How to - Seeds

The business of seed catalogues

A look beyond the pages of seed catalogues and their journey to your mailbox

Despite the seemingly limitless plant resources available through the Internet, nothing compares to curling up with a flower-filled seed catalogue. And gardeners aren’t alone: a recent Canada Post survey found that 70 per cent of respondents prefer printed cata­logues, even though 30 to 40 per cent of orders are placed online. We use catalogues to plan and fantasize—but have you ever wondered how they arrive at your front door?

According to John Barrett, director of sales, marketing and development for Veseys Ltd. of Charlottetown, its catalogues are created in-house and sent to an Ontario printing company that also addresses and ships them.

Veseys sends out four major catalogue mailings each year, with separate mailings for its Mantis Tiller and Compost Twin (a tool and garden supplies catalogue is included with every order). The catalogues—two million annually—ship to existing customers; additional requests are then shipped from a mailing house in Halifax.

Pam Dangelmaier, co-owner of Botanus, Inc. (which ships 60,000 to 70,000 catalogues per year), explains that a catalogue isn’t just about sales: it’s a way of being acces­sible and accountable to customers. “It’s a reference tool,” she says. “We fill it with as much information as we can.”

But beware—not all catalogues are created equal. Both Barrett and Dangelmaier know of companies that use doctored images to sell products that can’t possibly measure up to what you see on the page. (For example, all-black tulips: “No such tulip exists,” says Barrett.)


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