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Re: Future Hosta Market WAS Robyn's Nest Nursery dot com...

Josh Spece wrote:

> When
> selling locally (which is mostly what I do) do you think you are more
> limited?  Obviously, there will be some collectors that will pay for
> more pricey plants, but most of the public isn't going to spend much on
> a single plant.  What are some other things that would be done
> differently in a local retail nursery than a mail order nursery?

I could be wrong, because I only know what we sell, but I think you would be surprised at how much more
money is spent on reasonably priced hostas in the $10-15 range than on expensive plants.  It's fun to
sell rare, expensive plants, but I would bet that you'll make more money selling to gardeners than
collectors.  I'm sure that everybody's business is different, and it's probably a lot easier to sell
expensive plants if you are a well known breeder, but for us, the expensive plants bring in far fewer
dollars than those in the mid range.

I think the biggest problem facing mail order nurseries is the cost of advertising.  A 1/12 page, black
and white ad in Horticulture Magazine costs about $1000 a month, depending on how often you run it. Fine
Gardening is less, but doesn't reach as many people, and classifieds are considerably cheaper but not
nearly as effective.  If you don't advertise, I would think it would be difficult to reach far beyond
the  membership of the Hosta Society and the people who participate on the web forums, and there are a
lot of people competing for those sales. The internet is nice, but again, if you don't advertise, you
are depending to a large extent on the same people.  There are 34 different vendor links listed at the
Library alone, all competing for those same dollars.  Aside from Tony Avent, who is obviously a special
case, how many hosta growers are widely known outside our small community?  Shady Oaks is the only one I
can think of, and they advertise regularly.

I just got out my calculator and put in the following meaningless numbers.  There are about 4000 members
of the AHS.  Suppose half of them buy plants by mail, and I think that may be optimistic.  Say each of
those 2000 people spent $500 a year mail-order, and I think that's very optimistic.  That gives us a
million dollars in sales.  If you divide that equally just between the 34 sellers listed at the Library,
it comes to less than $30,000 each per year.  That's sales, not profit.  Better hope your sales are
above average.  Of course, I just made all those numbers up, so they might not mean a thing.  But if you
are thinking of investing your time and money, it's something to consider.


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