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Get an inside look at three highly successful Chicagoland independent garden centers during the IGC Chicagoland Garden Center Tour, a daylong opportunity to network with fellow garden center professionals and energize your business with fresh retail strategies. Sit back as the tour's on-board moderators reveal the best practices that put these IGC retailers on top in their market, then see for yourself what makes them so special with your own look. Get back to your hotel in plenty of time to enjoy dinner and nightlife in downtown Chicago. Transportation and lunch included. Conducted in conjunction with Garden Centers of America and The Garden Center Group. Sign up early, this tour is a favorite among IGC show-goers and has sold out in previous years! Lunch is included.

Departs Sheraton at 7 a.m. and returns at 6:30 p.m.

 2013 Tour Stops . . .


The Chicago Botanic Garden, with its world-renowned plant collections and displays, is among the country’s most visited public gardens and a preeminent center for learning and scientific research. Situated on nine islands surrounded by 81 acres of lakes, this 385-acre horticultural destination showcases 26 gardens and four natural areas that include prairies and woods. You’ll be amazed by more than 2.4 million plants from 9,084 different varieties. This broad collection, which focuses on plants adapted to the local climate and soils, is presented in landscaped displays for you to enjoy. Seventeen specialized collections are recognized both nationally and internationally. Themed displays include an aquatic garden, a bonsai collection, a fruit and vegetable garden, a Japanese garden, a native plant garden, a rose garden, a sensory garden and a waterfall garden. For more than 40 years, the Chicago Botanic Garden has forwarded its mission of promoting the enjoyment, understanding and conservation of plants and the natural world. As you stroll through these amazing gardens, you will discover countless ideas to bring back to your own display gardens now and in the seasons to come.



Abt Electronics, one of the largest independent single-store appliance and electronics retailers in the country, has continued to post double-digit percentage increases every year since it started in business in 1936. Abt provides a shopping experience like no other, with an 80,000-square-foot showroom and its own mini-mall of boutique shops like Apple, Bang & Olufsen and Sony. Popular attractions include a 7,500-gallon salt-water aquarium used to demonstrate the image quality of the store’s selection of cameras and camcorders, as well as an atrium with a fountain that evokes the famed Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. Abt started with an $800 loan and three employees, and now operates on more than 37 acres with a staff of 1,100 employees. While it is known for its broad selection of tens of thousands of products, Abt credits its ongoing success to staying true to family values and its dedication to customer service. Its technical in-house staff handles repairs, installations and service issues, and goes through continuous training to provide superior service. Abt’s commitment to delivering customer satisfaction and dedication to fair pricing has launched this indie into another realm in the consumer’s eyes.


Now is your chance to visit 2012’s IGC Retailer of the Year, Pasquesi Home and Gardens. See for yourself what makes this top independent a true standout. For more than 35 years, this ever-evolving retailer has been a community resource for home and garden products and advice. Evaluating the market and reacting quickly is key to Pasquesi’s success. Its broad assortment of offerings, which range from gardening to home decor and pet care to giftware, are testament to that. So is its new Market Square location at the Lake Forest train station, where commuters can pop in and grab what they need for their garden as they wait for the train or order and pick it up on their commute home. At Pasquesi’s full-scale stores, customers linger, strolling the gardens while sipping a complimentary cup of coffee and bringing their dogs to nosh on their favorite treats from the bone bar. The breadth and depth of product selections at the Lake Bluff store will get you thinking about category and product additions your garden center could successfully sell. The business, led by the second generation of Pasquesis, ranks No. 43 in IGC Retailer’s IGC 100 report with $11.5 million in sales.



Chalet is a true innovator, always looking ahead toward new opportunities to grow its customer base and profits. This spring, the retailer will launch Chalet’s Landscape Experience, inviting customers to tour its outdoor showcase and “begin to dream up the endless possibilities” for their yards and gardens. The landscape design plan, implemented during several phases, will wrap around the entire Chalet house, and will include outdoor living room exhibits, collections of sun and shade gardens, patios and landscape lighting. As part of the final phase of the rollout, a clay paver carriage walk will connect the outdoor rooms. Chalet takes pride in operating outside the box. In the 1950s, it added a pet department, and it was the first retailer to sell a Weber grill. Today, it is known for its garden education, hosting more than 80 sessions each year that teach 3,000 adult learners and 700 children, as well as reaching 500 people at off-site programs. Chalet ranks No. 16 in IGC Retailer’s IGC 100 report with $24.8 million in sales from its single location.

Gethsemane put down its roots 45 years ago on one city lot in Chicago. Now, this popular gardening resource for city and suburban gardeners alike spans two city blocks. Gethsemane is an urban oasis of garden delight, offering annuals, perennials, edibles, trees and shrubs to green up spaces in the city as well as the suburbs of Chicago. Unique and tasteful gifts are the focus of the Wild Pansy Gift Shoppe, where customers delight in rare teas, French linens and high-end kitchenware. Gethsemane’s Garden & Home Decor store, opened five years ago, spotlights decorative accessories and furniture for home and outdoor living spaces. The garden center makes strategic use of space, creating an enjoyable shopping adventure that encourages customers explore and linger. Gethsemane ranks No. 47 in IGC Retailer’s IGC 100 report with $10.5 million in sales from its single location.

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