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Experiences with Selling to LFS, Blah Blah [Longish]

My experiences on selling plants has been varied.  Much depends on the
people you deal with.  My initial contact was with a guy who was really
interested in plants and really went out of his way to let the "special" 
customers know when he got something exotic... when I finally started
having excess plants, he was blown away that anyone would bring *IN*
plants, and I was blown away that anyone would actually pay me for them. 
Eventually, like all good college age fish store employees, he got his
botany degree and went off to a real job, and was replaced by someone who
was so utterly inept at both growing plants and carrying on a
conversation.  I tried several times to bring in my cuttings, but was
always turned away: "There's some algae on these", "We don't want Rotala",
"We just got a shipment of plants last week".  That pretty much kept me
out of the stores for a year or more.  Since then I've met some nice
employees again, but I still can't sell plants to the store because I've
become more greedy (or you could say "selective"); they can only give me
20% of the plants' true value (my eyes nearly popped out of my sockets
when I brought in some giant pieces of Java fern... probably $50-100
worth... and they offered me $15 for it, while in their display tanks they
were selling three rhizomes each with a single frond, rubberbanded
together for $5.). 

I have, however, discovered the alternative option, which was to bring in
cuttings to the local aquarium club meetings. The buyer pays less than
retail, gets good quality specimens right out of a healthy tank, and can
ask how they were grown on the spot.  The seller gets more than wholesale,
and knows it goes to a home where they will at least try to propagate it. 
This has become such a high-demand thing with our club that we've ended up
devoting an entire monthly meeting to nothing but plant auctioning (as
those of you reading the newsgroups have seen, and are about ready to bop
us on the head for our accidental rapidly-approaching-spam postings). The
only downside of this has been that trimming days don't always synch up
with club meetings. 

The other alternative is to trade or sell over mail.  I've also had mixed
success with this, sometimes getting "burned" by the trade, but I take it
in stride. Two of my favorite plants, Microsorum "Tropica" and "Windelov",
grew from microscopic cuttings I got from a certain well-respected member
of this list in a padded envelope... they've now grown into several
forests, and I will never forget that trade.  I also have some of the best
Lobelia I've ever seen grow from a single traded cutting from another,
smuggled across the Canadian border most likely. :)  Oh yeah, and can't
forget the Bolbitis heteroclita that is now occupying an entire 10-gallon
emersed tank that was originally mailed to me in a small box in trade for
some B. heudoloti (which COULD be submerged).

OK, too long a post.  I stop now. :)

  - Erik

Erik Olson				
eriko at wrq.com