Among the 140 education sessions at the OFA Short Course in Columbus, OH, July 14-17, will be 30 for garden centers. The show is expected to draw 10,000 growers, suppliers, wholesalers and retailers and offer 1,500 exhibits at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
A sampling of sessions designed for garden centers includes “365 Days of Container Sales Ideas” with Christina Salwitz of The Personal Garden Coach, “Capture the ‘Buy Local’ Wave” with Stan Pohmer of Pohmer Consulting and “Hiring a Team Your Customers Will Love,” with Kathryn Daeger of Profitivity.
The Garden Center Live! exhibit will offer a Merchandising Concepts area filled with inspirational displays, a Marketing Lab staffed with experts, and the ever-popular Iron Chef-style Merchandising Contest. While at the Short Course, garden center buyers will have seven acres of trade show floor to shop, allowing inventory decisions to be a part of the show experience.
Two keynote presentations are especially relevant to garden center retailers this year. Joe Lamp’l (aka Joe Gardener) of “Growing a Greener World” and “GardenSMART” fame, will share ways to find and influence the ever-changing consumer. One key question, according to an OFA news release, is “Are our products, services and marketing messages relevant and even reaching our target markets?”
Sam Kass, White House assistant chef and senior policy adviser for Healthy Food Initiatives, will bring his passion for gardening and grow-your-own edibles to Short Course attendees in the second keynote presentation. Chef Kass is billed as a key adviser for first lady Michelle Obama’s national discussion of the importance of healthful eating. His message will speak directly to those on the front lines of the horticulture industry, the news release stated.
This year’s theme for the show’s floral design contest is “Home Improvement,” and includes the following three categories: Home as a Haven, an organic design using a sheltering technique; Home for the Holiday, a centerpiece celebrating the entrant’s favorite holiday; and Home DIY, a unique design including a re-purposed item from the home.
The five competitors with the top cumulative points from all three categories will compete in the Florist Design-Off and the winner will be named OFA Designer of the Year. The show will also feature a Corsage Bar, with volunteers cranking out floral creations.
OFA, the Association of Horticulture Professionals, formerly the Ohio Florist Association, is a nonprofit, all-industry organization serving garden centers, greenhouses, nurseries, retail and wholesale florists, and interior plantscapers. Its Short Course began in the early 1930s and is one of the larger flower shows of the year.