IGCA Congress 2008: Heading North

Vancouver, B.C., will host the 50th International Garden Centre Association (IGCA) Congress this September, which will draw as many as 300 garden center professionals from all over the world to tour British Columbia’s premier garden centers.

This is the second time Canada has hosted the event. The first was in 1995, when record numbers turned out to get a glimpse of the top garden centers in Ontario.

“The response to Canada’s first Congress was astounding,” says Karl Stensson of Sheridan Nurseries in Canada. “Our peers and quick friends, whom we met at that and successive congresses, still rave about the highlights.”

Aside from the tourism opportunities, the IGCA Congress will provide professional development for the retailers who attend. The five-day show-and-tell style retail tour will highlight each of the stops’ best ideas in marketing, merchandising, public outreach and products. Because garden retailers across all areas of the world face similar challenges, the hope is that participants will come away with numerous ideas to apply to their own businesses.

Brian Minter, chair of the 2008 IGCA Congress organizing committee, is enthusiastic about showcasing the unique characteristics each store on the tour has to offer.

“Our destinations aren’t huge, but we do a lot of things very well, like maximizing dollars per square foot in small stores and coming up with outstanding solutions for urban and boutique gardening,” he says. “We’re experts in container gardens and introducing great new plants. We’re working hard to cater to a younger and less defined brand of gardeners. These are the things we can share with our international visitors. At the same time, their visit will be an invaluable learning experience for us.”  

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