By Dave Harrison
A daylong Garden Centre Symposium
and an Interiorscaping Conference will precede next month’s Garden
& Florist Expo at the Toronto Congress Centre.
A daylong Garden Centre Symposium and an Interiorscaping Conference will precede next month’s Garden & Florist Expo at the Toronto Congress Centre. The symposium/conference will be held Oct. 20 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., followed by the Expo on Oct. 21-22.
Two of the most dynamic presenters of business, sales and marketing in the nursery trades will headline the symposium. Featured presenters Anne Obarski and Roy Prevost have previously spoken at conferences across Canada and the United States. This will be their Ontario debut.
Obarski is the executive director of Merchandise Concepts in St. Louis, Missouri, and the author of Applied Retail Mathematics and Surprising Secrets of Mystery Shoppers. As a former college instructor and retail consultant, she is known for the real life experiences and advice she brings to her audiences. Her presentations are entitled, “Making Your Nursery Business Contagious” and “Retail Nursery Business is Show Business.”
Prevost is a Vancouver-based consultant and strategist with more than 25 years of experience in marketing, wholesale, retail and manufacturing for the giftware industry. He forecasts consumer trends. His upcoming book, Competing with a 700 lb Gorilla, focuses on the tools and techniques retailers need to thrive and prosper in the big box retail environment.
He will outline how to “Prosper Alongside Big Box Retail” and also offer ideas on “Retaining and Motivating Employees.”
In addition to hearing Obarski and Prevost, delegates can attend other education sessions, help congratulate industry top achievers at an Awards Luncheon, and be treated to a special reception and “Sneak Peek” of Expo. This is the largest Canadian trade show for the garden centre and retail florist industries, with more than 4,000 people expected to attend this showcase for new products and recent plant and floral introductions.
Garden/Florist Expo was started in 2000. It grew out of suggestions for a fall buying show made by a number of Congress exhibitors, said Paul Day, special events manager with Landscape Ontario. The show has since tripled in size, and won an award from Trade Show Week as one of the 50 fastest growing trade shows in North America. “This award was not limited to horticultural shows, but all trade shows,” said Day.
The Garden Centre Symposium and Interiorscape Conference were added two years ago. “Educational sessions are quite popular, especially among the second generation and given the huge influx of competition from the box stores.” Combined, the two symposiums attract over 200 delegates.
Expo organizers are working to build on the number of attendees from outside the province. To this end, more national and international attendance marketing will be carried out. More well-known speakers are being invited.
The number of exhibitors and attendees has remained constant over the past three years. The numbers did increase for a few years when Expo and the National Hardware Show Canada scheduled their events to run at the same time. Now that the hardware show has ceased operations, “we are looking for other co-location opportunities, such as the Canadian Greenhouse Conference.”
Greenhouse operations are probably the fastest growing sector of Expo’s exhibitor base. More and more U.S. growers are entering the marketplace given the rise of the Canadian dollar, and Canadian growers are trying to increase Canadian market share.
Landscape Ontario has 78 greenhouse operator companies and 183 wholesale nursery growers.
“All attendees, including growers, come to see what is new, whether it’s in the New Product Showcase, the recent varieties section, or the new plant introductions presented from the University of Guelph trial gardens,” said Day. “Everyone wants to know what’s new and gain the competitive edge to thrive and set themselves apart in the eyes of consumers.”
Attendees with floral retail outlets will enjoy live demonstrations on stage and also be able to attend business seminars on the floor enabling them to enhance their business knowledge.
“Our partner, the Toronto chapter of Flowers Canada Retail, will be showcasing its Gold Cup floral design competition, as well as holding its annual Designs and Décor gala event.” This competition has been running in Canada for some 20 years, said Day, “but this is the first time this floral design competition will be held at our event.”
The theme is “Ontario Harvest.” All plant material will be provided and sponsored by Pick Ontario to promote locally grown products. “The Gold Cup competition is an excellent opportunity to showcase the best of Ontario floriculture to the rest of Canada and the world.”
For more information on Garden & Florist Expo, or to register for either the symposium or the conference, go to www.gardenexpo.ca .