A gentleman in his mid twenties came in and bought about $300 worth of fruit trees yesterday. Theses are trees that he received a 10% discount on for pre-booking before the end of October. The trees arrive in early February bare root. You get to choose from hundreds of varieties on any rootstock you like and know the trees will be there for you come February. I was quite happy to see this customer as I thought for sure we wouldn't make a fruit tree sale to him.
About five weeks ago he came in asking about some fruit trees he had bought at the local grocery store. He wanted to know why the bark was peeling away from the trunk just above ground level. Had he painted the trunk with white paint, or mulched the ground to prevent sunburn, which often results in borers getting into the trunk? No, and apparently all the trees we're like that. More than half had the peeling bark. I asked him to bring the trees in. When he did we confirmed the diagnosis and told him to remove the infected trees as they would never perform well. I also told him that since he had bought the trees at the grocery store I couldn't vouch for the condition the trees we're in when he bought them. Who knows what damage occurred out in that hot parking lot in those plastic bags.
We got the same answer we often get when people buy those â€œcheapâ€ trees from grocers and box stores. They we're cheaper and we are â€œtoo expensive.â€ When you buy trees from us they are grown by a reputable supplier who knows how to care for the trees. In addition we select the proper rootstock for the type of soil and climate we have. Do you think they do that at the grocery store? But here is the most important reason why he should have bought the more expensive fruit trees from us last year. They would be alive, undamaged by borers, and a whole year ahead in growth. Gee, that seems worth a few dollars more for a tree. He would have left with the knowledge of the white paint and mulch to prevent sunburn. We always make sure to let our customer know that sunburn and borers are the number one reason for the death of young fruit trees here in our hot dry summers. Nobody mentioned that in the checkout line at the grocery store.
Our knowledge has value. We need to sell results, not cheap plants. What value is there in getting the information when you need it? How important is it to have a business that can answer almost any gardening question you have six days a week. After all he came to us to find out what was wrong. Why didn't he ask the grocery store manager what was wrong with the trees?
The bottom line is he made the decision to buy from us. Not everyone would. Knowledge and how we spread it may be ours and every good small and medium sized nurseries most valuable asset. We need to attach value to it and charge accordingly. We also need to quit thinking that the mega stores or grocery stores are selling the same things we are cheaper. They are not. They sell plants but thats where the similarities end. The consumer needs to know that they are getting all the information they need to complete the project properly. How much would you pay for that assurance? Many wouldn't pay extra, but some will if they understand just how valuable and powerful knowledge is.