For me, winter is a time to relax, reflect on how to improve from last year, and network. What better place to do that than at a trade show? Two regional shows to consider are New England Grows in Boston and The Mid Atlantic Nursery Trade Show, M.A.N.T.S, in Baltimore. For those of you who have never attended either show, here is a quick breakdown of each show.
There isn’t a better show for a combination of educational opportunities, networking and trade exhibits than New England Grows. The show offers three days of lectures covering business management and horticultural related topics, and a large trade show.
Along with the educational sessions, each of the trade associations has networking events throughout the show. The trade floor is a combination of equipment, tools and supplies, and nurseries. As a designer, if you’re considering switching from hand drawing to computer aided design, there isn’t a better place to play with all the design software on the market. With the software we use, I typically keep a list of questions that come up throughout the year and get those answered face to face at the show. This year, I actually sat at the booth of the software we use for close to an hour. Along with learning a bunch of tips and tricks, I saw a demonstration of the next big thing in design software, 3D animation. 3D animation will allow a client to walk through the project you’ve designed for them. The conversation also moved towards a demo of how to use dual monitors to speed up the design process.
A lot of people I talk to from CT try to do the show in one day. To get the most out of the show though, it really takes two days. I usually drive up the night before, get to the show first thing in the morning, stay a second night and leave after the second day. The last couple of years, I’ve been staying outside the city where the parking is free and the hotels are a lot cheaper. This year, I unknowingly booked a hotel on the T route so instead of driving into Boston every day and paying the $12 parking fee, I parked my car for the whole stay and paid $4 round trip for public transportation to take me into the city. FYI, it’s always fun to stay to the end of the show. Everything you see in the show is typically for sale and can be picked up right after the show ends.
M.A.N.T.S is another great show. The main focus of this show is plants. It caters to people who buy, sell and grow plants as well as all the related supplies involved in those tasks including landscape and garden items, tools, and plenty of other allied industry products. Unlike New England Grows, there aren’t any lectures at M.A.N.T.S and there’s not a lot of equipment to view. If you are looking for new plant suppliers, this is the show to come to, as there are nursery and plant suppliers, both large and small, from all over the country. It’s possible to do the show in a day if you don’t stop and talk to too many people. Baltimore is a fun city so it’s definitely worth a night in a hotel and possibly an extra day to walk the Inner Harbor.
If you’re looking for suppliers or a little inspiration, give one of the above shows a try. I enjoy both shows so I usually alternate between the two shows every other year.
All the Best!