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Trade show update
Garden Centre Group Co-op raises over $500,000 for Parkinson’s research
The Garden Centre Group Co-op held its 13th annual trade show and banquet on Nov. 1-2 at the Paramount Conference and Event Venue in Woodbridge, Ont.

p14_GardenCentreGroupCoop  
 Henry King (middle) presents Marg Turner (left) and Don Turner of the Parkinson Society Canada with a cheque for $65,000.
 
The event is exclusive to members of the buying group, which is made up of individuals from over 30 independent garden centres across Canada. At the November trade show, members have the opportunity to network as well as meet-up with the group’s suppliers to place orders for the coming year.

The show also serves as a fundraiser for the Parkinson Society Canada. Since 1999, the Garden Centre Group Co-op has raised over $500,000 through the sale of booths, the suppliers’ and members’ banquet and a silent auction. This year’s efforts were no exception – Henry King, the group’s president, and the owner of Art Knapp’s Plantland and Flower Shop in Penticton, B.C., presented Don and Marg Turner, two volunteers from the Parkinson Society Canada, with a cheque for $65,000.

Those businesses that are interested in becoming apart of the Garden Centre Group Co-op can apply to either Heather Milne, the office manager or to any members who they may know. The process is simple and smooth. As a new member is actually buying shares in the co-op and becoming a partner, and so sharing in the profits, there is no annual fee to belong to the group.

The prospective member fills out an application form, which outlines some details about their business, their future plans and what they will bring to the co-op table. After all, a new member becomes an equal owner sharing in the decision-making process and future direction of the co-op, so it is important that there is a good fit. The process continues from there through to acceptance. For more information, visit www.gardencentregroup.com.


Expo 2011 unveils new look and location
The 2011 edition of Expo 2011 came to the Toronto Congress Centre Oct. 19-20. More than 2,000  attendees passed by the 200 plus exhibitors at this year’s event. The show highlights included an enhanced lighting of the show floor, hundreds of new plant and product introductions and floral masterpieces. The new location, look, educational sessions and networking opportunities left attendees feeling excited and inspired.

The 2011 Landscape Ontario Garden Centre Awards of Excellence Winners were also announced at Expo 2011. The following garden centres were honoured with these awards:
  • Angelo’s Garden Centre of Concord, Ont. – Outstanding Display of Plant Material – Annuals and/or Perennials
  • Bala Garden Centre of Bala, Ont. – Outstanding Display of Plant Material – Annuals and/or Perennials
  • Canadale Nurseries Ltd. of St. Thomas, Ont. – Merchandising Techniques – Outstanding Promotional Event; Outstanding Display of Plant Material – Deciduous Shrubs and/or Trees
  • Connon Nurseries/CBV Holdings Inc. of Waterdown, Ont. – Outstanding Display of Plant Material – Annuals and/or Perennials; Outstanding Display of Plant Material – Your Specialty: Plant Material Your Business is Noted For
  • Cudmore’s Garden Centre Inc. of Oakville, Ont. – Outstanding Display of Plant Material - Annuals and/or Perennials
  • Mori Gardens of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. – Outstanding Display of Goods – Hardgoods
  • New North Greenhouses Inc. of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – Outstanding Display of Goods – Giftware; Merchandising Techniques - Outstanding Promotional Event
  • Parkway Gardens Ltd. of London, Ont. – Outstanding Display of Plant Material – Your Specialty: Plant Material Your Business is Noted For; Permanent Display Gardens - Over 500 square feet
  • Sheridan Nurseries Ltd. of Georgetown, Ont. – Merchandising Techniques – Outstanding Promotional Event; Outstanding Display of Plant Material – Annuals and/or Perennials; Outstanding Display of Goods – Seasonal; Outstanding Display of Plant Material – Deciduous Shrubs and/or Trees; Merchandising Techniques – Creative POP Area; Merchandising Techniques – Outstanding Print Advertising; Outstanding Display of Goods – Giftware;  Merchandising Techniques – Outstanding Web Site Development
As part of its educational program, Expo 2011 also included a keynote presentation, titled “Taking a Good Garden Centre and Making it Great!” from Karl Stensson, the president of Sheridan Nurseries Ltd. In his presentation he spoke to the audience about the need to deliver a retail experience that people have become accustomed to from companies such as Amazon, Starbucks, WestJet and Apple. Stensson looks to these outlets for ideas he can replicate in his garden centres. For instance, at Sheridan Nurseries, no staff member, not even Stensson himself, may refer to shoppers as customers; instead they must use the term “guest.” The reason for this is because Stensson likens his store to his home. “When you invite your guest to your home, you cook, clean, entertain and you take care of them,” he said.

Stensson also offered his 10 steps to building a great garden centre, which go as follows:
  • Have a really good plan and benchmark it.
  • Set standards of excellence.
  • Hire competent staff and train them.
  • Provide service, which is more than the guests expect.
  • Develop your brand and stick with it.
  • Merchandise to sell and be noticed.
  • Have a foolproof guarantee.
  • Encourage feedback.
  • Advertise and be what you say you are.
  • Search for, and embrace, change.
To hear more about Karl Stensson’s presentation, visit the web exclusive section at www.canadiangardencentre.ca.
 
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