Susan says it all. For the record, I too am a "Mom-only operation", but fortunately my husband has a decent job of his own. To be honest, he's not the nursery type; the opportunity cost of keeping him down on the farm would be high. I am absolutely fascinated to hear what land costs are like in California. Here, you can pick up "unimproved" land, especially old farmland that's gone back to brush and young woods, for under $1000/acre in larger tracts. Heck, you can get a rundown old farmhouse with several acres for $79,000, probably less on a good day, and at that price you would actually expect it to have functioning utilities. Winters are a little rough, but summers and autumns are as beautiful as anywhere in the world. Our water supply is effectively endless (Lake Ontario if you have municipal water; wells are always a little dicier). Sounds like some of you should consider moving here. I know I would enjoy the company! Re labor costs for small employers: I decided years ago that I would rather pay a temp agency's markup than deal with all the Federal and state reporting, insurance, etc. All I get is one weekly bill; the agency does all the withholding, paying in, filing, etc. The markup is pretty steep, but then I don't need an accountant, so there's one less bill to pay. If I had to do all the paperwork associated with hiring, I wouldn't have time for anything else. At the end of the day, though, this is a grand way to live. There are very few black moods that can't be chased away by the sight of germinating seeds... Ellen, feeling balmy in upstate NY Seneca Hill Perennials Oswego NY USA Original Message: ----------------- From: Susan Hayek firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2006 13:44:28 -0800 To: email@example.com Subject: Re: [pbs] Bulbs for India/ mom n pop /speciality businesses At 9:18 AM -0600 12/4/06, James Waddick wrote: > I am inclined to say the basic reason is greed - too much >work and not enough profit. But there used to be lots of folks >willing to do this before. **Oh dear, I had to reply to this. We owned a specialty storefront (non-nursery) for 10 years after I injured my back. We were hoping we could augment our income; I was on disability and my husband, an ed psych was burning out. Greed? I was open 7 days a week, 10 am to 5 pm, and then I went home, ate dinner and spent the rest of the evening selling on the internet, eBay, and taking care of mail orders until close to midnight. Our rent (this was over 10 years ago) was $2,000/month, not including utilities (electric alone was $200-$300/month), telephone, fax, internet server, computer maintenance, advertising costs, shipping costs (it does cost $ to have UPS make daily pickups), etc . You have to have capital to buy suppies/merchandise. Telos isn't even a mom & pop. Diana runs it alone, a mom business. Her work is overwhelming. Watering, collecting seed, harvesting bulbs, shipping, printing and mailing catalogs, maintaining an internet website, cleaning, spraying, fertilizing, advertising, answering email and answering more email along with the demands of customers. Whew! When "there used to be lots of folks willing to do this", times were vastly different. Mom-pop businesses were not competing with world-wide businesses on the internet far larger than a single enterprise. In the past, every area did not have big-box stores who buy in bulk and can offer discount pricing. (I had a customer make an email inquiry asking if I could get an item he saw in WalMart, and when I tried to explain why I couldn't, he told me we were probably snooty and he couldn't afford us anyway.) Many mom/pop stores/businesses relied on family to help run the store/business. My children all have to work to support their own families. I couldn't pay them a living wage even if they had lived in the area; many wives/mothers now have to work, so they aren't free to help with family businesses. We had to eventually hire help. Once you employ staff, you have workers comp to pay, and I had to hire an accountant to help with all the paperwork involved with having employees. Employees come and go quickly because small businesses (and we paid higher than most) can't afford to offer medical/dental benefits, paid vacations, and most people can't live on the wages paid. We constantly fed the business, money went back in, and business are hungry beasts. Rents and land costs are now exorbitantly high. In the old days often family, and extended family, lived on the property. In CA, and we live in a depressed area in NorCal, acreage, when you can find it, runs $100,000 an acre and that's often without a house. Property taxes are high. And there is always natural disaster to contend with. We had a flood our second year open. We got a small loan, but anything above $10,000, we would have had to use our house as collateral. Considering we'd lost $30,000 worth of merchandise and suffered from lack of walk-ins (except those who wanted to look at the damage) for months, it took us a long time to get back on our feet. I have to agree with points made by both Ellen and Diana and Ken. Helping people in India would be dandy. Helping locals from our own areas would even be dandier. JMHO. s. -- susan hayek, North Coast of CA, USA, zone 9b, Sunset zone 17. 15 miles south of Eureka, CA, overlooking the Eel River, with a peek of the ocean. _______________________________________________ pbs mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/list.php -------------------------------------------------------------------- mail2web - Check your email from the web at http://mail2web.com/ .