Plant News

Major American Nursery Headed For Obits

Flappers were all the rage when Hines Nursery first opened its doors. That was a whole lot of management decisions ago. Looks like the octogenarian brand may not weather its last one; Hines Nurseries has filed for bankruptcy.

Though no one likes to see good people lose jobs, I did get some perspective on the bright side of the huge wholesale nursery's failure from The Blogging Nurseryman, the blog of California nursery owner, Trey Pitsenberger.

Evidentally, over the last year, Hines employees have been leaving comments on his blog about what's going on in their company. The bottom line? In turning its back on local nurseries and selling out to big box stores, the nursery got what it deserved.

"I know that at Home Depot," Pitsenberger wrote, "vendors like Hines don't get paid until the product is sold at the retail level. If the plants remain unsold for any reason, Home Depot does not pay. Considering the care plants receive at my local Home Depot I am not surprised that there are many unsold plants."

Perusing the comments on his site, Roger Dodger - who clearly works in the field - wrote this:

"Wake Up Call here people, STAY AWAY from the BOX stores if you want to stay in the business. Make those one-on-one relationships with the Indy folks, grow what they want and sell it at a price that they can also make a profit".

I haven't gotten into the nursery business much in this blog, but being a long supporter of both independent and niche nurseries, I ain't shedding tears.



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Thanks for posting on this. Most people assume that there is one nursery industry. However it has broken apart into many different aspects, box stores, independents, hydroponics, etc. We are not all on the same page. The wholesale nurseries are going to have to decide which market to service. It's all but impossible to service the box stores, while serving independents. Different needs.

Sent by trey "the blogging nurseryman" | 12:17 PM | 8-25-2008

Interesting post here! This spring, for the first time, I perused some large box type stores, after huffing a bit about prices at smaller plant retailers. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the prices were rarely better at the big stores - and then only on certain plants - although the "sale" signs were admittedly bolder! It was still cheaper for me to buy 10 or more plants at my local joint (closer=less gas/time spent) and get the bulk discount. So there's a concrete economic reason, on top of myriad moral reasons, to stick with the little guys. And let's not forget that you can't ask weird any questions or see inspiring displays made by plant-lover employees at the typical box store...

Sent by kate | 1:20 AM | 8-27-2008

Nice one, Kate. I did go to the NW mega-food and fodder chain yesterday, Fred Meyers, to grab some "fluff" for the garden and was amazed how much they were still asking for stuff whose time had clearly come and gone. Ultimately ended up at local nursery where I paid a lot for some handsome plants that moved right in as if they'd been growing all year.

Sent by Ketzel Levine | 10:52 AM | 8-27-2008

Hey folks, there's a flip side to the Big Boxes.... they very much redeemed quite a bit of themselves during Hurricane Katrina! Home Depot, WalMart were the first ones with trucks loaded with supplies in Louisiana. And yes, I live in a small town with a severely gutted center, and big boxes on the outskirts, and I am an employee of neither company. Home Depot provides full health insurance to their parttimers. And they only came in after the local home grown companies went to the American South as labor was cheaper there.... probably had to make a profit for my retirement account!

Sent by DWM, Meadville, PA | 5:11 PM | 8-28-2008

I'm a horticulturist who used to work at Home Depot and at Wal-Mart and not all the plants sold there are guaranteed. We used to have to throw out tons of plants that we actually owned, bought and paid for. HD here just dropped one of its best suppliers of perennials because they were going to force them into guaranteeing their plants. They did it for a couple of months, then said they were losing too much money and quit selling to HD at all, unless it was bought and paid for on delivery.

That being said, I've seen a lot of small nurseries get greedy and go with the big box stores and end up going under. Big box stores are fickle, because they can afford to be. If you can't afford fickle buyers, don't go there.

Sent by Jade Smith | 7:25 PM | 9-19-2008

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