I bought fruit trees from Raintree many years ago. They have good selections of fruit trees from different countries. But recent years, I am only lurking, not actually buying. The cost is the major issue.
Welcome to the forum James! I am glad to know there are folks like you trying to look ahead to the future. Investing in your infrastructure and especially your team members is a wise decision which will pay dividends for your business in the long run with loyalty and experience. Don’t forget that the quality and training of your employees are what will help your business to succeed It seems like you are already on the right track.
As @murky mentioned, I’d recommend making it known (and easily found) that you are investing in your employees future and give the reasons for higher prices (fuel, shipping, etc) so people understand. There are a lot of people in this world looking to support folks who take care of their employees and do the right thing, even if it means a higher price.
I have been buying from raintree since 2013. I usually make small purchases. You guys have replaced all that had failed for me. Maybe its where I shop but everybody charges a lot in my opinion. I have owned restaurants and understand the difficulty of being a small business owner. I like how you offer unique items sometimes the only nursery to offer the item. Like the New Berry blackberry. Which is an amazing blackberry. You stopped offering it and people keep hitting me up. Contact Oregon and get more of these please. I don’t have time to supply the requests!
If you seek out rare plants propagate and sell you would have an edge over many nurseries. The original owners had many unique items. Nowadays those items are more common thanksb to you guys. I would love to see the return of Old Mixon Free heirloom peach be offered again by a commercial nursery. I lost two grafts of it and will keep trying but would love a tree. It kills me to see heirlooms like this disappear. In this case it also is superior to modem white peaches too. Makes zero sense it’s not offered.
I send out half a dozen White D pineberries every year as it’s hard to find but is the biggest of all pineberries. It also appears to be self fertile too which many are not. It’s so easy to grow too. A disease resistant fast grower that thrives in the Midwest. It grows well in crowded conditions when most do not fruit in crowded conditions. It is a winner in so many ways. If you can seek and offer unique plants you will stand out.
I thought about helping you out with your request for help, but I just don’t have the time. My first order trees from 2013 are still around. Your plants are growing all over this country. I’m in Michigan. Good job and thank you very much!!
You get what you pay for. Fruit trees are not commodities although you can certainly find commoditized fruit trees out there.
I’ve watched mom and pop nurseries being shuttered all over the country for decades. Maybe a baker’s dozen still offer fruit trees by mail order at retail. Only a few of these - literally, a handful - specialize in fruits for the home orchardist.
Kudos to James and Rye Owens for keeping alive the sole source for many varieties of the trees and plants that they offer. Their custodianship of the genetic legacy that Sam Benowitz and his family built from raw dirt is a benefit to us all. We will be lucky to have them build on that legacy.
I think any fruit grower would do well to align themselves with the quality Raintree brand. The true benefit is in the association, not the remuneration.
I think part of the problem is too many people wait until later in life to start their dream of running a nursery and then they retire when the business should actually be in its prime.
The shutting down nurseries also happened to peony growers too. I think just last year there were 5 that I know of retired.
But just to remind people, when you run a business, if prices are in the ridiculous range, people will go elsewhere. I notice other nurseries have more varieties too.
I have a friend who did the MG course/certification. It can give access to experienced and educated instructors, but it sounded like a 100 level horticultural class for college. That is, how to look up answers. It is possibly good for the completely uninformed but for the knowledge to be usefully absorbed and experienced takes years." Master" is an embarrassing title for anyone to lug around.
I liked Sam and had a yearly carton of plants sent all the way across the US. The method of trucking trees half way before shipping them saved some bucks and I appreciated it.
You had to hit the ground running, and trying to build an ethical business to a new model probably made for even more stress. You will eventually hit the numbers you need if you can provide the quality that the market wants. But you sure have some headwinds now.
Everybody took advantage of ‘inflation’ since everyone else was raising the price of everything…they felt they could/should. Even postage went up 10% for the average person.
But, some over-did the % increases more than ‘inflation’.
Yeah, the experienced fruit growers will get a scion from somebody, they are not paying that ridiculous prices, that just leaves the home gardeners like myself to buy these fruit trees. I have a small fun budget to buy new fruit trees every year, so I do cringe at the expensive prices.
Sounds like a good reason for you to get into grafting then. It’s really not that hard. This is how life has always been… either you do things yourself or you pay someone else to do it and people have to make a living if they are going to do it for you.
I will try this year with a few jujube scions first.
It pains me to pay almost $100 for a tree and then see it died, it happened 2 years ago with a yellow Asian plum I bought either from Raintree or Grow Organic. So this year I’m not buying from either nursery.