What do you do with results from customer surveys?
We get a lot of really helpful information from your survey responses - thanks again to all who participate! In summary, we have found that a vast majority of customers feel we are above average regarding plant selection, health, and prices as well as with customer service, but some felt we could improve in a few areas. We are doing our best to adjust each new season to better meet your preferences regarding signage, tagging, plants you want to see more or less of, etc. (We will continue to increase/improve our native and pollinator selection as well as low-maintenance plants!) Several of the other suggestions/requests you made regarding hours, pets, etc., can be seen answered below!
Why aren't you open year-round, and why are you closed Mondays & Tuesdays?
We'd love to be open for a longer retail season, but if we want to continue to grow over 90% of our own plants, we don't have the space or staffing capabilities to balance our production demands with being open year-round. Summer-winter is a critical sanitation, propagation, sowing and transplant period, and we need all hands on deck for that work. We have, however, taken into consideration the many requests for a fall season, and as of 2018 we've started experimenting with short fall seasons.
How do you price your plants? Are they cheaper by the flat?
We price the vast majority of our plants based on the size of the pot they're in. Generally, the bigger the pot, the bigger the plant, the bigger the price (and vice versa). Because we don't use a barcode system (opting instead for the down home pen-and-pad method), we rely on the visual of pot sizes to quickly add your cart up at the checkout. This way, we don't have to identify every plant and correlate it to a specific price, which could take forever! Barcodes would be handy (though likely lead to a longer wait), but the cost of our plants would increase dramatically if we were to switch to that system, as we would need at least two more year-round employees to do nothing but label pots!
Why don't you do 6-packs or offer all species in small as well as large pots?
When deciding which size pot would be best for a certain plant, we take many things into consideration: mature plant size and habit, moisture retention, air circulation, finish time (time it takes plant to reach sellable size), price of young plant material, labor, square footage of bench/floorspace, supply and demand, and a bunch more fun stuff. That’s why we avoid 6-packs or smaller potted bedding plants: yes, they are cheaper, but you sacrifice root space, moisture retention and proper air circulation during the most critical growth period in the plant’s life cycle, leading to nutritional deficiency, stunted growth and inconsistent flower production. We do try to offer some of our perennials in both 6" and 4" sizes (the 4" pots being our younger generation), so that folks can purchase them at highly competitive prices.
When does the sale start? (Our most frequent question, typically asked during a sale:-)
There is almost always a sale going on at Painters - our official 'sale season' starts around mid-April, but keep an eye open for our special events in March and early April, as they typically feature special deals as well. Watch our Calendar page for sales and events, and sign up for our newsletter on the Homepage if you want reminders and more details. In the past, with each new sale, more items were reduced and prices continually decreased until our final clearance/blowout sale at the end of the season (June). We plan on basing our sales more on inventory in the future to avoid waste, so it may be best to grab what you want during a sale before we sell out rather than assuming it will continue to decrease in price and still be available in a few weeks. We will of course continue to have our famous end of season 'blow-out' sale!
Do you have any other discounts such as veteran, senior citizen or non-profit?
We offer a 10% Military Discount to all active duty, reserve and retired military personnel (valid U.S. Military I.D. required at time of purchase). Unfortunately, if we offered further discounts to senior citizens, that would probably account for 80% of our customer base and we might go bankrupt. :-)
This season, all customers qualify for 15% off after spending $500 for the rest of that season (we raised it from 10% in response to the uncertainty of the times - we need to get these plants to good homes!). We now have Reward Cards to help you (and us) keep track and get an alert once you hit the $500 mark. We also offer discounts to non profits - if you bring your 501(c) verification then we can offer you 15% off of your order regardless of total (and we often are able to donate a portion also). We donate to up to 100 different nonprofits and charitable ventures each season!
At the end of the season we have a Non-Profit Day when we invite qualified folks to come load up on our leftover plants for free. In the past, this has been a first-come/first-serve situation, but we've decided to amend it slightly. We would like to ensure that all food pantries, school and group home gardens who apply get plants, so anyone who contacts us from one of these will definitely be admitted. For all other nonprofits, we invite you to apply for the donation day and we will have a lottery, pulling a select number each season. We will likely have enough plants to serve most who apply, but you may want to grab some items during our June closeout pricing just in case. (Make sure to send us an email if you want to be on this list.)
The plant I purchased from you appears to be dead. What is your return policy?
We want all of our customers to be happy with their Painters purchases. If you have an issue with a Painters plant, please give us a call or email us with a description of the problem. While we do not have a 100% return/refund policy, we typically offer an exchange of equal value if the plant has died within the season purchased. Exchanges will not be honored if the plant was obviously neglected (e.g. dried out or burned) or if it shows signs of pest or disease acquired after purchase (if a plant is returned because a vole ate the roots, we obviously know the issue didn't originate at Painters). For plants that fail to overwinter, we typically do not offer exchanges or refunds unless there were signs of declining health in the 5+ warmer months after purchase. If a plant simply died due to a harsh winter, we do not offer a refund/exchange. Certain species such as Rhododendron, Mountain Laurel and Azaleas have a much lower likelihood of overwintering success in years 1-3, so there is always some risk associated with planting them (1 in 4 is likely to fail). We grow most of our own plants, so we cannot offer the same blanket refund policy as most garden centers who have their shrubs and trees supplied (and replaced) by large-scale nursery companies.
What forms of payment do you accept?
Other than in emergency cases or when our power goes out, we do not accept checks. We have had to make this policy because of the risk of bouncing checks as well as the significant time involved in prepping bank deposits when checks are involved. Even if we know you or you are frequent customer, we ask that you come prepared with a card or cash - it will definitely help us out! We accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, Debit cards or Tap & Pay in addition to cash.
Do you hold plants? Can I call and pay ahead to assure a hold? Do you deliver plants?
We unfortunately do not have the means to hold or deliver plants. All plants are sold directly on site - first come, first serve! Those of you who are regulars probably understand why - things can get a tad busy, and even if we could make the space for holds, there have been many occurrences of desperate plant lovers taking items from areas 'off limits'!
I drove all the way from _________ to get here and you don’t have _______ even though it's on your posted Availability List?! Gahhhhh!
While we have 1,500+ varieties listed on our availability, keep in mind that they may not all be available at the same time. As stated on our Availability page, our list is meant to represent what we have planned for the entire season. Certain crops require longer growth periods, prefer the warmer months, etc., so it is best to email or call ahead to ensure that your desired plants are currently ready for sale. We may also have a crop failure. Occasionally, an entire inventory can disappear in a matter of hours, (especially during a sale), therefore if you contact us to ask about a particular plant, we recommend coming that same day. We are very proud to grow and sell our own plants, but this means we are limited by our inventory for the year, particularly with herbaceous perennials. With the exception of some shrubs and trees grown by a local nursery, we cannot ship in more plants next week. Some annuals, veggies and herbs are grown in multiple successive plantings, so we often have more soon to be ready.
Why are parts of your sales floor off limits?
It is very challenging to grow and maintain such a wide variety of plant crops at peak performance in our limited space, and therefore much of our retail area is also our growing space. As a result, you may sometimes find aisles marked as off-limits or plants labeled ‘not ready for sale’ because they still need time to become fully rooted and ready for transplanting. (Most retail garden centers ship in fully mature plants from elsewhere, which means they have more freedom with their retail area and layout.) We also have a permanent stock and propagation aisle that is always off-limits; please respect the signage and yellow tape.
Can my dog shop with me?
We have learned over the years that having multiple dogs in a greenhouse retail area is not ideal for several reasons - there have been doggie confrontations, loud barking, 'accidents' in the walkways, damaged plants, bitten or scared children, and very overheated and stressed out dogs. Because we've had a lot of folks frustrated by this policy, we briefly considered creating an area for tying dogs in the shade by our parking area. However, we realized most folks wouldn't want to leave their pets out of sight, and also that we couldn't take on the liability of a bunch of dogs unattended (risk of kids being hurt, pets getting loose, or pets being stolen).
Please understand that even if you have a small, easily contained dog, it isn't fair for us to allow some dogs on the grounds while excluding others (and small dogs can still be disruptive). From now on, the only dogs permitted within the shopping area are Service Animals that have been specifically trained to help a person with a disability. This does not include Therapy Dogs or emotional support animals. (If you are unsure of the differences, please view the details of the Americans with Disabilities Act at www.ada.gov.) We hope you can understand our reasoning - please know that we are avid animal lovers!
Do you carry a plant that blooms January to December, requires zero maintenance, comes back every year, tolerates complete shade and full sun, gets real big real quick and glows in the dark?
Sadly, no. But you can always check with Lowes:-)
Can I smoke my cigarette, cigar or vape in the parking lot?
We ask that all customers and staff respect our no smoking policy, including all areas of the property. While the policy was made in part for the protection and comfort of people, it is especially critical to the health of our plants. Tobacco and nicotine both have the potential to cause serious damage to plants, including the deadly Tobacco Mosaic Virus. We ask that everyone respects the need for us to protect our product, and if you have recently smoked, please avoid excessive touching of plants. This may seem extreme, but we once lost thousands of petunias to this virus, so it's no joke! We thank you for your understanding and compliance with this necessary Painters policy.