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April 18, 2011

Shopping at Mahoney's Garden Center - the good and the bad

ONE OF A PAIR OF STUNNING TALL PLANTERS MANUFACTURED BY MAYNE, WHICH WE PURCHASED  IN THE BOSTON AREA AT MAHONEY'S NURSERY IN WINCHESTER, MA. IT WAS HARD TO DECIDE WHAT CONTAINER SET WAS BEST FROM THEIR WIDE SELECTION. THESE ARE BEAUTIFUL.

This weekend we visited some of the better nurseries in the Boston area, and purchased a few new containers and other structural pieces for the garden. At  Mahoney's Rocky Ledge, we found these very attractive, but expensive plastic containers. - UPDATE - Not to rant, but....we found out today after measuring the rest of our windows, that we needed 72" window boxes and not 60" ones for the rest of the house, that the manufacturer (MAYNE) linked us to 12 retailers who sold the same window box containers for more than a hundred dollars less! Stupidly, for the three containers, which seemed expensive, we paid more than ANY online retailer for the same product. In total, we shockingly paid more then $160.00 more at the Mahoney's Winchester nursery. The upright containers sold for $149. each, and online were $119.00, but the real shocker was the windowbox which we bought at Mahoney's for $259, but at the manufacturer's site and at other online retailers, it sells for $159.00 with free shipping. 

We called Mahoney's twice this morning to see if this was a mistake, and the people answering the phone were of no help - they told us the first time "well, that doesn't surprise me, we're expensive" and  the second time from the garden center person said "I don't set the prices, so don't blame me". When asked to speak to a manager, we were told to "just bring them back if you don't like them". The problem is, we LOVE them, and, we live over an hour away.  Niether would connect us with a manager. sigh. I know it's a busy time of year, but really? Maybe this was a mistake? I can understand a %20 mark up, but since these are ALL retail prices, it appears to be unethical. More than a $100 difference at retail is quite a profit margin! Nornally, I never post about such things, but because they were rude to my nice call to inquire, I just can't get it off of my mind!
A MATCHING WINDOWBOX IN BLACK WAS ADDED TO THE DECK. I THINK I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I WILL PLANT IN THIS - REMEMBER THAT FLAT OF TALL SINGLE -STEMMED PINK ROSEMARY'S THAT I BOUGHT IN DECEMBER? I SEE A MINI-PLEACHED ROSEMARY HEDGE IN MY FUTURE...


I really need to go back an write a more detailed post on this great nursery, we buy so much there. This incident aside, if you live in the Boston area, surely you know about it - even their new rock carved sign was inspiring, they offer an amazing selection of containers and plant material of the highest quality. We went with nothing particular in mind, except to explore, and, as such things go, left with a truck full. But I am just a little ticked off, since we spent over a thousand dollars yesterday, and no one would talk to us ( we didn't even get a free pansy like the lady in front of us did!).

We found these great columns, that are also planters as well as some windowboxes all manufactured by a very impressive product company called MAYNE.  These purchases inspired us do a little design work on the one garden we have been focusing on, in front of the greenhouse. First, I had to relocate the two Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil' Japanese Holly shrubs, which had provided the perfectly vertical structural forms I had wanted at the end of the gravel walk leading to the greenhouse entrance. We simply moved them to the other end of the walk, which extends toward the street, which still needs to be completed. These containers are plastic, but they look exactly like wood. Pricey, (real wooded ones would have been cheeper!), but oh SO nice, so we splurged bought a pair of them,( and a window box, see below).

THE DAYS ARE NOT LONG ENOUGH FOR US RIGHT NOW, WITH GARDEN CLEAN UP, TWO GARDEN PARTIES AND TOURS, HOUSE GUESTS COMING ALL IN THE NEXT 3 WEEKS. JUST TRYING TO FOCUS ON ONE SMALL PART OF THE GARDEN IS ALL WE CAN DO.

As a designer myself, I really need to find a company that will allow me to design my own line of containers ( I have so many new ideas), but for now, I need to settle on what is available at retail, but these are very attractive, and look nothing like roto-molded forms available even five years ago. If I only could afford more, for the white ones were nice too. Now, I am trying to thing about what I could plant in them. At first, I tried some of the cold weather biennials like Diascia, but they didn't look quite right. A boxwood globe is what I will most likely end up with, since these containers function visually as an architectural statement too. Until then, I am going to try two topiary's that I found in the greenhouse, a white flowered rosemary, and a matching Westringia rosemarifolia. I will pot them up next weekend, since these two plants need some hardening off - it is only mid April. 


NEW JAPANESE BAMBOO FENCING ADDS A NEW FOCUS, IN THE GREENHOUSE BORDER.
I feel badly about this fence, too, since these were the last two left at Mahoney's, and even though the guys in the greenhouse were very kind and helpful, offering to order more for us, and checking for additional stock, at the register, one fell apart, because the wood was spit and quite damaged. They would not offer us a discount ( they were not expensive, at $19.00 ea.), but clearly, these last two were remaining because of the damage on the posts with the split wood and I would have been surprised if anyone else would have bought them with the rungs falling out. Of course, we did, and we repaired them the best that we could with bamboo rope and wax. Oh, Mahoney's, what are we going to do with you? Or, at least your sales help!

3 comments :

  1. Price differentials between retailers and online sellers are normal. The online sellers operate with significantly less overhead expenses, and their sites are open 24 hours a day at no additional cost. Therefore, they can sell for less. My experience with retailers in Massachusetts is that because it takes such a great amount of time to travel to destinations, comparative shopping is challenging if not impossible. Consumers tend to pay the prevailing prices wherever they are. Also, Mahoneys positions itself as a high end nursery, with an extensive and beautiful selection of plants. They charge what the local market will bear. And that might explain the discrepancies between one location and another. Customers who take the trouble to travel to their locations expect to pay more for everything.

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  2. I don't have a problem with brick & mortar prices, and I agree with you that Mahoney's is a premium nursery and well worth it, and I do expect to pay a premium price, which generally, I am OK with, especially for quality, which they maintain and deliver.
    They carry a full selection of this product, which sold for 30-35% more than on-line retailers, which I personally, was willing to accept. But the window box, was more than 200% more.
    Also,regardless of local market prices, this is a product that was purchased wholesale, and we are talking about retail price. If this was a one-off item, I would understand, but looking at the display, they purchased in volume. Plus, consider that Mahoney's has more than one location in Massachusetts.

    Also, in this case, I don't accept the 'additional overhead' argument, since three of the online retailers offered free shipping, Mahoney's purchased these Wholesale, and on-line sellers offered many of the same pieces at 'sale' prices. so many pieces we're less than 50% the cost I paid.
    Brick store, in volume, purchased wholesale, and probably shipped directly from the factory in China or as a full palette from a US port, should have resulted in a lower cost than on-line.

    But all of this could have been avoided by simply adjusting the profit margin to be consistent. That's really my point. As for Mahoney's Garden Center, it is wonderful nursery, with well cared for plants and an amazing selection of containers, plant material and overall, a very helpful sales staff. I am certain that this was just an oversight, and their selection of containers remains the finest in New England. But next time, I will wait for their annual container tent sale in the fall, when they offer most container for 60% off.....hmmmmm

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  3. Anonymous9:18 AM

    Matt--I still think youre trying to apply cause-and-effect logic to a world in which it simply doesnt exist. If chichi nurseries like Mahoney's were to start charging rational prices, well, you know exactly what would happen.

    I too love Mahoney's, but love it as a museum. a dazzling exhibit...not a real-world place to
    do my plant shopping.

    steve

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