Perennial prices at market

michaelhampton(SW England)June 25, 2005

If I was to sell my perennial plants at market would it mean that I`d have to drop my prices considerably lower. When people go to markets they arent just looking for local produce but also items at a low price. Usually I charge £3.00 - £3.50 for each 2ltr perennial pot I sell thats about 5.47 - 6.38 US Dollars. Would this sort of price be acceptable?

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Keeping in mind that marketing plants is something I am new at (selling MY plants is new, basic selling I am experienced in) I will tell you my observations from this spring season selling at a large Flea Market. The market I sell at has around 12 vendors selling live plants. About half of them are there year round and have been selling at this location for years. A few of these vendors operate at other locations also (either greenhouse/nursery/garden centers or other booths at other outdoor markets). The flea market is crowded most of the year but the bulk of the shoppers are not there to buy plants.

Folks are looking for a bargain but not an outrageous one. They seem to accept big box retailer prices but they want (and recognize) superior quality. So your prices seem fine to me. They are there to shop and seem to spend between $20 and $100 per day. Some folks come both days of the weekend. It is like a ritual for them to stroll through the booths and look for something that catches their eye. I also sell garden themed crafts which I price higher than the plants. Many people comment on the crafts and although they wince at the high price they often say that the quality is high and rarely say anything negative. So the market is not full of cheapskates.

But I have found a niche in selling to real gardeners not the casual shopper. Real gardeners want unusuall plants or traditional plants to replace plants they have lost or plants that remind them of someone or someplace. They don't seem to care if it is blooming. They do care that I know what I am selling and can answer all sorts of questions - it really makes a difference. They also buy smaller plants, which are easier for me to transport and produce. They do not buy 10inch hanging baskets - they buy $20 worth of small rooted cuttings. I know this flies in the face of what marketing experts are saying but it is my observation.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 10:47AM
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michaelhampton(SW England)

Thanks for your opinino. I prefer selling to real gardeners because their the ones who accept what high quality they actually are and they know how much work it took to get them to that standard meaning their usually willing to pay good prices. How many plants would you sell you or other vendors you may know could sell in one day on average?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 1:09PM
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I'll sit down and do the math but right now I can tell you that I always sell a third of what I take. I rarely sell out completely of any one thing. My guess is that my truck will haul around 250 plants & craft items so I sell around 83 items ranging in price from $1 to $25. I can see one of the other plant vendors from my booth and they display around 40 beautiful 10-12 inch hanging baskets. The prices used to be $15 per basket, they have now dropped them down to $8.50 each (the spring crazy buying season is over, it has gotten very hot lately). Even when it was cool I only saw around 4-6 baskets leave their display. Now they could be doing better than what I observe - I haven't gone over to talk to them about it. But after watching them I went home and ripped up all my planted baskets and sold the plants individually. Much easier for me to transport.

The main thing I've noticed is that the springtime only buyers may spend more money but they don't really recognise high quality or care about the difficulty some plants take to get into condition. In the long run I need repeat buyers every week not just for one season. The real gardeners don't want finished plants. They want to start out with something small and watch it grow - especially with the rarer plants. They don't want to spend $25 on a new plant that may not make it in this climate. Buy offering tiny rooted cuttings they often buy around $10 worth of plants from me each weekend - which just sounds more like what I need.

But even with that there isn't enough of them coming to my market to make this a full time job for me. But I feel that it will grow over time.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 5:00PM
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My two cents. This is my second year growing and selling. I am doing 5 markets a week. 4 myself, and my husband does one. In my observation, your prices are very acceptable. I see other vendors selling anything and everything for $5. I cant see how they do it, and make a living at it. My prices range anywhere from $6 - $9. I also see vendors selling at higher prices than mine. When that $5 guy shows up, at times I get discouraged. But I still end up having a good day. People comment on how healthy looking my plants are, and I thank them, and I explain that I grow everything myself. This way, they know that what they are buying is hardy for our zone. They know quality when they see it.
Good luck to you!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 9:57PM
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roseyp8255(z8 - SC AL)

Triangle & Deb, you are both so right! On the side (from my full-time job) I sell some at a local flea market, and to friends at work, etc. I have found that people like the "different" stuff - and like that i can talk about the plants. I have done really well at it, with varying prices. I have found that having available pics of the blooms (i.e., night-blooming cereus) helps, as does the fact that i grow them myself.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2005 at 10:12PM
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More observations I've made - I think that it helps sales to have prices rounded to the nearest dollar and to be walking around with one of those pocket aprons on so that I am basically a walking cash register. People are walking by and looking at my plants, they don't always step into the booth, they don't always ask questions. By placing myself up front and allowing the entire transaction to take place "in the street" I think I snag a few additional sales.

The market I set up at is huge and crowded (basically set up in the fairgrounds parking lot. Your booth is the parking space). Folks don't always want to walk all the way down to the end of the row to come up the next row of vendors. I set my display down the center of my space which allows a walkway or short cut through to the next row of vendors. Plenty of people take this shortcut, but to not seem so obvious they stop and look at the plants I sell. And many have returned later and purchased something.

Plenty of people bring their dogs with them to the market. So I have a dog water bowl in the front of my display which makes the dogs stop to drink which causes the owners to stop and look.

Too many vendors set their display up in such a way that it is easy for them but difficult for the customer. Too many plant vendors put the plants down on the ground where the pavement is way too hot so the plants suffer and need constant watering. Too many vendors don't take the time to price their products. At my market, if it is unpriced that means you will haggle over the final price. I don't have time to negotiate every sale. Too many plant vendors sell large combo planters or large hanging baskets, some people want small plants or single species, in fact a lot of people do (I've based my business on it). Another thing, if your market allows vendors to leave early - stay til the bitter end. There is always a wave of shoppers that show up towards the end of the day and they will look and buy from whoever is still there selling. Only leave early if you have sold most of your stock or your stock is wilted beyond repair.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2005 at 11:07AM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

I've found the same thing, people want the smaller plants, so they can put more of them in their yard/house/apartment.. This time of year, I'm doing well telling people how different plants can be used outdoors for a while, then brought indoors. Like spider plants and golden pothos. Most buyers are already thinking to first frost around here when they pick up an annual. But if it is something different that they can bring inside, then that is another story! Perennials are still selling, based upon their "coming back" in the spring. Your prices seem fine!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2005 at 7:23AM
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