While it has become standard and customary for me to check this forum or Dave’s Garden for more information about a particular nursery, I know that the average person is much more likely to utilize Google maps reviews or other “social media” sites like yelp to try and find a good place to buy plants.
I think that the best compliment you can give a good nursery is to write a recommendation showing your support. Some people like to write bad reviews which is also valuable information, but writing a positive note is a great way to provide free advertising to your favorite businesses and ensure they keep getting customers to stay in business. I’ve checked a few places I really liked and they have very little feedback, which is a shame.
So while you are enjoying the holidays, consider spending some of your free time spreading cheer and make a few reviews. I am going to be doing the same.
I have found reviews are a complicated thing. Many who are dissatisfied will write a bad review freely and without a second thought. If they get a good experience many just go on their way. We are not even talking about the fake reviews that are out there. Heck I have found websites or stores where they claim to have a google review presence but I can’t actually find the reviews on google.
I recently gave a nursery a great review and received bare root from them a couple of weeks ago and they sent me the wrong plants.
I think i am at around 5 or 6 times getting the wrong plants. No clue how that is possible…the tags always look nice and printed professionally. Yet they dont match the invoice. They then have to ship again at their own cost to fix the issue.
I will know next year all in which TyTy screwed me on. It takes a few years to figure it out…by then there is nothing you can do anyways.
Against every brain cell that i have i have again ordered some things from Willis Orchard. They have a few things that nobody else has and i gamble. So far 1 out of every 2 things they send me is dead or wont thrive.
My biggest pet peeve are the wholesale nurseries that will not sell to the public. I guess if it were me i would set up a small offshoot of my main site and sell at 3 or 4X wholesale prices… i would likely make hundreds of thousands of dollars doing so… but for some reason they wont.
My other pet peeve is the nurseries that pop up in a search along with plants/trees and prices but WILL NOT ship. So much revenue has to be lost with this policy.
One nursery I sometimes frequent has signs and internet site that says Not Open to the Public. So…some lady comes in…looks around for half an hour and nobody says hello, and she goes home and puts a naughty post on some internet site.
And the business posted underneath: Glad you had a bad experience, as (name omitted) doesn’t do business to the public.
Some do straddle the fence successfully, but many a large orchard, farm, builder, landscaper, garden center…refuses to buy from a company that also sells to their customers. (And I don’t blame them!)
I recently purchased 5 bare root plants from Willis Orchard. They shipped on time as promised, looked good and labeled correctly but only time will tell if they will be alive in the spring. I was hesitant after reading some reviews but gave them a chance as they’re located only a few states away and the prices/shipping seems reasonable.
I think there is a website listed on Dave Wilson’s online sellers that does not ship despite Dave Wilson’s site claiming they do. I forget which one it is. The nursery that always seems to have what I want is Idiggreenacres.com. I swear they seem to have every plant I have looked for and have an online website but do not ship. I have found that between Bay Laurel, Burnt Ridge Nursery, Raintree and One Green World those websites will cover nearly if not all plants that will grow where I live so I just order through them.
We have do not enter signs/no trespassing signs in the back of our building. We still have people enter the back of the building who should not be there though. We had a person enter the back looking for their mail one time. A big offender was there was a lady that used to come in the back unannounced and drop off her packages every day instead of coming to the front. Everyone who worked there had talked to her about it asking her not to do it because she is not an employee. Every time she was confronted she claimed she was actually helping us and just repeated that until she left and would just come back the next day. One day we had a new temp person in charge and the temp person said they had taken care of her. Since the temp person in charge said they took care of her I have never seen her again. Still unsure how how he handled that.
For the wholesale part I can imagine some reasons, staffing mostly and all the associated overhead for doing retail. Staffing and training, your wrong labelled plants are probably mistakes by inexperienced staff. Also wholesale would operate differently, regular orders would be going out on palettes and billed to accounts… and then your customers are shops doing the retail, so why compete with them. I ordered a couple palettes of cherry trees last year from a wholesale grower and customer service was great, they called several times to check on the delivery etc and answer questions, something you wouldn’t to for retail.
My nursery is just mail order since it’s in my backyard, I’ve thought about what it would be like to throw up a sign and have retail traffic dropping by all the time… much more relaxed just doing online. Propagation is enjoyable and it’s easier to sell bulk plants to one customer than many transactions… maybe I’ll end up doing a mix of online retail and wholesale.
It has been along time ago since I heard someone mention Jung Seeds. I bought from them years ago because they were so dang cheap. At the time I did not know the differences between bare root, a 3 inch pot, a gallon pot etc. The plants were healthy but small. Not any smaller than a stark tree or bush but small none the less. If you wanted a variety they sell and don’t mind a small but there is no issue to that though. I would say Jung is like a hurts garden where they will be small but you pay very little. I even remember shipping was nothing compared to other companies. I think the same year I bought from Whitman Farms and in comparison Whitman farms charged me 20 or 25 dollars for shipping and Jung Seed charged me something like 9 dollars. Kind of wish I still had the blueberries from Jung and the Girardi Dwarf from Whitman farms but at the time I was just getting plants and throwing them away because I wanted to stay at the 4 pot range.
Unless you get somewhere like Hartmanns that does both but slightly differently, I think you are spot on with not cannibalizing your own business model.
I’m on the cusp of deciding how I want to go about this myself (likely on a very small scale). I don’t mind (and generally enjoy!) all of you, but in general I’d have to say that I prefer the company of plants to most people. Mail order tends to support that preference.
On the West Coast, most wholesale nurseries sell to commercial fruit growers and not to retail nurseries. For them, having a small retail operation makes sense, since these sales go to backyard growers and do not interfere with their wholesale customers. Fowler Nurseries in Newcastle, CA do that — most of their business is wholesale to commercial orchards, but during the bareroot season they set up a small area with sawdust-filled boxes near their offices and sell bareroot trees to retail customers. In past years, that retail operation was open only Friday–Saturday, but in 2023 they expanded to Monday–Saturday.
My biggest beef is that nurseries will send an alternate if they run out, so you have to say “no substitutions”. I ordered a dwarf Lapins for my underground greenhouse and got a standard, which I had to tear out. The list of nurseries has really shrunk the last 20 years. I had a neighbor lady who ordered three apple trees from a nursery (at my advice) from a nursery and she planted them and they all died. The next year I had her order the same ones, I went over and checked on them and she had not watered them in (the kiss of death in low rainfall areas). So, some bad reviews are the fault of the gardener. Being in Montana and ordering from a nursery in Georgia, I plan on getting the worst of the lot.
I know EdibleAcres, a nursery I follow quite regularly, does majority online sales/mail orders. On occasion they do have flash local sales, they use youtube to announce it, and it only runs through a weekend. Just gotta keep the stock moving, that’s what they say and confess too - although if things don’t get sold they have space on their landscape to pop it in for the next year.
That stuff happens with new gardeners. I remember when I first started gardening myself I bought pepper seeds from Refining Fire Chiles. I remember it was along time before the seeds germinated and many failed because of what was likely dampening off. I complained on a Facebook pepper growing forum. Either people on the forum talked to him about it or he saw it himself because the owner called me personally yelling at me and told me never to order from him again. I got a mulberry from Whitman farms in a 1 gallon pot. I did not understand at that young of an age I had to protect them. A animal ate half my mulberry overnight. When I first tried to get trees that could come in dwarf size I got dwarf trees despite my area being a heavy drought area. If you are concerned about watering these are things that really matter in dry areas like mine. These are things experienced growers who have grown years may understand but new gardeners may not. I ordered a semi dwarf Montrose Apricot this year early on. They decided they were not to sell the semi dwarf tree this year which while not a big deal for me could be for someone else. Last year Stark Bros ran out of 5 in 1 apple trees in March and tried offering me a 4 in 1 for only a 10% discount and then gave me store credit when I said no which I was displeased with.