Hello good people of Growing Fruit! I’m James, and my wife Rye and I own Raintree Nursery.
I thought I would chime in and introduce myself, and answer some of your questions. Feel free to ask me more, and I’ll reply to them as I have time.
I thought I would clarify, my wife and I bought Raintree almost 5 years ago from the original owner, Sam. We are not some big corporation. I was in construction prior to this and Rye owned a pie business. We put our life savings into buying Raintree, because we lived in WA we couldn’t stand to watch them close. We took out an SBA loan to purchase it, which means that Raintree has a mortgage for the first time.
I see people are wondering why our prices have increased over the last few years. It is due to several different reasons. One of them is shipping costs. It has become about 2x more expensive to ship the same size plants, and rather than charging more for shipping, we include some of it in the price of larger items as we fear people would not actually buy the trees if they got charged with shipping that is sometimes more expensive than the tree itself.
And lastly, we decided when we took over Raintree that every employee should be paid a livable wage. We have increased employee wages by about 30% over the last few years, and always give raises that match inflation. We also were able to get them health insurance, and a 401k retirement savings plan, which is not at all common in our industry. We believe that business owners in the US have a duty to their employees to do this. Raintree actually doesn’t make any more money than it did before we assumed ownership because we have been reinvesting it into our team, our buildings, our propagation program, and sourcing more quality plants. We do not like to raise prices either but inflation on all things, from fertilizer, soil, pots, boxes, tools, fuel, and more has to be accommodated to stay in business.
Rye and I are committed to continuing Raintree’s legacy of offering interesting fruit cultivars to growers all over the US, and this is easier said than done. We have been so proud to watch our generation take up the reins the last few years and engage more with the growing-side of life.
I love talking about Raintree, and the industry in general. So please, if you have more questions for us, reply on this thread and we can try and answer them for you.
James & Rye