January is the perfect time to attend the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS), known as the "Masterpiece of Trade Shows." It's the public's chance to chat with the 960 companies selling their wares to garden centers like Homestead. Among the 960 are plant growers from across the U.S., some with familiar names (like Proven Winners) and many you've never heard of. And the products! Fun new items you've never seen before, and improvements on old favorites, everything from tools to furniture to heavy duty equipment.
I've been attending the show for years now and highly recommend it to gardeners of all types. Unlike the fancy Philadelphia Flower Show and others like it, MANTS is all about the behind-the-scenes, about scouting for great new plants and products, and talking to the insiders that make gardening possible. Over 11,000 people attended last year.
It's open today and tomorrow from 9 to 5 and Friday from 9 to 2 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Admission is only $15 - much cheaper than the flower shows. Click here for all the details.
Below, I captured the wonderful Sandy McDougle selling her fabulous plants. Sandy's Plants in Richmond, Virginia grows Stepables for our region.
And look who else I discovered at MANTS last year!
More BIG Trade Shows
So now you know one of the ways that Homestead buyers find great products to offer our customers - by attending shows like MANTS. But that's not the only humongous must-see show going on this month. Next week in Atlanta our home furnishings buyer will be attending the unbelievably big America's Mart, a show for gifts and home furnishings. It's so large, with over 4,000 permanent showrooms and many temporary ones, that strategic planning is required of attendees because you can't possibly see it all.
And later this month our houseplant buyer will be flying to Ft. Lauderdale to attend the mother of all tropical plant shows - the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition. That one I'd love to attend because by late January I could use a dose of the tropics.