“Summer nights in Chicago “should be a song title and it would have been appropriate for the latest IFE show held there, in the windy city, on June 20-22. The weather was lovely and the city from sunset till dawn was worthy of another trip to the center of the USA again next year.
Once again the IFE show was held in conjunction with three larger shows, United Fresh, FMI Connect, and Global Cold Chain Expo, all in the same enormous McCormick Center making this a really, really big show. For floral folks there was a comfortable floor layout that was easy to navigate with lots of room in the aisles. I am waiting for the official numbers from the show organizers regarding attendance and exhibitors vs. last year but I can certainly say that both are up and so was the excitement level.
It appears that there were enough quality buyers walking, stopping and shopping to make every exhibitor I spoke to very happy. This was not always the case in years past and a good sign that this show, with its impressive partners, has traction. The next show is back Chicago again on June 13-15 2017 in the same place although I understand a different part of the hall.
There were 188 exhibitors listed in the floral section and my guess is that this is up about 25% over last year. Many of the big names were there including Falcon Farms, Passion Growers, Elite Flowers, and Golden Flowers and many more.
The show hours were shortened by one day this year so perhaps it forced buyers to walk those aisles and “get-er done”!
I would rate this show 9.5 out of 10 based on the excitement level from the exhibitors. A good sign for floral and the future.
A not to be missed event is the Iron Designer Competition and Happy Hour hosted by Pieter Landman of Blooming Vision. This is a fun competition and you can guess by the name that it involves a bit of drinking or at least toasting. Moments before the event started each contestant was handed a beer adding to the spirit of the event.
In twenty minute flat each of the ten chosen contestants created an impressive arrangement from the products supplied.
In the end Adam Havrilla Owner of Artistic Blooms was the winner.
Laura Daluga Owner of Department of Floristry won the people’s choice award voted and chosen via a smartphone app!
John Daley of Floralife won the Flower Naming award.
There were also a number of quality educational events which I admit, I did not attend, since my mission was to witness and photograph the people and events happening on the show floor.
As I see it, for exhibitors, the basics of this show fall into two categories;
- Those wishing to attract supermarket buyers and secure one or two good leads that become customers.
- Those eager to meet up with their existing customers and attempt to keep them entertained and distracted so they don’t become the customers of those sought in #1.
As a result there are various perks that buyers are tempted with or entitled to on the show floor including after hour’s entertainment. Offerings from free pens and tote bags to complete carving stations with all of the fixings! Beer, Wine and Champaign!
One of the most popular after parties is the Floralife/Temkin party held each year at a local hot spot. Getting your hands on one of these tickets is a subject often over heard as you walk the aisles.
To the question that I am always asked, “What did you see new”?
As expected I saw many old friends and lots and lots of beautiful flowers packaged in endless combinations and a dazzling array of goods to accent them.
One new item that caught my attention was from Steve Daum of Floralife who told me that they have developed a solution that eliminated the need to re-cut fresh cut roses. They claim that this method really works and if so it could allow a florist who needs a 50 cm rose but must buy a 60cm to allow for the centimeters lost in cutting, to now just buy the less expensive 50cm.
Oasis/Floralife is a science based company so I don’t doubt their conclusions. However, I need to see more test results before I am ready to suggest that roses no longer need a fresh cut. I am happy to hear of this development and I am willing to test them on flowersandcents.com!
Finally the best new thing a saw was the happy faces of exhibitors and attendees and I think that is enough to call the show a success.
Please watch this video I made of the events here or on youtube, Please feel free to comment, you just need to be logged in. Thank You!