Friday, January 27, 2012

Frugal Gardener: Seed catalog(s) revelation!

Does the Frugal Gardener in you get irritated when you see five packets of seeds you want to buy in one catalog but the sixth packet you want is in another catalog—and you aren’t about to pay a second shipping and handling fee to get that one extra packet?

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve discovered that several seed catalogs come from the same source and that you can place one order from several catalogs and pay just one shipping and handling fee, provided, of course, that you wish to purchase from the cooperating catalogs.

When I was reviewing catalogs earlier this month, I noticed in passing that the mailing addresses of two catalogs, Totally Tomatoes and Shumway’s, were in the same city.  Then, when I compiled my “must order” seed list recently, I jotted down catalog abbreviations, page numbers, SKU numbers (product identifiers), and prices and realized the SKU numbers were the same in the two catalogs.  For example, the SKU for Amish Paste tomato seeds in both catalogs is #00029.

When I finished my list, I went to the Totally Tomatoes website and entered my selections.  Before final check out, however, I had an idea.  Why not add a SKU number for the last packet on my list—rutabaga seed, which is listed in Shumway’s but not Totally Tomatoes, and see what happens?  I did and bong! —the site wouldn’t accept it.

Still later, after I had checked out of the Totally Tomatoes site, I had another idea.  I sent an email to Customer Service at Totally Tomato and said I’d noticed that the addresses are the same and would they please add a packet of Shumway rutabaga seed to my order.

After we had exchanged several emails, Customer Service said for business and accounting reasons they could not mix orders from the two companies but that there is a website, egardenersplace, where you can order from “all our catalogs.”

I hastened to the website and found eight catalogs listed.  Four contain vegetable seeds: Totally Tomatoes, Shumway’s, Jung, and Vermont Bean.  Four sell flower seeds, roots, and/or plants: McClure & Zimmerman, Roots & Rhizomes, Edmund’s Roses, and Seymour’s.  I haven’t ordered from egardenersplace because I’ve already made my 2012 seed purchases, but I have checked the veggie-seed catalogs, and the SKU for Amish Paste tomato is the same in all.

The egardenersplace homepage shows the covers of the eight catalogs and says readers can order from all catalogs and just pay one shipping and handling fee, which appears to be $6.00 for orders under $60.00.  At the site, you click on a catalog, search or leaf through, select packets, and then go to another catalog, if you wish, to make more selections.  Check-out procedure is like that at most websites.

This Frugal Gardener likes the idea of buying from several catalogs and paying just one shipping and handling fee.  Now I wonder whether I should recommend that Vermont Bean change its name to Wisconsin Bean.

And a final finding that made Frugal Gardener smile: Though packets for the same seed variety have the same SKU numbers, prices occasionally differ.  In the two catalogs that I used to make my buy list, I found 5¢ and 10¢ differences in two packet prices.  Frugal Gardener, though, doesn’t see such massive savings reason sufficient to buy from one catalog and not the other.  If he did, though, perhaps he should start calling himself Pinchpenny Gardener.

If you’d like to take a look at the eight catalogs on the egardenersplace website, CLICK HERE.


Notes:  (1) You can order all eight print catalogs through the egardenersplace website.  (2) Mention of specific products, brands, or companies is not intended as an endorsement by the University of Maryland.  (3) I do not receive consideration of any kind for mentioning products, brands, or companies in my postings.  The seed catalogs I review are those from sellers from which I have previously bought seeds.

3 comments:

  1. Frugal Gardener, you are just too entertaining! Fran

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  2. One of the interesting things I found this year is that most of the catalogs I order from are now sending me emails regarding specials. Some times its 10% off an order or free shipping. I guess if your willing to put up with frequent emails from the seed companies, you can save some money on your seed orders.

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  3. I've been ordering from a variety of catalogues for years. While I've watched as the seed houses have done M&A -- Burpee and Cook's Garden and Heronswood for example -- over the years, I had no idea there would be a possibility to combine any orders for a savings on shipping, which as Bob observes, can be a consideration that stops a gardener from trying a single interesting variety. A $10 packet of seeds doesn't seem like a savings. Thanks, Bob!
    Nancy Robson

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