Group bulb orders

Jane McGary
Sun, 24 May 2009 11:12:19 PDT
One of the topics discussed at today's Board meeting was the 
possibility of organizing group bulb orders so that U.S. members 
could obtain bulbs from foreign suppliers at wholesale prices and 
with a minimum of expense for CITES and phyto certificates, shipping, 
and other costs. We agreed that this should not be done through the 
BX, whose manager, Dell Sherk, already shoulders a big responsibility.

I'd like to start a discussion on this forum to find out how many 
members would be interested in ordering, what categories of bulbs 
they would like to order (tropical? South African? hardy?), and 
suggested suppliers.

I've done something like this myself, and here is how it worked:
1. Somebody (a noble soul) volunteers to be the manager.
2. The manager obtains catalog/pricelists from suppliers and sends 
copies of them to any Society member who requests them. (Note that 
we're proposing that this service be available only to PBS membvers.)
3. Participants submit their orders by a stated date.
4. Manager collates the orders, keeping records of who ordered what 
and how many, and sends the total order to the supplier.
5. The supplier ships the total order to the manager, who will 
probably have to walk it through air freight and customs offices.
6. The manager notifies the participants by e-mail of how much they 
owe for bulbs and shipping, adding a percentage for handling (this 
handling fee is kept by the manager in return for his or her work).
7. Participants IMMEDIATELY pay their bills to the manager, who must 
pay the supplier within 30 days.
8. Manager separates and repacks each participant's order and mails 
it (by Priority Mail, for which you can obtain free boxes) as soon as 
participant has paid.

It will look like the tricky part is getting the participants to pay 
immediately. However, in my experience selling bulbs and sending 
invoices with the shipment, almost everyone pays quickly, and nobody 
has ever ripped me off. Gardeners are a pretty honest bunch!

Although this activity is being proposed as a benefit of PBS 
membership, it is not planned that the Society will expend or receive 
any money from it.

The benefits of participating in such a project are as follows:
1. You can order retail quantities at wholesale prices if enough 
people want the same item.
2. You share the expense of phytosanitary and CITES certification; 
the latter is extremely costly.
3. You may be able to order from specialist suppliers who normally 
would not ship small orders overseas.
4. You can get the items via air freight, instead of ordering them 
through a domestic retailer who gets them by sea freight and has them 
sitting around going bad for weeks.

It's too late to start a project like this this year, unless orders 
from the Southern Hemisphere were wanted. However, to get orders from 
Europe we would need to have a manager ready by about next March. 
Let's start discussing it now!

Best regards,
Jane McGary
President, Pacific Bulb Society

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