For the past few years, we’ve published a list of the Top 100 Independent Garden Centers in North America, ranked by reported annual sales volume. We revamped and reintroduced the list with 50 IGCs in 2013, and expanded to 100 in 2014 and 2015. Last year, we decided to go beyond numbers and dedicate the entire issue to telling the stories of 20 of the Top 100 Independent Garden Centers from across the country. This year, we are continuing that tradition.

The issue starts with a profile of Armstrong Garden Centers and Pike Nurseries, No. 1 on our list with a whopping 48 (and soon 49) stores throughout California, Georgia and North Carolina. You can read more about the business and how the company creates consistency between the brands here. Our list is about more than numbers, however, so you’ll see profiles of garden centers with single stores and several, from No. 1 to No. 99, throughout the issue. That includes Shelly’s Garden Country in Broomfield, Colo., No. 99 on our list, which is responding to the population boom of the western state and teaching customers how to grow in challenging weather conditions and at a high altitude. You can read more here.

KEN BLAZE

This year, we asked garden centers for a bit more information on our top 100 survey, including whether their businesses are family owned, if they offer landscaping services and if they grow their own plants. Data from these responses and other interesting findings, including oldest and youngest garden center, are reported in an infographic here.

Over the years, as many garden center businesses have grown and recovered from the 2008 recession, this list has grown along with them. This year, the combined total sales volume of all independent garden centers on our list is more than $1.1 billion, the highest in the recent history of publishing this report. All garden centers on the list have a reported sales volume of at least $1.5 million or more, and there was a five-way tie for the No. 99 spot on our list. Because of this, for 2016, there are actually 103 companies on our list. Thank you to all of the garden centers who participated this year and shared their stories, whether or not you were included. Without them, this issue, and all others, wouldn’t be possible.

Michelle Simakis, msimakis@gie.net