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GCA Best Bathroom Awards Deadline Extended to July 25

There are still a few days left to get your entry in for GCA's Annual Best Bathroom Awards.

Some may think it silly to award bathrooms, but the appeal of convenient and clean restrooms ranks high on a woman's decision where to shop.

‘People Come Just for the Bathroom!’

GCA Best Bathroom Award winners say their restrooms are still connecting with customers in a unique way. The 2012 Gold Award-winning “Man Cave” bathroom at Baker’s Acres in Alexandria, OH, gives customers another reason to visit the garden center, says Owner Chris Baker. “We usually change our bathroom every two years, but this concept was held over by popular demand,” he says. “It ties in with our theme of making our store a fun place to shop. Some people come here just to check out the bathroom!”

If you have a really great bathroom, share it with others!

How to Enter: E-mail several photos of your store bathrooms, saved in jpeg format, along with a description of the bathrooms, the concept behind the designs and their benefits to your garden center. Include store name and key contact, address, phone and e-mail address, and send to:


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.”

Click here to read more Member Profiles.


August 05, 2014 • Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, MD
August 10, 2014 • Various locations in Ireland
August 19, 2014 • Navy Pier, Chicago, IL
August 21, 2014 12:30 PM • Rooftop at Navy Pier, IGC Show, Chicago, IL

GCA San Fran Summer Tour
Is A Hit With Attendees

Each GCA Summer Tour is specifically designed to not only see and learn from the area's leading garden centers, but to provide a vast diversity of retailing philosophies and store size, as well as a taste of the local area! In San Fran, we saw large and small operations, and stores with a traditional approach, as well as Flora Grubb that is urban chic, and everything in between. We always add local flair - sometimes it's a hit, sometimes not. Attendees either loved this year's Computer History Museum or hated it. But hey, we were in Silicon Valley, specifically, right in the backyard of Apple and Google.  How could we not include computer history? Everyone did seem to enjoy their evening in beautiful downtown Sausalito, although some would have liked more time.

What did attendees have to say?

"The San Francisco Tour was filled with interesting garden centers full of good large and small ideas that I can implement back home. Thank you for making it a useful and fun trip." Ned Wilson, Owner, Wilson's Garden Center, Newark, OH

"There's no better way to learn about your business than spending a few days with your peers, looking at the best garden centers, and talking to others about what works and doesn't work in your business. A great place to see how products are displayed with possible things to look for at the IGC Show." David Williams, Williams Nursery, Westfield, NJ

"We had a wonderful time, saw some great places we were totally unaware of, spent time with good friends and made new ones. We go to one national and one international garden center tour every year. We would never have become who we are without the great ideas that came from these tours!" Cathy Bishop, General Manager, Mesquite Valley Growers Nursery, Tucson, AZ

"With a lot of experience taking GCA, ANLA and IGCA garden center tours. I will say this one in San Francisco was one of the best planned and went very smoothly. Being in San Francisco, the travel time was not very long between stops and there was good networking." Chuck Johnson, Johnson Nursery & Garden Center, Cookeville, TN.

IGC East Is Just Around
The Corner, August 5-7, 2014

IGC East, held August 5-7, 2014, at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, MD, is set to launch! You still have time to preregister and win a chance for a $5,000 trip to anywhere. There are so many more reasons to attend IGC East than just a chance to win. Take a look at all there is to experience!

IGC Dedicated To You

IGC East (and IGC Chicago) are unlike any show you've been to. Why? Because everything at IGC is soley dedicated to you, the independent garden center. Every single product or service offered on the show floor is something for your shelves or store. Every vendor sells to garden centers, not growers or landscapers.

The IGC Retail Conference has 5 tracks and 30 sessions dedicated entirely to IGC retailing, making it the most comprehensive educational conference for garden centers.

With fabulous keynotes, Willie Degel from Restaurant Stakeout speaking on Willie's Secrets To Stellar Customer Service, the ever-popular Corey Bordine speaking on Here's How Your Customers Really See Your Business and the ever-entertaining Peter Shankman on The New Rules Of Social Media, all free.

There are also a few seats still available on the Monday IGC East Bus Tour. These bus tours are always well-attended, educational and fun for all!

Let's not forget the famous Concert and Party! IGC East brings you Don Felder of the Eagles. Former Eagles Lead Guitarist & Co-Songwriter Don will perform songs like "Hotel California," "Life In The Fast Lane," "One of These Nights," "New Kid In Town." Grab a beer and a snack, have a seat, and get ready to enjoy!

If you can't make IGC East, or prefer to go to IGC Chicago you can register by clicking here.

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