I spent the last two days as a social media communicator at the Independent Garden Center Show on Navy Pier in Chicago. IGC is an annual trade show where owners and employees of independent garden centers (IGCs) have the opportunity to see what’s new in plant development and garden product manufacturing and place orders with the vendors for the upcoming sales season.
In many ways, the IGC show floor is a commodity exchange for garden products, and the results of these exchanges determines what shows up for sale in the independent garden centers in our home communities. (An independent garden center is a local business selling garden products, as different from garden centers in larger home improvement or department stores. Employees of “big box” stores are not allowed to attend the IGC show.)
As a garden blogger, walking the IGC floor was a wonderful opportunity for me to see new products and talk with the people that make and market them. A short conversation with a vendor can provide a completely new understanding of what goes into plant and product research and development, as well as the challenges of bringing a new product to market. These behind-the-scenes views provide valuable insight for me when I’m sharing information via my blog about plants and products that inspire and excite me.
Two of the more fascinating conversations I had revolved around glove manufacturing. I’m extremely hard on my garden gloves, so I’m always on the lookout for a glove that is durable, comfortable and flexible. I’ll be doing a product review in a later post on a few different gloves from The Pallina and SeaMar Gloves, but I feel like I received a short course on glove manufacturing from representatives of both companies. The idea of the glove has been around forever, but these companies are constantly trying to “tweak the recipe” to make a better glove to make our gardening experiences more comfortable.
The coolest new garden product I saw comes from Moss and Stone Gardens. They’re called “Moss Rocks” and are simply a patch of moss growing on a ceramic stone. David Spain from Moss and Stone Gardens said they need weekly watering and indirect light, but otherwise are a maintenance-free plant for inside the home. To watch people’s excitement as they first experienced one of the Moss Rocks was incredible. Moss Rocks will initially come in three different sizes and will be available in October 2011. If the excitement for this product at IGC was any indication, they’ll be showing up in local garden centers soon after.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be doing a few more in-depth posts about some of the products I saw at IGC. All the new products and enthusiasm at the show have me excited for the future of independent garden centers. The economic downturn hasn’t been easy on them, and many of my favorite IGCs have shut their doors in the past year. So it’s heartening to see such brisk traffic and exciting products at the IGC 2011 show.