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Re: Starting a nursery

Chris, much of this depends on how you intend to sell and how much you are willing to spend on advertizing. Will you strictly go via the internet? If that is the case then you know how much it costs to get yourself ranked. Will you add a shopping cart and have full inventory control? My advice for what's it's worth is start slow and allow demand to build for you. You don't have to have hundreds of species or varieties to begin with. There are lots of specialty nurseries out there and when they are sold out they are sold out.

You should read some of the stuff that Tony Avent has written. He has many tips on what to do when you are out of product and the best ways to advertise. This is nearing the end of my fourth year. We started with 1,000 plants sold only locally and this year we will have sold over 8,000 with about 1/3 of that through the internet. This without even a shopping cart on the site. We now have somebody working on a fully intergrated web site with shopping cart and controls with hopefully top rankings on Google. And we only had one species of plant.

I think more important than how many plants or varieties you have is that you are able to deliver the plant to the customer in excellent shape. And when something does go wrong...and it will...that you are right up front with them and you ship them off new plants immediately without so much as a whisper of argument. Because the computer is inherently impersonal and the customer is taking a real chance by placing an order with you you have to go way out of your way with customer service trying to make your business as personable as possible. Plants, especially flowers, put a smile on peoples faces. Bad service or bad product does the opposite. Plants are emotional products rather than hardware and you can make or break your customers satisfaction by doing just a little extra that costs you little but puts smiles on faces and money in the register.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Christopher P. Lindsey" <lindsey@mallorn.com>
To: <gardenchat@hort.net>
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2005 8:39 PM
Subject: Re: [CHAT] Starting a nursery

In general you're locked into the way the wholesaler sells them. Walters
likes 25s and some 20s, while other suppliers sell in 16s or 32s...or
whatever fits the plastics they use. Bluestone gives price breaks in
10cent increments. One price for 6, another at 18 and another at 36.
That's one nice thing about Sunshine. Yes, he sells in 100s, but you can
make up that 100 any way you want - 6 of this and 30 of that.
But what I mean is, how many should I have?  If someone sells them in
groups of 6, should I only carry 6?  What's considered normal inventory
for a new mailorder nursery?

For example, I only have 4 Aronia prunifolium right now.  Is it worth
getting more?  I think it's a great landscape plant, but I obviously
don't want to end up stuck with more expensive inventory.  And only
10 Geranium 'Tiny Monster'.

I know it's a guessing game, but I'm trying to figure out the upper and
lower limits.  Is a successful plant going to sell 12?  24?  I know that
I won't sell more than 12 Dennstaedtia punctilobula or 6 Eupatorium
purpureum 'Little Joe' because they're not particularly mainstream right
now, but what about the hottest new Tricyrtis?

Or am I wrong?  Will I sell lots of those plants that I mentioned?


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