Re: CAT: Remember that Bonus Irises are FREE
- Subject: Re: [iris-talk] CAT: Remember that Bonus Irises are FREE
- From: email@example.com
- Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2001 05:05:21 EDT
In a message dated 8/28/2001 11:14:39 AM Mountain Daylight Time,
I would have to assume that bonus rhizomes are included in their costs by
the canny businessmen and women who run iris nurseries. So are they REALLY
free? If no bonus plants were distributed, would the costs of iris rhizomes
Not looking a gift rhizome down the fan, you understand, just curious about
the economics of it all...... >>
I don't pretend to speak for everyone, but in my experience with both
societal and commercial sales the distribution of bonus plants had no
significant economic impact beyond that of satisfied customers and repeat
business. I realize that sounds strange to anyone who hasn't been on the
supply-side of the operationm -- so I'll elaborate:
For some years, I was co-chair of the ASI Plant Sale. Societal sales such as
this depend on member donors. Some donors sent extras but others could't
even send what was pledged. Inevitably, we had to dig substitute/bonus
rhizomes from our own gardens to make up the shortage.
We coped by asking for substititution/bonus suggestions. If we HAD to
substitute, we'd try to do so from that list but if we didn't have to
substitiute we'd try to select the bonus iris from it. Of course, we honored
requests for refunds rather than substitutions, but there was period when
supplies were so short that anyone who opted for a refund was automatically
eliminated from consideration for bonuses.
In short -- prices were based on what was pledged, adjusted for age &
scarcity, while bonuses were based on what was contributed above & beyond the
material that had been pledged. Eliminating bonuses would NOT have meant
that we could lower prices.
My experience with a commercial operation was QUITE different. Instead of
one massive effort of receiving, sorting, and repackaging there was an
extended period of digging-to-order.
To take a typical weekend:
Saturday -- digging, cleaning, labeling, and sorting into flats all cultivars
on all orders scheduled for Monday's shipping. If there was even one order
for a recent introduction, this meant digging a clump -- which in turn meant
that there were extra bloom-size rhizomes. These extras would first be used
to make up Surprise Packages, then any that were left would go into the Bonus
pool. By the end of the day, even if it came in the wee hours of the morning,
I'd have another digging list for the things needed to [horrors!] subtitute,
round out the Surprise Packages, or provide the promised level of Bonuses.
Sunday -- usually a blessedly short digging list for completion of Surprise
Packages, which would automatically provide more bonus material.
Monday -- shipping by Priority Mail, which typically ensured Wed-Fri delivery
anywhere in the U.S. because most customers wanted to be able to plant on a
Obviously, a much larger Bonus Pool to work with, but:
1. Could catalog prices have been lower if the percentage of bonuses had
No -- so many items sold out completely at the listed price that I believe
lower prices would simply have meant overselling and, therefore, a number of
2. Could catalog prices have been lower in subsequent years, if material
sent as bonuses had been replanted for increase?
Not likely, because of space limitations. If those rhizomes had not gone
into the bonus pool, they would have been replanted -- but instead of rather
than in addition to the lower-quality ones. Thinking of all the times
something oversold and had to be withheld for increase, I can see that
lowering the percentage of bonus material MIGHT have produced a wider catalog
selection in later years -- but in that case the customer's cost-per-rhizome
would actually have gone up.
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