Fruit Basket Upset!

That’s what my marketing plan did this year. How I envy those of you who have been selling to the same customers year in and year out. I would love to have that sense of security.
    
My biggest customer, a large florist, is owned by 4 brothers who inherited the business from their parents. Last fall they all decided to switch positions within the company. The brother who took over product buying decided as of September 1st last fall they would no longer be buying local product until they got their cost of goods in line. The gal who actually did the flower buying said not to worry, she was sure it would all work out, and that the designers would have a fit if he stopped buying my flowers.
    
She said to call her back after the first of the year, which I did— and found out she was moved to buying only hardgoods and another gal was hired to do the flower buying. After I had left numerous messages, the new buyer finally called me back and requested a list of varieties and prices that I had sold to her last season. After faxing that to her and giving her a couple of weeks to process the information I started trying to get in touch with her, and again leaving her many messages. Finally I got a call back from her 4 weeks later saying she was just too busy with all the holidays and she didn’t have time to talk to me until after Mothers’ Day. She seemed absolutely overwhelmed, but I’m not giving up and hope to be delivering there this week.        

In the meantime, not relying on all that to work out I thought I better have a Plan B.
    
So I contacted a wholesaler who has a truck run to this area and talked to him about just stopping at my farm on his way back home and picking up a load of my flowers.              

It sounds like that is going to work out nicely and I won’t have to worry about plan A. I hope for that to start this week too, because temps have been in the 90’s and everything is blooming like crazy.
    
Part 2 of my upset basket is a change in the farmers’ market I attend. I had been selling at a market where I was really the only flower vendor, but a year ago the market split into 2 groups with my group moving to a downtown location. It was much nicer than the mall parking lot where we had been. There were a lot of bad feelings between vendors and customers because of the split, so my market year sales were down a little from the previous year, but it was okay, all things considered. Then this spring more discontent within the market group about moving the market to a different location again.
    
In the meantime I got a call from another farmers’ market in a different town where my name had been on a waiting list for 6 years to get in. I jumped at the chance! There is a lot more flower competition at this market but I don’t consider it serious competition. Plus I have a new chance to get away from pre-made bouquets and sell more of my flowers by the stem or the bunch. I think it will all work out ok. So far so good, but it takes awhile to get established at a new market.
    
So there has been a lot of added stress around here this spring in addition to the normal high levels of trying to find time to get everything done.
    
Hopefully you’ll be reading this while you still have time to get to Lawrence, Kansas and join us for a great Regional Meeting! July 9 we’ll be touring Henrys’ Plant Farm and Lynn Byczynski’s Wild Onion Farm, and then on Monday the Pendleton Farm and Kansas State. Go to ascfg.org to check out all the details and get signed up! It’s going to be a great time, so give yourself a well-deserved break and join in the fun.