While I was writing the last post on our Nurseryman holiday I caught a bit of the television Monica was watching. The news cast was from The California State Fair where they we're giving a 80% discount on all the plants that are used at the fair. These are containerized plants in one gallon and larger. There was quite a line of people waiting early in the morning to score on these plants. The reporter would walk along and ask the people in line what they we're waiting to buy. I think just about everyone she asked said they didn't care what they got. Sun, shade, perennial, houseplant, winter harder or not. The fun part was watching everyone run around like chickens with their heads cut off. A mother with a 6' tall ficus in one hand and three kids in tow, a lady running through the crowd hitting people unintentionally with her agapanthus flowers, etc. There is something unseemly about people running with plants. Not as dangerous as running with scissors, but still weird. The thing that got me was most didn't have a clue as to the needs of the plants. Thats not important. What's important is the plants we're cheap! Score now and figure out where to plant them later. No thought to the aesthetics of the garden. I wonder how these peoples yards will look when they are done? You don't have to wonder though, just travel through almost any new subdivision in the greater Sacramento region. You come across these people and their yards everywhere.
There seem to be two types of garden shoppers. Ones like the people at the fair where buying something on special is most important. It doesn't really mater if they need the items, just so long as they got a deal. I would imagine most of those people also frequent the box stores on a regular basis. The other type of garden shopper seems more interested in planting for beauty, aesthetics, or the shear joy of it. If the plants are on sale great, but thats not the sole reason to buy. Not to many of those in line at The State Fair.
Scenes like that remind me that we want to focus our attention on the second type of consumer. They are much more likely to remain loyal to a business and care for their plants once they leave the nursery. Trying to appeal to the people that wait in line at the state fair would never work. They are the ones most likely to show up a year later and want their money back because the plants they bought died. "Nobody told me it couldn't take the cold in winter", or one of my favorites, "It did well for the first year but now it dead. You do guarantee your plants don't you?"