright, sunny skies."

IGC East Continues to Build on Quality Buyers, Broad Range of Industry Exhibitors

IGC East's second annual show last week at the Baltimore Convention Center drew more than 1,500 verified independent retail buyers, who shopped the latest product offerings from nearly 300 exhibiting vendors across the floor.

"We appreciate the positive response from buyers who attended IGC East this year. Now, we're looking to them to spread that enthusiasm to their industry friends and colleagues for an even stronger IGC East next summer," says Jeff Morey, IGC Show Co-founder and Co-producer. "Our sights are on establishing IGC East as the go-to source for new products and industry education in the region as our event continues to grow. It is a building process, and we'll get there with the support of this wonderful industry moving it forward."

Response from many exhibitors is positive. Master Nursery Garden Centers, which moved its Eastern Regional Member Meeting to IGC East this year, says the relocation was a good one for them. "We are extremely happy, and had the highest turnout in years - way up from the other venues of past years," says Jeff Lafferty, CEO of Master Nursery Garden Centers. "Our booth was jammed, and we wrote a bunch of orders from members. We will definitely be back for IGC East 2016."

IGC East's exhibitors, covering a broad range of categories, intrigued visitors to the show floor - including Tuesday's spotlight speaker, Martha Stewart. In what can only be described as incredible exposure for the independent garden center industry to consumers worldwide, Stewart blogged about her experience at IGC East (, sharing more than 25 photos and descriptions of some of her favorite finds on the show floor, as well as from her Q&A keynote, which concluded with questions from the audience and a meet-and-greet at the front of the ballroom stage. Stewart went on to greet exhibitors and examine even more product hands-on during a personal walk-through tour of the show with Jeff and Cheryl Morey.

IGC Chicago Impresses First-Timers, Experienced Show-Goers with New Products, Retail Inspirations, Networking & Fun

IGC Chicago's ninth annual show extended the excitement across Navy Pier, from the expanse of new and proven products for independent garden centers in the exhibit hall to the retail inspirations found in the IGC Retail Conference upstairs and keynotes in the IGC Grand Ballroom.

"The buzz across the show was big," says Jeff Morey, IGC Show Co-founder and Co-producer. "We were especially happy to talk with so many first-time show-goers on the floor, who said IGC Chicago is firmly on their calendar for next year. Of course, we also extend our deep thanks to the many retailers who have made IGC Chicago their place for product buying all through the years."

Retailers were not only looking to bring back new product for their stores, many said they were sizing up vendor booth displays to incorporate the product presentations into their own merchandising. "The wide range of beautiful booth displays put together by IGC Chicago's vendors are such a visual treat, says Cheryl Morey, IGC Show Co-founder and Co-producer. "Whether you're walking the aisle or taking a broad view of the hall from the third floor, it really makes an impression."

IGC Chicago's keynote program drew favorable reviews from the audience, including a standing ovation as Ernest Wertheim walked onto the IGC Grand Ballroom stage and at the conclusion of his talk. Marcus Lemonis, star of CNBC's The Profit, also brought the audience to their feet - as he spoke in length to answer retail business questions from the crowd, and offered his personal e-mail for those whose questions couldn't be answered due to time constraints. (See the IGC Show's Facebook and Twitter pages for Lemonis' e-mail address.) During his keynote, "So What's Your Story," Robert Hendrickson shared his own story as a musician with stars in his eyes turned garden center marketing guru to demonstrate just how engaging stories can be.

More ideas and inspirations were discovered upstairs from the show floor, in the IGC Retail Conference's five focused tracks. In the classrooms, attendees made notes of the track leaders' strategies for making their businesses even stronger, and exchanged ideas with fellow classmates on what works - and what doesn't - for them.

IGC buyers and vendors turned their focus on networking and fun at Tuesday evening's IGC Show Party & Concert with the Gin Blossoms. The hum of biz talk and conversation filled the IGC Grand Ballroom, followed by the band's high-energy performance of their chart-topping hits.

IGC Chicago returns to Navy Pier next year for its 10-year anniversary, August 16-18, 2016. IGC East returns to the Baltimore Convention Center, July 26-28, 2016. Watch for details on next year's IGC Shows in the months ahead, and check out photos from this year's excitement at the IGC Show's Facebook page,


July 26, 2016 • Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, MD
August 16, 2016 • Navy Pier, Chicago, IL

GCA Best Bathroom Awards Recognize Independent Garden Centers for Standout Facilities

Garden Centers of America (GCA) is recognizing these independent garden centers for their store restroom designs with the 2015 GCA Best Garden Center Bathroom Awards. A panel judged the entries on the bathroom’s creativity and comfort to the customer’s overall shopping experience.

The fifth-annual honors were announced at IGC Chicago on the IGC Grand Ballroom Stage at Navy Pier. Altum’s Horticultural Center & Landscape, the winner of the Gold Award, was presented with a plaque and will receive a comp registration for the 2016 GCA Summer Tour in Portland, OR. Other recognitions include the three Silver Awards and three Merit Awards detailed here:

GOLD AWARD Altum's Horticultural Center & Landscape, Zionsville, IN


Altum’s 20-year-old bathrooms needed updating. With the help of a local carpenter, the garden center repurposed wood from pallets to cover the metal stalls. Now, vintage mirrors decoratively accent the granite-topped rain barrel sinks. In the men’s room, handpainted antiqued tools, along with implements sold in the store, help carry the theme, “It’s all about the right tool!” An antiqued copper hummingbird hovers from the ceiling, and miniature tabletop gardens provide reading material in the form of brochures and business cards. In the women’s room, SuperMoss-covered tank lids, shadow box miniature air plant gardens and shabby chic floral garden stakes tie in the theme, “Bring the outside in!” Vintage Altum family photos take customers back to the garden center’s roots.

SILVER AWARD Clay Garden and Gift, Santa Rosa Beach, FL


Signage from the property’s two previous garden center operations brings a sense of nostalgia to Clay Garden and Gift’s restroom. An original potting table offers a sampling of bath and body products sold in the store so customers can freshen up from the Florida heat. The sink creatively combines two stacked Holland bulb crates with a copper-sheet countertop and an oil-rubbed bronze faucet for
a mix of repurposed past and modern sophistication.

SILVER AWARD Ebert's Greenhouse Village, Ixonia, WI - Featured Stop, GCA Summer Tour 2015


Nestled in the beautiful countryside of Southern Wisconsin, Ebert’s designed its bathroom with a rustic look that surprises with elements of modern chic. Special touches make it welcoming for everyone, like the charming floral mobile that keeps little ones calm and content on the changing table. While they’re freshening up, visitors can check out information about upcoming events, too.

SILVER AWARD Larson's Garden Center, Burlington, CT


Two of Larson’s bathrooms caught our judges’ eyes. In the first, classic dark chocolate-painted walls, white crown moulding and a mosaic floor call out the whimsy of mischievous garden gnomes, one perched on a cabinet, pants down, mooning washroom patrons. In the other bathroom, a terra-cotta warrior stands tall, guarding the elegantly simple space. A stunning white bowl sink contrasts beautifully against rich red fixtures. Charcoal tiles inlaid with Asian-themed flower mosaics complete the look underfoot.

MERIT AWARD Cedar Brook Garden Center, New Prague, MN


When Cedar Brook opened for the first time this spring, the store’s bathrooms did as much to impress its new customers as the rest of the pristine property. The facility’s earth-toned tile and walls complement the white and red antique barn wood in the ceiling, cabinet and trim. Fresh-cut flowers from the garden center’s wildflower field and decorative accents also found for sale in the store add the perfect touches.

MERIT AWARD Fairfield Farms Nurseries, Oxford, FL

Birds and butterflies are all a flutter in Fairfield Farms’ bathroom design. Decorative birdhouses help carry the theme of the walls’ hand-drawn detail. Customers are encouraged to bring more “flights of fancy” to their own backyards with these sales messages incorporated into the artwork: “Landscaping Is for the Birds” and “See Our Artistic Designers.”

MERIT AWARD Lammscapes/Lamm Gardens, Jackson, WI - Featured Stop, GCA Summer Tour 2015


During outdoor special events and weddings at Lammscapes, portable toilets get an image overhaul with upscale amenities nearby, including a washing tent with a table of toiletries and a mirrored dresser with vases of fresh flowers.

For more images of this year's Best Bathroom Award winners, click here.


Susan and Ken Mosher, Owners Oceanview Garden Centre, Chester, Nova Scotia, Canada
Oceanview 'Game For Anything' When It Comes To Consumer Trends
Situated on a 27-acre property just a couple miles from the Atlantic Ocean, Oceanview Garden Centre features an extensive selection of green goods, giftware and hardgoods that go above and beyond the usual “run-of-the-mill” products you find in every garden center or garden department at the box stores.

Susan and Ken Mosher, hands-on Owners and Horticulturists at Oceanview, pride themselves on staying ahead of consumer trends in gardening. Susan says, “We like to be the first on deck with the new trends and new products. We want to be different from every other garden center in our area.”

She continues, “We are ahead of our time as far as trends go, because we’re more in line with the American and European trends, which are always way ahead of Canadian trends.”

Susan credits this past summer’s GCA Summer Tour Milwaukee, the IGC Show Monday Garden Center Tour, international garden center tours and gift shows as her sources of inspiration when trying to find the latest trends to feature in her store.

“We bring back any ideas – whether displays or products – that we think are relevant to our business, and we will try it,” Susan says. “We’re game for anything.”

Susan lists the GCA Summer Tours as one of the biggest benefits of her membership in Garden Centers of America. “The Milwaukee tour was probably the best networking tour that we’ve ever been on,” Susan says. “I found this group of people to be so friendly. Everybody wanted to share. The owners and managers at the stores that we toured were so giving with the information, and they were just so pleased to have everyone there to give their feedback. It was an absolutely wonderful experience.”

Susan also says the monthly e-newsletters from GCA, the Garden Retail Trends Report and the GCA Member Hotline, also help her to stay on top of the trends outside Canada. “Since we’re hands-on owners, we seldom have time to sit down and read all of the e-newsletters,” she says. “So I save all of them until winter when I can go through them. I cut out any relevant information then save it in a binder. When I want new ideas and inspiration, I can just flip through the binder.”

Quality Selection, Constant Change Is Key

Oceanview Garden Centre tailors its product mix to all customers, from upper-end to more modest incomes. “We try to have something for everyone,” Susan says.

The garden center carries common and unusual varieties of perennials, annuals, trees, shrubs, tropicals, vegetable transplants, herbs, hanging baskets and ready-to-go containers. “Since younger families have been wanting to grow their own vegetables and herbs, we’ve had a 40 percent increase in our herbs and vegetable transplants categories for the past three years,” Susan says.

For the customer looking for a gift, Oceanview’s full line features functional kitchen products, teas, healing stones, women’s apparel and jewelry. Customers can also find garden decor, tools, soils, fertilizers, statuary and accessories at the store.

To keep their customers interested, Susan and Ken expand on or change up a department in the store every year. “We never leave anything the same,” Susan says. And within the next two years, the Moshers are hoping to make some substantial additions to Oceanview.

“Hopefully, our neighbors will sell us their property, then we can expand our parking lot and add a large wooden structure to house the giftware and women’s apparel,” she says. “We would also add a cafe/tea room.”

Susan adds, “There are some big changes ahead.”

Click here to read more Member Profiles.

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Garden Centers of America
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