Saturday, October 3, 2009
Renee's Seeds "do the show" in Chicago
A few weeks ago I took the opportunity to venture back to my hometown, Chicago, to work at the Independent Garden Center show at Navy Pier Exposition Center. Renee and I met up with our East Coast sales manager Jay (who also works as our Vermont trial gardener), to set up our booth. The empty, carpeted space would transform into the home for Renee’s Garden Seeds for three busy days.
If you’ve never been to a trade show, just imagine a space the size of 2 or 3 football fields filled with enormous cardboard boxes, tubing, wire and forklifts. Within a matter of hours, the entire place transformed into a wonderland for gardeners, filled with fire-breathing pots, enormous gushing fountains, and all sorts of plants, trees and every kind of garden tool. It's the place to see the latest and greatest in products for the garden, and we saw a lot of people looking like kids in a candy store.
Companies exhibited at the 2009 Independent Garden Center show for several reasons: to talk to their current wholesale customers, to introduce new products, and to find prospective new independent garden center customers. Attending the wholesale-only show were buyers and owners from garden centers and nurseries from all across the country. Because the IGC is specifically targeted to independent garden centers; no discount or "big box stores" enter in the picture. These independent garden center buyers look hard for products (like Renee's Garden seeds) that help differentiate them from their "big-box" competition. Many retailers also brought their families – after all, many independently run garden centers are family-owned so it’s only natural to bring the kids along!
Renee’s Garden showcased several of our handsome Garden Trellis and Garden Gate displays filled with our watercolor seed packets. For seed companies, well-designed and attractive displays are absolutely crucial. Seed packets aren’t like garden hoses – you can’t just stack them on a shelf or expect people to rummage through a bin to find what they want. Buyers, bloggers (like Mr. Brown Thumb and Linda from Garden Girl) and press people stopped at our booth to “shop” our displays and to look at Renee’s new varieties for 2010. They asked questions about our seeds and talked with Renee, who is a wealth of information and suggestions for encouraging and supporting home gardeners.
Being in Chicago also gave us an opportunity to enjoy some great restaurants and the wonderful atmosphere of this exciting city. We also attend several other major garden trade shows across the country during the year - an excellent opportunity to meet our customers and keep abreast of innovations and trends in the garden world.