Kate Spirgen kspirgen@gie.net

Ten years ago, Garden Center magazine published its first Top 100 list, featuring the highest-grossing independent garden centers across North America. Taking a look back at that first list from 2011, it’s clear that things have changed drastically for the industry.

Back in 2011, the combined annual revenue of companies on the list was roughly $30 billion. This year, that number is only about $1.3 billion. But the Top 100 still brought in about $30 million more in 2019 than in 2018. The IGCs on this list have found ways to battle the allure of the big-box stores and keep loyal customers coming back year after year.

While some names are familiar (and have been on the list since 2011), others are new just this year. You can read more about them inside.

We hope that over the past few years you’ve learned a lot from other successful IGCs, found some great ideas to implement at your stores and been inspired by their creativity and resulting success.

But there are many paths to success and many definitions of it. What might be one IGC’s mission might not be another’s. While profitability is always top-of-mind, gross sales might not be what’s most important to you and your staff at the end of the day. Sometimes growth isn’t in the cards and just maintaining is an achievement in and of itself.

Although we look at the Top 100 independent garden centers in terms of revenue this month, there are so many other top lists I wish we could do. I’d love to find the garden centers with the most loyal customers, the ones with the most knowledgeable staff, or the ones that have overcome the biggest challenges to stay in business. But, of course, that’s impossible to quantify.

No matter what size garden center you have or what types of customers you serve, you can always be the best of the best at what you do with the resources you have. We wish you all the success in the world, however you define it, in the coming year.