12/28/11 - please see update at end of post!
The Landreth Seed Company is in my home state of Pennsylvania, and has been in business since 1784. For all these years, this company has been purveying heirloom seeds, and now sells books, bulbs, cool gardening products, and seed sets to help home gardeners put good, wholesome food on their tables. Additionally, Landreth has one of the most beautiful seed catalogs, drawing on their history with gorgeous illustrations and lots of information.
Earlier this year, they let it be known that the economy was taking its toll on the company. They put out the call, asking people to purchase these beautiful color catalogs for $5 each and they were inundated with orders. They aren't just catalogs, by the way. They are magnificent publications filled with information and historical details about the seeds, plants, and gardening techniques. All was going swimmingly until their credit card processor decided there was money to be made. The story is here.
Please take a moment to read it.
This story hits home for me from many directions. To begin with, I love that they continue publishing this lush, delightful printed catalog. I know how hard it is to do that, knowing that it is what people love (to hold it in their hands, carry it with them, mark off what they'd like, smell the paper and ink...) while it would be so much easier to publish it on-line. They have it printed locally by a family owned printer - just like we do here at TEH.
Secondly, I have immense respect for the way they chose to raise money to keep the company going. If you've been a subscriber or been around for a while, you might know that although this is our 10th year of publication, there were several years in the beginning where there wasn't a thin dime of profit and I didn't draw pay at all. So now, I get a little "twitchy" when I see people asking for donations because they'd like to start a business, improve their business equipment, take a trip, or live their dream - as if we wouldn't all like those things, but theirs is more important. Business is hard and this is a business. If the business couldn't cut it, then it really isn't a business. Landreth did put up a fund-raising link, and I imagine that was a difficult thing for them to do. More than anything, they asked people to consider ordering their catalog. You have to respect that. They didn't mismanage funds or over-borrow. They just ran into the economy during their fourth century in business.
Thirdly, I also recently found that my own processor was grossly overcharging me. After the fact, they offered to do better to keep me, but there was absolutely no way I would do business with them any longer. I don't take advantage of my customers until they "figure it out", so why would I reward someone who did that to me as their customer?
Now, although Landreth has been robbed by their credit card company, who has arbitrarily decided to hold up to $50,000 for some undetermined amount of time, they are not asking for donations. They're asking people to share the catalogs with friends in the hopes that people will order seeds.
If you are someone who doesn't understand what the Occupy Movement is about, this story might help you.
I know where all of my garden seeds are coming from this year.
And I will send the order through the mail and pay with a check.
From the Landreth Seeds Facebook page today: "