Burpee Seeds and WalMart?

exmarFebruary 4, 2012

Hi Folks,

Put a post here the other day about Walmart has veggie seeds now, which is very early for this area. Can't find the post now....:-)

Anyway, went there yesterday and stocked up on spinach, lettuce and other cold season crops, also Blue Lake Bush Beans as that's one of our favorites.

The interesting thing was the price, $.98 to $1.48 packet for BURPEE seeds packed for 2012? The packets seemed smaller, so I just checked. I paid $.98 for 28g of bean seeds, the Burpee site has the same seed for $3.95 for 2 ounces, the 28g is just under one ounce, so it's half the price and no S&H? OK, gotta pay sales tax.

I am in no way "shilling" for WallyWorld, don't like them at all. However, being in a small town, have to go there occasiionally to buy stuff rather than drive a couple of hours to a larger area where there's other choices.

Just sharing some info, not really sure what it means, but Burpee is good stuff and the price is very low, particuarly for this year.


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If I were in Ohio or nearby state I'd be ordering my beans from Rupp, Waussen, OH. Most of their bean varieties, including Blue Lake 274 are under $4 per pound and under $3 if you buy 5#, etc.

My feeling regarding Burpee seeds at the box store racks is that every variety that I want from their catelog can't be found anywhere on the rack. Coincidence??

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 12:35PM
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I think it's rather sleazy of Burpee to charge such ridiculous prices in the catalog -- many packets are $3.95 and $4.95 -- and offer some of the same things for half the price or less at retail outlets.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 12:53PM
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The pricing reflects Walmarts' ability to buy in huge quantities, that is precisely how their business model works. Though I wouldn't buy there either, for most home gardeners a standard rack-size packet is plenty of seed. When buying seed in bulk, the price drops substantially, but shipping costs increase. Walmart is effectively buying in bulk, but they are buying bulk quantities in retail-sized packaging. Burpee is a large and fairly reputable seed purveyor - I don't use them, for reasons similar to the ones that prevent me from shopping at Walmart - but they likely will find that Walmart is a good outlet for their product precisely because it is more convenient and immediate than mail order, and greatly reduces shipping costs.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 12:54PM
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Again, just stumbled on some "garden variety" (pun intended) reputable seed at a very good price. If it fits your planting requirements enjoy the discount.

Coincidentally, the mail just arrived and my wife got a couple of packs of flower seeds she'd ordered from Burpee. Included therein was a $10 gift certificate. The fine print goes on to say that "On a $50 order, not including, tax, shipping, and handling."

bmoser, agree with you on Rupp, however, there are only two of us now and a packet (or two at WallyWorld :-) ) gives us plenty to eat in season and freeze for the year.

In over 50 years of gardening have gone the gamut from ordering the unique to try, trading varietals, etc. etc. TAking apart the hot beds this year, don't use them anymore. Now, we just plant what we enjoy and eat. my wife orders some flower seeds, I only order San Marzano and broccoli rabe seeds as they aren't available locally. We have an "arrangement" with a neighbor who has a greenhouse, I give her seeds, she then sells back the finished plants at what she usually charges. I pick the varietals and don't have the hasssle.

Be well,


    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 2:00PM
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My local Walmart has Seeds of Change seed on a rack and also Ferry Morse. I was pleasantly surprised by the S.O.C. selections.

DarJones in North Alabama

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 3:28PM
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I find the presence of Seeds of Change at Walmart pleasantly surprising too, but with the ballooning interest in organic growing it makes sense that they would jump on that bandwagon.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 3:55PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

I have to suck it in sometimes and buy from Walmart. I need to save money any way I can!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 5:08PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

I just want to echo that the price difference is due to Walmart's buying power. If you look, you find find their bedding plants cost less than the same plants at a small local grower's also, though often in correspondingly less prime shape. WARNING: I'm going to yammer on a bit here because I find this stuff rather fascinating. If you find it boring or tedious, I'm sorry.

Basically, Walmart is a large, guaranteed sale. Which is to say that Burpee or whoever is going to sell them a VERY large amount of product. Burpee is willing then to drop the price at which they sell it because they are then not carrying the burden of the portion that remains unsold. Well, that's my understanding of it anyway, or a simplified version. Burpee is not trying to scam anyone. (At least, I don't think they are.) As for the shipping and handling, there's less of both when large lots go to a centralized location and the customer does some portion of the work (and pays some of the fuel) themselves. It's all sort of intricate like a garden, but with goods and money instead of plants and water. Ok, done now, sorry if I bored anyone.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 5:19PM
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I don't mind paying less for less seeds. It is disappointing to not find the variety I'm looking for tho.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 5:43PM
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sunnibel...it's pretty much spot on.

Also, growers for "Big Box" stores (especially for annuals) tend to run greenhouse operations that are really hard to comprehend unless you're in there.

Here's a non-Walmart mega-store grower in NC.

These poinsettias live their entire life on a very very very long moving ceiling runway without a human ever touching them

Here's the first time a human touches them

Here's some non-hanging-basket container poinsettias. They're settled in huge sunken areas and bottom watered via flooding. These are "ready to go" and are in a sorting area.

They also grow pansies.

...volume, volume, volume.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 6:05PM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

The Seeds of Change seeds I found at my local Walmart were junk varieties at least for this locale. I used to be able to get almost all their varieties at a locally owned nursery but this year they dropped them.....wanna bet Walmart wanted an exclusive. The upside is the local nursery now has Baker Creek seeds.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 7:50PM
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@nc-crn, that is just astounding, and all to grow plants that likely will be discarded after a season, and feed no-one. I'll never be convinced we don't have the ability to feed the hungry as long as we're devoting so much time, space, and effort to what is in fact a horticultural novelty, using technology and artifice to get decorative plants to do something completely unnatural and impractical. Guess it feeds the owners and employees of the greenhouse, though, and probably quite well.

@shebear - why do you say "junk varieties"? Inappropriate for that climate, or do you think Seeds of Change is dumping their less popular products at Walmart?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 9:55PM
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Not clear how much zone differentiation there is in their seed racks, Bill. Certainly I can see some varieties here at HD or Lowe which would be best planted much farther south (e.g. main season okra, cowpeas). If they get regular tomatoes, or, say, fennel or fava in Central Texas, that might be correctly considered junk.

I usually top up my seed selection in big box stores, by the way. Specially vegetables with a relatively small number of variety. I have basil, parsley, chard, cherry tomatoes, purple top turnips, beet and collard from Lowe/HD. I will pick up oakleaf lettuce when I see it. With my large vegetable garden now having three families on it (we were two last year), no need to fuss until we find again a veggie consensus.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 10:22PM
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the seed are cheap in Walmart and other box story because they lose leaders. which means they have low prices on seed to encourage you to buy other related supplies. same way low prices on turkeys for thanksgiving when you buy other related goods.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 11:57PM
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The big box stores in general are pretty bad in keeping things appropriate to the location. Every year, they get those god-awful little sad sticks in boxes brought in during February, when we have 2 1/2 months before it would be safe to plant them out here in Michigan. And invariably, they have cultivars like Thompson Seedless grapes that can't possibly survive here. I've also seen other gems like rabbiteye blueberries, fuzzy kiwi, etc. Mind you, as someone willing to try via "extraordinary techniques" to overwinter out of zone plants, I find it interesting, but its bad and deceptive for the novice who doesn't know the difference.

As far as the enormous operations that supply plants for the big-box stores, I find it fascinating that they have such complex systems set up, yet can't manage to find enough people to unload, unpack, water, and properly care for these plants once they arrive at your local Wal-mart, Home Depot, Lowe's,, etc. I always wondered how they made ANY profit at all, given the high cost of inputs such as energy, when they are all paid essentially on commission under these pay-by-scanned-sales programs, and so much of the plant material dies in the retail outlet due to abuse, neglect, and just plain market saturation beyond all reasonable ability to sell it all. But, they must, or it wouldn't happen.

I guess the good side -- some of these places, particularly Lowe's, are pretty good about marking things down dramatically to move them -- I get good bargains on things all the time. Best was a few years back at the end of season at my local Home Depot, when they got down to the "everything in small pots is $0.50, everything in medium pots is $1, and everything larger is $2" by Halloween -- I ended up getting several cartloads of nice nursery stock for next to nothing -- Buddleia, crabapples, maples, all kinds of things. Best was a grafted dwarf mounding blue spruce, original price $80, for $2.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 7:05AM
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