Only Online: Spring Opportunities Had & Missed

What did growers think about Spring 2009? Here are some insights, including some thoughts about whether or not our industry is recession proof:

- “While I believe the recession is the number one problem for this year, the constant rain is probably going to turn buyers off for next year.”

- “As long as growers continue to produce quality greenhouse crops at reasonable prices, customers will continue to purchase plants for their homes regardless of economic conditions.”

- “I believe we used to be recession proof, but not today. So much of our business is dependent upon the sale of large, specialty items and people did not buy them as much this spring.”

- “I think in this business, we are not recession proof and in order to get through the tough times, we must think smart and be cautious. At the same time we must be very attentive to every customer’s needs.

- “Customer Traffic was good, folks just bought less.”

- “Increased costs are making it difficult for medium size growers to maintain margins.”

- “Due to the late spring a lot of growers reduced prices to the mass merchants way to early. This cost everyone lots money They will buy when the weather gets good. Reducing pricing when the stores are full and not selling does not create extra sales. It only costs growers money.”

- “More of our customers are not as quality conscious. Most are looking at the best margins they can have and still satisfy their customers. We are not getting financially rewarded for good quality.”

- “Our industry in greatly affected by weather. Because the weather in the Northeast was so bad this spring, it is hard to say how much, if any, the economy played on sales. The one definite trend I saw was the tendency of high-end independent garden center making its buying decisions based on price first, not quality. This has been an unusual occurance for us.”

- “Unless banks will offer credit for starting next season’s plants, we will be at the mercy of having to purchase more finished product, at more expense to us, causing us to raise our prices to the consumer. That is not the goal we had in mind. We would like to keep our prices lower by growing more at our own greenhouses.”

- “Herbs and vegetables seemed to have a big appeal to the 30-and-under crowd this year. A group our industry has struggled to attract. This may prove to be the spark that excites our next generation of gardeners. If successful with their edible gardens, they may have enjoyed the experience and want to graduate to bedding plants and beyond.

- “I still feel it comes down to having what the customer wants, when they want it and having product looking its best all the time.”

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