Bulbs for India/ mom n pop / specialists

Kenneth Hixson khixson@nu-world.com
Mon, 04 Dec 2006 12:44:28 PST
Dear All:
	To add to Diana's comments, consider this:  The cost of
actually growing a plant is probably only a quarter to a third of the
retail price.  The remainder is advertising, packing and shipping,
"overhead", taxes, etc.  Then there are things like "opportunity
cost", ie, the $100,000. that was spent to buy the land could
have been invested in bonds, with certainly less risk and a more
certain return on the money than investing it in agriculture.
Add the taxes on the land (or gross sales), the cost of obtaining
the various licences, liability insurance if you sell locally, etc.
Growers need to live and eat, so there has to be a "profit" of
some sort.
I finally closed my nursery.  The various governments wanted
endless amounts of paperwork, and didn't care that they wanted
it when I needed to be doing things with the plants.  I started
working for someone else eight hours a day instead of sixteen
or eighteen, and don't worry about filling out endless paperwork
anymore.  I also quit plowing all my profits back into the business,
and suddenly felt much better off financially.

As Diana said, education is and probably should be part of the
expense of selling a plant--your customers should know how
hardy the plant is, whether it needs sun or shade, excellent
drainage, when to divide if it needs it, etc.  In other words, whatever
it takes to be satisfied with their plant purchase.

When I had a small specialty nursery (growing rhododendrons),
I had to compete not only with the "Home Improvement" stores,
but even the local grocery store and drugstore chain a half mile
away.  They brought in plants in pots from growers who sold off
the poorer quality stuff at reduced prices.  Plants were set on the
blacktop of the parking lot, their clerks didn't even know enough
to water when needed.  I was growing all my own stock, and knew
how it was grown, what it was likely to  need,  could tell my
customers how to grow the plants, and couldn't sell at the prices
the chain stores could offer. I'm sure they sold many times
more plants than I ever did.  You were lucky if they could give
you a price, let alone anything else.

The local, long established nurseries managed to stay in business
by doing landscaping, selling christmas trees, etc.  They didn't keep
many permanent staff, and if you asked a clerk at a nursery, they
usually didn't know much either.

My suggestion to Joe Shaw would be that money could most
helpfully be spent by getting the local governments to support the
small growers by providing licenses, inspections, export licenses
etc at no cost until the growers reached a certain level of gross
sales.  Marketing, Technical expertise, and start up funds would
also help, but that probably isn't the biggest problem.

until the growers managed to

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