Years ago the box stores had a reputation that the quality of the plants they were selling was below the industry standards and therefore had low prices. But they have improved their quality substantially, mainly by requiring their suppliers (the growers) to take back anything that did not sell, that looked bad or was damaged by hard freezes or other external factors. With other words, the box stores are not able to manage the quality of their plants properly and now only have to pay for what is sold while the rest is the growers risk and responsibility. Of course, the growers have to cover their costs and increased their prices.
Ever since this policy was implemented, the idea that the box stores have lower prices is not true anymore. If you look at our price comparison you will see that the box store prices of the smaller and more sensitive plants, like annuals and vegetables, are not competitive anymore. This is the direct result of the greater shrink factor of these plants. For the larger plants these differences are less. As a result the shoppers are paying much higher prices paying for the inability of the box stores to take care of their plants. A classic example is the colorful pansy. About 8 years ago a 4” pansy would sell for $ 0.68 at Home Depot. Last year that price had risen to $ 1.68 and currently it is $1.58.
Fortunately at Flower World, one of the few large retail growers in Western Washington left, we have control over the growing as well as the sales of plant material. We have the expertise to do that and we can control our cost. We just wanted to address the fact that the cost of the inability of the box stores to manage their plants properly is being passed on to their customers. Their lack of expertise in the care of plants also shows up in other concerns, but that is not addressed here.