raising prices

muddydogsJanuary 21, 2008

What would you pay for a 6 pack of premium veggies? My retail price is 99 cents. A long crop of celery I decided to put into 4 packs for 99 cents made customers complain that there were only 4 plants instead of 6. Owning a retail nursery is tuff, retirement funds are slim, and you gotta be money savvy to survive on a nursery income alone.

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gonativegal(zone 5a)

I think 99 cents is a good deal.

In Chi Town you can expect to pay bewteen 1.5 to 2 dollars for a 4 pack at a crummy box store unless it's on sale. Sometimes, a bit more at a good garden center.

But then that depends where you are. I know in rural areas folks are used to paying lower prices for things like gas, groceries and plants.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 2:00PM
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Around here everyone is getting away from selling six paks or 4 paks. Most of the garden centers only sell in indivdual 4 inch pots at around $2.95. One place I know well does get in a few flats of 4 paks but only a few flats and once they are gone they fill the space with 4 inch pots. Their goal is to get away from selling small starter plants and train customers to buy larger and more expensive plants.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 4:55PM
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berrytea4me(Z5 CO)

I agree that pricing is local. If you can, go check out your competition in the local area. Check out catalog sources too. You can get away with charging more than the mailorder sources for the convenience of immediate gratification & firsthand pick of the crop- it should just give you another ballpark for your pricing.

WalMart is not likely to sell celery and you can't even buy a 6-pack of run of the mill stuff from them for On the flip side, there are very few things I'd pay up to $2.95 per single plant (large tomatoes or perennial herb starts being exceptions). If it costs more to grow it than to buy it I'm going to buy my food except the stuff I can't get the quality in the grocery store. If you go too high you drive the serious customer away to mailorder or saving/sowing their own seeds, etc. You want them to buy your products and come back again for more so finding the price your local market is willing to pay is key.

If the crop wont' support the margins you need then the next step is to do more homework on production efficiency, crop selection and/or marketing, display, branding- which are also often highly localized.

These comments are from someone who is not in the business.. yet, still researching.. so take it for what it's worth.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 9:54PM
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Pricing depends entirely on your market and your costs to produce. Yes, it is regional and even varies greatly within the same region depending on your customer base and the market you serve.

If you are a retail nursery owner or buyer, you should be checking out your direct competition on a regular basis. You do not necessarily have to match their pricing - there are all sorts of factors why this is not required - but you do need to know where it is. Higher pricing than the competition may be justified if there is sufficient added value - better, healthier plant quality and selection, superior customer service, extremely knowledgeable staffing and other ancillary services can all serve to demand and receive higher pricing than the local grocery, box stores or mass marketing outlet.

And your costs to grow or produce the plants you sell should also be a factor. Even if you purchase starts from a wholesaler, there are costs over and above the cost of the plant itself that must be considered and factored in. If you are not able to cover your costs and with a reasonable profit margin, then you need to reevaluate your offerings.

FWIW, independent retail nurseries in the greater Seattle area seldom offer any plant product for $.99 unless it was purchased at volume and offered as a loss leader as a buying incentive. They simply cannot afford to, even those that grow their own. Think about it - if the wholesale growers are offering the same plant at $.65-.85 or more, how can you possibly expect to come out ahead if you sell it for $.99? The average pricing in this area for a 4-pak of veggie starts ranges from $1.29 to 1.99, depending on the location and the plant. 3.5" pots of individual plants (most veggies and common annuals) will range from $2.99 to 3.99. In our urban/suburban area, few gardeners have the space/time to grow everything from seed and small starts of veggies and annuals are typically in high demand. Especially if you are able to offer some of the more uncommon or choice selections. 4 and 6 paks here are on the decline, as they are more expensive to maintain than larger sized starts and are less sought after by gardeners.

And you can expect those costs to slowly increase due to increases passed on by the growers (prices are up as much as 20% over last season) and due to increased overhead costs from rising utility rates and gas prices. And labor. If the prices you pay for the finished product from the grocery store are on a dramatic incline (and no one is arguing that), then it is not unreasonable to assume that similar higher prices are going to occur down the line for the same basic goods.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 10:49AM
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Many consumers have the box store mentality. They just automatically assume that the box stores have the best prices. Our local ones sell veggies by the piece at the prices went from about a dollar apiece a few years ago to as much as $2.95. They don't even offer the option of cell packs. It's been going on long enough that a whole generation of new gardeners would be suspicious of buying a cell pack of four to six tomatoes, because they wouldn't be half grown already. I've had them ask if they'd "live" since they were so tiny. rofl. Their idea of a big vegetable garden is four plants of each variety. So much of it is in the demographics of your area. As as for boxes, they price stuff pretty much the same whether you are rural or cosmopolitan.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 10:48PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

We were selling 4 packs of tomatoes/veggies for 1.50 last year or 15.00/flat. But I'm raising them 25 cents this year to 1.75 per pack or 17.50 per flat. I hope this will fly around here because we are in a depressed area with no jobs and people leaving the city. But The prices of LP etc like you all know has gone up. I DO think that more people around here are going to put out veggie gardens due to the price of food rising. Pllus our local garden fair this year that draws in lots of people (3000) in a weekend, their theme this year is "veggie gardening". I sell 4" potted individual tomato plants for $2.00 at the farmers market and they sell good there on the "rich" end of town, but our end only buys 4 packs. Can't give 4" pots away on the low end. But also the "rich" end is also the one with all the shopping centers with that kind of individual potting is the norm. Interesting....
I'm sure customers will be disappointed in the price increase, but realistically, wouldn't everyone expect it?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 11:02AM
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hitexplanter(8 a)

I am hoping to hold the line on costs for this coming year. I don't grow any cell packs. I have one wholesale grower that I get 6 and 9 packs of veggies from they price for 1.99 and 2.99 respectively. I see more and more folks gravitating for the 3.5 inch pots and I will capitilize on this by taking some 6 and 9 packs and potting them up in early and then offer them in 4 to 6 weeks for 1.49 my 3.5 inch price. Feb. is still fairly slow and I have a small greenhouse so I can only do so much with it and heating is not as bad as for y'all up north. My spring season is over with Mother's day when some of you are just getting started.
I am even offering some 1 gal trade pots of maters this year for 3.99 again I bump a less than 1.00 plant to a gal. and in 4 to 6 weeks its good to go and still lets those that plant late to have viable chance to get some good maters at the end of the planting season. I do the same with some amount of the best 3.5 inch I buy in I pot into a gallon and 6-8 weeks they go out the door for 5.99 instead of 1.49. Can't do much of that in the peak but I can do it with some free time on the fringes and it keeps my margins up. It is all about averaging it out over the year in everything you do. Keeping prices the same for customers shows them you care about them and using some of your creative talent and skill still lets you absorb some price creep.

I could get 1.75 or maybe 1.99 for a 3.5 inch perennial but if I keep the annual and perennial prices the same year round I can average out about the same with minimal price confusion for my customers. I didn't think many folks would pay 1.49 for fall color such as pansies but I was wrong and I don't even offer a flat price and they still buy flat(s) at a time and are happy smiling out the door. The averages are what keep the bottom line working.

I am a mini box in a way because I am anchored to a hardware store (the biggest in the immediate area). With 20 years in the industry and a real love of plants and helping people has made for a very reasonable business for the store and a fair wage for me. Good service, good product and good info will let you charge a premium and not so premium and finding a balance that lets you grow well and make a living you can live with. I have 1000's of loyal customers from 2 years of business and I worry less about the big boxes because I know what they have and I know what I have and they aren't anything but the cheapskates option and I would rather they have those customers and I get to have the rest that are happy I am here and all the beautiful neat healthy plants I offer at fair prices and they don't have to drive 20 miles extra jsut to pick up some pretties or do their landscape.
BTW just sold out of my 15 gal living christmas trees yesterday. 27 to one customer with nary a quibble about the price and he walked out smiling. Paid 45.00 sold for 99.99 each. I had people coming in at New Year's looking for them to be discounted. My response was if I still for some reason still have any left in Spring they will be 129.99. I was not rude but I let them know if you want these beauties 99.99 is a deal and yes they were so everyone that got some are happy and so am I.
Happy Growing David

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 11:33PM
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At our Family Greenhouse our prices have stayed pretty reasonable. Here we sell six-packs for 1.75 a piece or 21.00 a flat. We started doing 4 packs but our customers prefer the six packs. So we kept them the same. On the other hand, I started some perennials this year to try a few new flowers. Problem, i'm not sure how to price them. They will be in six packs. Any opinions on what I should do, such as pricing?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 3:45PM
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I don't know why anyone would buy plants mail order or online unless it was some rare item not available locally. From the online vendors prices I looked at they are usually higher, and the plants smaller, than you can buy locally. When you add in the shipping costs the plants could end up costing two or three times what you would pay locally.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 2:14PM
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