Plant Sale Guidelines & Criteria

nwgatreasures(7)May 14, 2009

To those of you who have experience with conducting a plant "sale" - do you have some suggestions for guidelines (or perhaps some guidelines already in place) that you can share for our group as we move forward.

Here's what I'm trying to eliminate:

- last minute (pull plants off my shelf and bring to the sale with me) kind of contributions that aren't labeled, wicked or potted correctly

- plants that obviously/visibly have BBB, or other pest infestations

- last minute (as in 10 minutes before the sale begins) labeling or pricing

Those are some off the top of my head. I was very pleased overall with how our recent plant sale went. The best part for me was meeting people and sharing our love of the plants. Even as much as I tried to think of everything in advance, I realize that I can't........I also realize that each event is an opportunity to improve over the previous and having more ideas can often help move the improvement at a quicker pace.

(and here's the big but)

The efforts of the people who prepared well in advance and came with their plants labeled and in good condition were diluted by the people who fit the description in my first elimination point. I had to throw plants out before they ever were placed on the table. We clearly need some "criteria and guidelines" for the next plant sale, which we hope to be able to hold in the fall of this year.

I was hoping that many of you more experienced sellers/growers might have something to contribute.

Thanks in advance,


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Hi Dora,
AT our show two weeks ago we sold starter plants for $6.50 each and Optimaras in 4" pots for the same price. Member grown plants were a bit cheaper depending on their size. Most were in solo cups and sold for $3.00 each. Other gesneriads were sold for $7.00, most of these were Streps in a 3" pot and all had bloom on them. We also had some member grown chirtas in 3" pots and sold them for $7.00 also. Leaves were bagged two to a bag and sold for $1.50 each. We also sold potting mix for $2.50 for a quart bag. A lot depends on the area you are in. One club I know is not in an affluent area could not get the same prices that we got and on the other end of the spectrum I have seen plants and other materials for more money in a wealthier community. I have seen show plants sell as high as 25 dollars and in fact last year I sold one of my extra Funambules for 12 at our show.
Fred in NJ

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 2:22PM
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You will always have those that leave it to the last minute, whatever the task at hand. In an effort to head off that situation, what is the possibility of 'setting up' the day before the sale? If you had a deadline for accepting plants for the sale, you can eliminate those that chose not to prepare. It would also give you an opportunity to evaluate what is brought in and check for an acceptable level of quality.

The quality of sale plants is another issue. There needs to be some guidelines about that. Obviously, plants with pests or disease stay home. As far as wicks, not everyone will wick, but it can always be cut off. Some would prefer to repot their own plant.

If one has a plant in bloom and has non-blooming starts of that plant, it's a good selling point to have the bloomer for display. Leaves in a 'kit' can be good sellers, as can rooted leaves. The kit would be the leaf, in some soil in the corner of a baggie for hanging. A label can give instructions.

Frankly, Dora, I would print your post and read it at the meeting when you discuss the next sale. You pretty much said it there. You know who the procrastinators are, they know who they are, and some kind of extended hand to help them prepare ahead may be enough to get them off their butts. Or at least be prepared to not have their plants accepted for sale....

Some people feed off the chaos of 'last minute', and it is their way of life. They will suck the life right out of those that come prepared.

Barbara (not always prepared, but always wanting to be)

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 2:40PM
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Oh, Barbara - your post was such a validation.
@ Fred - we don't have problems pricing...we had problems with procrastinators and since I've only been pres. for 4 months, there was no starting point until our most recent sale. I am not the kind of leader who is willing to go with the flow and whatever shows up whenever will be ok. That's not me. I was embarrassed to see some of the things that I saw and actually told some people to not purchase certain plants. Is that bad?

As the President, I take personally the condition and quality of what is being offered. I contributed over 220 plants to the sale. They were all labeled from the 1st Class and presentable. We did set up the day before but out of the 5 growers, only 1 other than me set up the day before. The rest showed up about 30 minutes before the door opened without labels or pricing or names in some cases. That just doesn't work with me. Am I being snobby or unreasonable?

After seeing the vendor displays today at DAVS in Chattanooga, I feel like I know a bit more of the direction that I want to move.

the very last thing that I would want is to purposefully offend someone and cause them to not want to participate.....but I am not willing to just take a whatever attitude going in to another sale.

what things am I missing that might belong in a criteria list? The good thing about where we will be next time is that it is climate controlled and secure and everything can be set up the day before and left overnight. I don't have any problem whatsoever telling someone that we can't accept things if they don't meet the time or quality criteria...but it's only fair that the criteria be in writing so that everyone is on teh same page well in advance. We have an ex. meeting next week and I wanted to have something of a rough draft to present to the group.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 12:11AM
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To determine some criteria for plants to be acceptable for your sale, give some consideration to what criteria you yourself apply when looking at plants to purchase for your collection. It's almost a second nature thing. Since you and I have been to shows recently and purchased plants, we can think back to that moment.

When I am 'shopping' the sales tables, my eye is first caught by the blossom. If the blossom is one I like, I then look at the name. Oh, got that at home, no wonder it caught me eye.....

If I want to consider purchasing the plant, I will then look at the bottom of the pot for any signs of bugs, up under the leaves, etc. I then consider the shape; is it symmetrical, or can it be in the future? Does it have suckers? (A bonus to some people).

I then evaluate the overall appearance of the plant; is it healthy looking, and has it had good growing conditions? Are the leaves the right color green, or pale and washed out? Are the petioles the right length, or long and spindly?

Then I look at the price. If it's reasonable, into the basket. And what is reasonable is up to the individual...

So, to summarize: blooming, or a sample/picture of the blossom if not blooming (FC2 labels are a lifesaver)
Pest and disease free
Well shaped
Sucker free
General appearance of being healthy

People will apply the criteria in different orders. An inexperienced person will go strictly by bloom, probably followed by price. An experienced grower will go deeper in the list, knowing how important all the other factors are. For me, the two criteria that are non-negotiable are names and being pest/disease free. The others could be trade-offs.

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 11:52AM
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I'm filled with gratitude at your suggestions and explanation. thanks a bunch :)


    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 5:55PM
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HI Dora,
At our show this year we had members email a list of plants they were bringing to the sale a few days in advance. This allowed one person to set up a sheet or sheets of the plants that were available. The sheets were made from FC2 with photos and descriptions of the plant. We had the chairman of our plant sale take charge of pricing and inspecting the plants. He made up stickers in advance with prices that were stuck onto the plant cup along with labels which were on some of the plants. Not all had pictures on them, some were just labels with descriptions from FC2 because there were no photos in the program. If any plants came in unexpectedly he took charge of them. I know we had growers bring in plants for the sale table on the second day but we were greatful they did because we were almost sold out the day before. I guess what I am saying is to have a chairman and let that person set the rules. If that person doesn't do a good job, there is always next year.
Fred in NJ

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 11:14PM
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I agree that a sales chairman is probably a good idea. Since you are the president, I would make sure the person YOU assign is not one of the procrastinators in your club. That way you can both can have similar expectations.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 2:32PM
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I'm LOL because as soon as I mention a sales chairman, I know what the next step will be :)

I'll be wearing another new hat. And that's ok if it means that the success of the sale is increased.

You guys (and gals) have been so helpful with some direction. I'm still feeling so "new" to all this and your experience (I feel) fills in most of the gaps that I'm experiencing. I just want to do a good job.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 8:23PM
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Your job as president is to DELEGATE.
Fred in NJ

    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 10:05PM
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Yeah, yeah, yeah, Fred.... I hear you and understand what you're saying.
If there's no one to delegate to...then there's a bit of a problem :)

We'll see how it goes in the next 90 days. Our Ex Committee mtng is tomorrow.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 9:31PM
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Ex Committee met this morning and WOW! we got so much accomplished. They were all on board for consistent guidelines and readily accepted the ones that I had. Their immediate concern was what to do with people who would push them and I said that I would take care of that as long as they understood there would be no exceptions and that they would need to stand behind me. They agreed and I believe that most people want this to be successful and easier and profitable so they will naturally be cooperative. The rest will either come along or leave and not come back.

We are going to do a program at June mtng on how to start preparing to grow for a sale and each month we will build on what needs to be taking place with the plants during that month so that they will be ready come October when we have the sale. Those that are growing will meet outside of the monthly meetins if they so choose to help each other with plants that are being grown for the sale.

The club is going to purchase for me (as the Pres.) the First Class program to be used for benefit of sale/club and everyone will need to turn in a list the week before the sale to have labels made for their plants. No label, no sale and we'll have a written list of criteria that growers need to take into consideration when participating.

I really appreciate everyone's help/suggestions so that I could move forward with this topic w/ our group. I feel like we have some bone in our meat regarding this subject and that makes me feel more easy.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 3:08PM
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You will loooooooooooooove FC2!! Joe Bruns is like a ROCK STAR for making it!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 10:08PM
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