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GCA's 2015 Summer Tour Heads to Milwaukee, WI,
June 21-25

Tour-goers will enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at the area’s top IGC retailers and what makes their offerings a premier draw for their customer base.

"Milwaukee is a central hub of some of the highest quality in retail gardening,” says Jeff Morey, GCA’s Executive Director. “As a Milwaukee native, it’s a true pleasure to go back and see the broad range of independents now serving this area’s intense love of gardening. The city and surrounding suburbs have a genuine passion for celebrating the warmth and beauty of the spring and summer months – and the stores featured on this tour are masterful in giving their customers that step up in inspiration. The GCA Leadership Council is excited to announce this Heartland destination as our next big summer event.”

Tour-goers will be able to take advantage of the area’s many dining and entertainment opportunities, including the Milwaukee RiverWalk, a 2-mile excursion that winds along the river with access to some of the city's best restaurants, brewpubs, shops and waterfront nightlife. The walk is also home to an outdoor art gallery, RiverSculpture, spotlighting permanent pieces and temporary installations.

The final day of this year's tour is the first day of Summerfest, The World's Largest Music Festival, featuring over 800 acts and 1,000 performances on 11 stages across 11 days on the lakefront in Milwaukee. This cornerstone summer celebration attracts the music industry's hottest stars, emerging talent and local favorites. The Marcus Amphitheater and 10 additional stages feature acts ranging from alternative, rock, country, R&B, pop and reggae to a well-rounded offering of the best of classic rock. A diverse selection of food and beverage vendors, marketplaces and interactive exhibits are set against the Lake Michigan and downtown backdrops, creating a festival experience like no other. Enjoy the tour, then plan to stay on and extend the excitement afterward at Summerfest.

More details about the GCA Summer Tour Milwaukee will be announced in the coming months.

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 • Milwaukee, WI
August 04, 2015 • Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, MD
August 18, 2015 • Navy Pier, Chicago, IL


Theresa Riley, Co-owner/Manager Rockledge Gardens, Rockledge, FL
Rockledge Gardens Is never Stuck On 'The Same Old Thing'

GCA member and second-generation IGC retailer Theresa Riley is expanding on the dream her father realized more than a half-century ago with new product and merchandising strategies at Rockledge Gardens in Rockledge, FL. The family-owned-and-operated business, which started in 1960 with bulb farmer Harry Witte, is Brevard County’s largest and most complete garden center.

Theresa credits the GCA Summer Tours for the inspiration to stock fresh new products and show them in new, creative ways. “We’re always looking for new items and merchandising ideas. You can get stuck with the same old thing if you don’t go see what other garden centers are bringing in,” she says. “Now, we’re telling stories with plants by mixing colors and pottery for more of a showpiece instead of a straight-line display.”

Connecting with other garden center operators during the tours is important, Theresa says: “Spending time on the bus with people from all over the country and hearing how they handle different aspects of the business is so helpful.”

All of the advice, tips and strategies from Theresa’s connections with other GCA members have paid off. Thanks in part to the ideas picked up along the way, Rockledge Gardens is now a destination for its seasonal and color-themed display gardens. The gardens change regularly and are designed so customers can easily replicate them at home.

“The best compliment we get is when people want to shop out of our displays because they love the way they look,” Theresa says. “That means we’ve done our job right - we’ve merchandised it properly.”

Spreading the Gardening Bug

Whether for advanced gardeners or those planting their first seed, Rockledge Gardens offers seminars and hands-on workshops to fine-tune customers’ gardening skills and share the latest design trends. “We want to be a place where customers feel comfortable and happy,” Theresa says. “We want them to discover the fun of gardening.”

She empowers her customers with monthly gardening education in-store, as well as online with expert gardening tips, “how-to” videos, FAQs from customers and specialized plant care information.

For kids, children’s workshops at the store teach the importance of gardening at an early age. “We have a Little Bugs Club once a month where we do an educational session and then kids bring something home,” says Theresa.
Rockledge Gardens works to ensure customers of all ages have a great experience at the store so they keep coming back. Theresa says, “We build personal relationships with our customers to make them feel like a part of our garden center family.”

Click here to read more Member Profiles.

IGC East Announces Baltimore Convention Center As Its 2015 Location, August 4-6

IGC East has just secured space at the Baltimore Convention Center and will convene at the widely popular venue August 4-6, 2015, as IGC Chicago returns to Navy Pier August 18-20, 2015. Both shows will offer all the features and benefits the industry has come to expect, including many thousands of new products, free inspiring keynotes and headliner concerts, plus scores of spot-on conference sessions and networking opportunities.

“Baltimore Convention Center is a venue that is comfortably familiar and prized by our industry - it’s home to the popular MANTS show in January, and the former home of the once-mighty, now-defunct Commerce Show,” says IGC Show Founder Jeff Morey. “While IGC East is certainly not a distributor show, our intention is to fill the void that’s existed since the Commerce Show left the scene in the East. Now, we’re excited to serve garden center buyers in the region, bringing the IGC Show’s signature all-category trade show, fully rounded educational conference, networking and one-of-a-kind fun and entertainment.”

IGC East’s location in Baltimore next summer offers world-class dining, shopping and entertainment along Inner Harbor, the city’s seaport destination rich in history and redeveloped into a premier tourist attraction. “Not only is the Baltimore Convention Center one of the most strikingly unique architectural centers in the United States, Inner Harbor in summertime is absolutely incredible,” Morey says. “During after-show hours, we’re looking forward to seeing IGC show-goers along the waterfront, enjoying the many attractions Inner Harbor has to offer.”

More details about IGC East and IGC Chicago, including next summer’s spotlight keynotes and concerts at both events, will be announced soon. For more information about the IGC Show, visit

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Garden Centers of America
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