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Eight Winners Honored In GCA's Fourth Annual Best Garden Center Bathroom Awards

Presented during the GCA Membership Networking Lunch at the IGC Show, Thursday, August 21, on Navy Pier’s Rooftop Deck. A panel judged the entries on the bathroom’s creativity and comfort to the customer’s overall shopping experience. The winner of the top honor, the Gold Award, received a plaque and comp registration for the 2015 GCA Summer Tour. Other recognitions included four Silver Awards and three Merit Awards, also honored with plaques.

The Garden Mart, Mukwonago, WI

What’s old is new in The Garden Mart’s charming restroom, “The Potty Shed.” Located inside the store, it takes on a rustic country design inspired by the trend of converting vintage outhouses into functional garden sheds. Items are merchandised for sale on shelves and counters made of repurposed pallets, crates and pavers. “Having a ‘captive’ audience allows us the opportunity to showcase product,” says Belinda Abendschein, Marketing Specialist. There are no paper towels or hand dryers in this bathroom - instead, “earth-friendly” washcloths are made available to customers in unexpected places, like a dual-bucket-and-spigot fixture.

Cornell Farm, Portland, OR

Built from the ground up, Cornell Farm’s new restroom facility takes the place of portable toilets, used by employees and customers for 22 years. Inside the red outdoor structure, natural light streams through skylights. Attractive sconce lighting illuminates the fresh green-and-earth-brown spaces on cloudy days. Speakers integrated with the main store’s sound system make the restrooms a place of respite.

Flamingo Road Nursery, Davie, FL

Flamingo Road’s new freestanding bathroom for customers with special needs and families trumpets the retailer’s mantra - “Celebrate Life in the Tropics!” Brightly colored walls and paintings of beach scenes and flamingos make the 8'x10' space feel like Key West. A beach umbrella in the corner and plastic pink flamingos bring the concept to shore. Real bamboo in the ceiling and galvanized metal in the wainscot are visual complements. The price tag for the addition: less than $7,000, thanks to competitive pricing from independent contractors and help from nursery personnel with painting and construction.

Lammscapes, Jackson, WI

Sunny summer colors in the ladies’ restroom at Lammscapes help sell the joy of the season, as customers browse the decor on display inside. “Many customers like to shop our bathrooms and come walking out with items to buy,” says
Laurie Lamm McGraw, Executive Vice President. “Bring whimsy and fun into your bathroom - why not? It makes people smile!”

Linton’s Enchanted Gardens, Elkhart, IN
Customers are swept away by Linton’s restrooms, the ladies’ room themed as a seaside  resort and the men’s room designed as a fisherman’s paradise. Women enjoy the breezy feeling of being at the beach, with shells and tropical plants all around, cabana-like curtains framing the mirrors and nautical lanterns lighting each oak-paneled stall. Men are transported to a relaxed place, with painted fishing scenes, real fishing nets draped along the ceiling and mirrors and lake decor setting the tranquil scene.

Cedar River Garden Center, Palo, IA
Six years after a flood ravaged Cedar River’s bathrooms, leaving just white plywood walls, the bathrooms are transformed with vibrant handpainted murals - a wetlands motif in the men’s room and bright yellow sunflowers in the women’s room.

The Green Thumbers, Davenport, IA

High-end and history go hand-in-hand in the beautifully appointed restrooms at The Green Thumbers. Ceramic tile in gold, tan and brown complement the high-gloss mocha painted walls. In the men’s room, framed photos of the
nursery in the 1950s represent the retailer’s deep roots. Floral wall art and silk arrangements in the women’s room add refined touches.

Tagawa Gardens, Centennial, CO
From drab to fab! Tagawa transformed its tired, dated restroom facility into a stunning showcase of decorating ideas for the front porch. Window boxes teeming with colorful blooms, gorgeous hanging baskets, stylish container gardens and all varieties of garden decor stop customers in their tracks and get them shopping to bring the looks back to their own homes.

Click here to see pictures of all winning entries!


June 21, 2015 • TBA
August 04, 2015 • TBA
August 18, 2015 • Navy Pier, Chicago, IL


Jay Meadows, President
Meadows Farms Nurseries, Chantilly, VA
Meadows Farms Builds a Name on
‘Best Plants, Best Price’

Since the company’s start more than 50 years ago, Meadows Farms Nurseries’ No. 1 focus has been to stand out. President Jay Meadows points to one key that helps them in this mission: “We’re different from other garden centers in that we’re price-conscious,” he says. Customers consistently find “the best plants and the best price” at the retailer’s 22 locations in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland, he says. In fact, the stores’ low-price guarantee assures it.

“The bulk of our advertising dollars are spent on direct-mail flyers, where we list products with percentages off. It’s about shouting ‘percent off,’” Jay says. “We’ve got confidence in the prices we’re putting out there.”

To help further distinguish the Meadows Farms brand, Jay, son of founder Bill Meadows, keeps a close eye on what other garden centers are doing during the GCA Summer Tours. “It’s a great opportunity to really talk to other garden center owners - to see what they’re doing and benchmark it against what we’re doing,” Jay says.

Another way Meadows Farms makes its name is in the efficiency of the shopping experience at its stores. “We provide good informational signage, where the customer can read about the product without having to track down a salesperson,” says Jay. Quick checkouts are also essential: “Customers must be able to get in and out fast.”

Through the years, Meadows Farms has built its reputation on friendly, polite employees and a great delivery service. “It’s important that customers feel appreciated for spending their money with us,” Jay says. “We want them to know we appreciate them. We thank them at least four times when they’re in our stores.”

Upward Trend In Landscape Design

Starting from Bill’s idea five decades ago to sell produce door-to-door, Meadows Farms has grown beyond its garden center roots. Today, the company’s landscaping division accounts for one-third of its business; the garden center and nursery generate the remaining two-thirds. “More and more people want us to do the landscaping for them,” says Jay, who predicts an upward trend for landscape services. The landscaping division is expected to show even more growth than the retail division this season, he says.

The garden center and nursery may be growing in number of retail and landscaping service sales, but Jay’s mind is far from expanding with more stores. It’s been four years since Meadows Farms opened a new location. Jay says, “I think focusing for the next five years on growth at the 22 locations we have now, with a little less aggressiveness on opening up new locations, will be the company’s direction.”

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Garden Centers of America
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