January Show Update and 2013 Outlook...

Well, we all made it through another year it looks like. I usually don’t think too much about the changing of the calendar, but this time I can actually say I’m glad that one’s over. I won’t say 2013 couldn’t be worse than 2012 was, pronouncements like that tend to come back to haunt you, but it would take a lot to make it so.

I won’t bore you with a litany of my problems because I imagine you have enough of your own. If you don’t, just be patient, I promise they’ll find you eventually. We used to have a preacher at our church who said that, basically, life has three phases: entering a time of trial, living in a time of trial, and exiting a time of trial. I have no idea if he had a therapist or not, but you’d think anybody that pessimistic would probably need a good one. My theory is that life pretty much boils down to what you make of it, and I choose to make it good. I will admit, though, that the last five years have been very challenging on a number of fronts.

I just got back from the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show in Baltimore. I’ve been there to walk the show before but this time I had a booth. Since this was my first time to exhibit I don’t really have a frame of reference, but I was pleasantly surprised at how it went. There were still some tales of woe to be heard, but for the most part the crowd was decidedly optimistic. I hope (believe, actually) that optimism is contagious and that this spring is going to see better sales growth than we’ve had in the last 5 years. 

I went to MANTS just hoping to make some new contacts; ones that show some promise anyway. To my great surprise I actually wrote a few orders and I did, in fact, meet some people who were very interested in our products. I have been to shows in the past where you could’ve fired a cannonball down the aisle and not endangered a soul. That wasn’t the case in Baltimore. Being a first-time exhibitor my booth was somewhat in the nether regions of the convention center, but even there the foot-traffic wasn’t bad. The whole thing led me to believe that, for all of us, things are finally looking up.

As you may have noticed from browsing our availability list, we are a little light on inventory at the moment. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, because I’d much rather be sold out than throwing plants on the dump pile. But you can’t sell out of an empty wagon no matter how charming and persuasive you may be.

If the weather behaves normally we should have a good flush of growth on everything by around the middle of April. I’m not going to say we’ll be loaded for bear at that point, but we will have a lot more stuff ready to sell by then. One of the things that makes the nursery business so difficult is trying to match production to sales, given that we’re shooting at a target that is 3 – 4 years in the future. That has been especially so in the last five years. I can remember an old joke from back in the eighties, when farming was so tough, that John Deere had introduced a new model tractor that had no seat and no steering wheel. It was said to be for those farmers that had lost their rear-ends and didn’t know which way to turn. I know exactly how they felt.

One of the more popular items we had at the MANTS show was our line of 8” azaleas. We took orders for a good number of them there and had promises of more orders to come in the next few weeks. If you are going to need any of those you probably want to get your orders in sometime in the next two or three weeks. We’re a long way from running out, but they are going pretty quickly.

The Gulf States Horticultural Expo in Mobile starts this coming Thursday and I think it’s going to be a very good show; the best we’ve had since 2007. If you happen to be coming to the show I hope you’ll set aside a little time to come out and tour the nursery. We’re only about 30 minutes from west Mobile and I’m pretty sure you’d be glad you took the time to look us up. We’re a little off the beaten path, like just about everybody else in Mississippi is, but it’s an easy drive from the Semmes / Mobile area to get to our place. So, give us a call if you need directions and come on out. We’d love to show you around!

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