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RE: Hosta Ramblings---and milking the AHS membership


Thanks for your response. Below I quote one statement you have made and I
will go on to explain my stand a little further.
"Maybe there are some folks, but I know I'm a lot more comfortable "buying
names" than I am buying "no-name" plants."

Andrew Lietzow
The Emerging Hostaholic

I think maybe I did not make myself clear with my statement "buying names".
I do not mean that I  have a preference for buying hostas with no names over
buying hostas with names. I do not buy hostas without names as a rule.

For instance someone that did not know better may think that they need all
of the named sports of 'Sum and Substance'that are similar to 'Lady Isobel
Barnett'. If you bought each these almost dozen similar looking sports you
would have increased the count of your hosta collection by 12 and you would
have supported many hosta introducers and hosta nurseries. What you would
have done little of is to increase the interest of your hosta collection. I
am not saying all of these sports are equal (I happen to have one that is
superior to all of them,$50ppd.), all I am saying is that they are very
similar in appearance and growth habit.

This is not an isolated example of how someone who collects "by name" gets a
little less than they bargained for. There are many, many look alike hostas
being sold under different names. It is a mistake to believe that adding a
new name to your hosta collection means you have added a distinct new hosta.

I am a firm believer in mass planting of hostas. When I see some of the
hosta gardens on tour at the AHS national conventions that have one each of
a thousand different named hostas I question what motivates the collector. I
believe it is a game of collecting and counting names. If the same money
were spent on multiples of outstanding hostas that have proven garden
performance there is no doubt in my mind that this "garden" would be much
better looking.

Hostas are at a point in their history where it is impossible for a
collector to keep up with all of the new introductions. This is just as well
because in time at least 75% of these new introductions will disappear from
the trade because they are not worth growing. Daylilies have been down this
path already and hostas are hot on their heels.

I have to admit to not being very interested in "supporting the channel of
distribution". A least 75% of my hosta money gets spent on proven cultivars
that are available from tissue culture labs such as Winterberry Farms, Miss
Vitro, Breeze Hill, Shady Oaks and Q and Z. These happen to be the same labs
that are producing the limited runs that so many are paying so much for.
I'll take a dozen t.c. liners of a proven beautiful hosta over a shot in the
dark so many people are taking when buying new hosta introductions by name
and price.

Patience will get you a lot more for your money.

Dan Nelson

PS. I notice your point of view is that of someone who wants to make money
selling hostas while mine is that of someone who wants to get the most
hostas for their money. I have little desire to support "price skimmers".


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-hosta-open@mallorn.com
[mailto:owner-hosta-open@mallorn.com]On Behalf Of Andrew Lietzow
Sent: Tuesday, September 05, 2000 10:17 PM
To: hosta-open@mallorn.com
Subject: Re: Hosta Ramblings---and milking the AHS membership

Well, Bob Axmear will be glad to know that I finally did it--Dan Nelson got
me going on this one, so I spent the whole afternoon writing a reply only to
find out, after I'd sent it, that I had exceeded Carolyn's limit on number
of lines in a message.  So...I've blown the mask so to speak.  Gotta watch
that verbosity. LOL!!!

So, let me summarize.   Dan, I don't agree.  Price "skimming" is a well
recognized marketing technique as a pricing strategy and is highly
preferable to price penetration, IMO.  With skimming, you make money while
others ramp up to try and provide product and take advantage of what are, by
definition, above average profits.  With penetration, you price products so
low that the competition can't justify even trying to sell into the market.
Mass merchandisers penetrate and annihilate, adding little value to the
distribution channel.  Price skimmers, tend to add lots of value; extensive
education for the consumer, attention to detail in stock mix, above average
quality and service, and generally offer good cause for the consumer to want
to pay at a higher pricing point--they get something they cannot readily
obtain somewhere else.

While it is true that someday, today's $100 Hostas may become $5 Hostas, for
the AHS to encourage mass distribution in any manner seems not only
ludicruous, but contrary to any good marketing strategy that is designed to
support the channel of distribution.  As the product moves out to the
consumer, there must be adequate profit potential for the channel members to
survive.  To do otherwise would force the consumer to drive to the
hybridizer's house or nursery, make their purchase, then go on to the next
hybridizer's pad for another, and on to another, etc.  Not bad if you live
down the street from a few hybridizers, but quite a different problem if you
live across the country.  Somebody has got to collect, grown-on and
distribute the product.  And while we may not want to collect all 2,000
varieties, 50 varieties does not a Hosta nursery make.

There needs to be legitimate profits available to the channel or we could
all be buying $2.97 Hostas at the local discount center or grocery and be
limited to 50 varieties.  They would be unmarked or mislabeled and there
wouldn't be a soul on the premises that could tell you if it was a Hosta,
let alone what KIND of Hosta.  The mass merchandiser is not in the business
of enhancing the enjoyment of the gardening experience for the
consumer--they are in the business to move product quickly, period.

The higher the price of the product, the better it is for everyone.  Who
wants to pay $100 for an unnamed Hosta that you don't know what it is
(unless you can have a chance to register it--that might be different).
Maybe there are some folks, but I know I'm a lot more comfortable "buying
names" than I am buying "no-name" plants.

Andrew Lietzow
The Emerging Hostaholic

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