As I write this entry, I’m on a flight returning from the National Hardware Show in Orlando Florida. Hardware show you ask? Well it just so happens that this is also the venue for the largest lawn and garden expo in America.
Each year, any and every vendor that has anything to do with a lawn or gardening product is here. Everything from a mom and pop inventor with a brand new product they’re trying to introduce, to Mega companies like Scott’s Miracle-Gro.
My observation of this show is that the theme was clearly ‘green” this year. As expected, there were more organic or eco-friendly products than ever before. That’s a great thing to see and clearly reflects a response to consumer demands.
Although our eyes are always open, this show is the first place we come each year to seek out the next and newest candidates for the “joe gardener Best of the Must-haves (BOMH)”. Some years are more productive than others. Two years ago for example, the show proved to be a goldmine for great new products. I left that show feeling like I had come upon many great prospects.
The problem with having a really great year is that the next year will likely not be as good. I’ve learned that creating great new gardening products, ones truly unique and worthy of further scrutiny don’t come along every day. In fact, they don’t come along very often at all.
That was the case last year. I went to the Hardware Show in Las Vegas and was so disappointed with the lack of new, interesting products, I cut my trip short and came back the same day! Discouraged, I found myself questioning how long I could keep up high standards for a great new lineup each year. Thankfully, 2007 turned out to be a great year anyway in spite of a slow start.
This time, I did see a few potential candidates. Of course it will take some deeper digging but at least I didn’t feel shut out. I’d give you a hint as to what they are but I just can make any revelations yet.
You might wonder what I look for when I go. First, I’m looking for products I’ve never seen before. This show even has a new product section that features the newest introductions. I always get a sick feeling when I explore this section and don’t see anything impressive. Especially because I always go here first.
The next step is to walk the floor, row by row. This can be an intimidating task. It’s a massive endeavor. In fact, it’s difficult to see every booth in just one day, which is what I try to do. I’m also looking for the products I’ve become aware of through trade journals, etc. but have yet to see first hand. This is a chance for me meet the inventor or product rep and see and test drive the product. It’s also the time I ask lots of questions. On occasion, my interests are peaked and that product escalates as a possible candidate. Most of the time however, I eliminate the product for good.
My conclusion from now attending these shows for a number of years is that there are a lot of companies selling basically the same stuff, just with different wrappers. It’s still a necessary step in the search for the next great product to tell you about. I equate it to turning over a lot of stones to find that diamond. But that’s what we do to bring you the best. No shortcuts. It’s a long process but we’ll keep looking. I think we’re off to a good start for 2008.