The IGC show in Chicago was great fun. I had a chance to meet many of the people whom I interact with online. Jeff and Cheryl Morey who organize the show treated myself and our Facebook Group well. A highlight for our group was the special seating at the Lou Graham concert where special signs pointed the way for us. Very cool! The mood at the show from the vendors and attendants is cautious optimism. Well, actually that's being a bit generous. I would have to say that the mood is neutral, as if waiting for the next shoe to drop. While I was there the stock market was dropping 500 plus points and the European debt crises grew more ominous. There is no doubt that we are in a transformational time in our garden center trade. While attending this show I received word that another IGC in Sacramento will be closing it's doors. I am afraid there will be many more retail and wholesale operations closing their doors this, and next year.
Amongst this I saw signs of the future direction of the garden center world. It's hopeful, game changing, and very exciting. The future for the trade is bright, it's just many won't last or make the changes necessary to see this future. I heard a number of times from both vendors and retail people about, "when the economy recovers..." My concern is there is no time to wait. You had better start making the changes you need to make now, as I am not sure how long we will have to wait for the economy to "recover". When it does "recover" I am not sure if we will recognize it. It will not be "business as usual".
I am convinced the future for my store, and perhaps yours is in creating passionate gardeners. This is done through education, collaboration, and enthusiasm. One part of this future for us in the trade is collaboration. There are no secrets anymore, and the more we share the more we gain. This is being proven again and again in our Facebook group Independent Garden Centers and Nurseries where the most forward thinking nursery people reside.The ideas being shared in the group are actionable ideas that can be taken back to your store and used to make a difference to the bottom line. While at the show I had breakfast with a leader in the garden center world who want's to promote our group on an international level. Imagine sharing ideas with people in our trade from around the world! Who knows what, or where the ideas you can use will come from?
Exciting things are happening, and there is money to be made in our trade. It's just the old way's won't work as well and we have to work together to forge a new path. Collaboration with like minded businesses is one key for the future of the Independent Garden Center world. Come along and join us on this trip to the "new world". Who know's what we'll discover.