I think that I have tried to grow just about every variety of every garden vegetable commonly on the market. Yes, I try new ones now and then, but I have been doing that for fifty years and by now I know what I want and want what I know. This is particularly true of muskmelons. I have tried the old heirloom varieties. I have tried the very latest varieties. I like them all but my very favorite is Burpee Hybrid and I aim to keep on eating this variety as long as I can afford to. And thatвЂ™s the point.
Time was when mail order garden seeds were rather inexpensive. Not so anymore. One of my favorite tooth-grinders is the way economists tell us that we have inflation in check. Economists must not garden. Garden seeds have been going up steadily even during recessions. I suppose there is some sense to that since in a recession, thereвЂ™s often more demand for garden seeds. Nevertheless seeds, and among the companies I order from, especially Burpee seeds, seem to go up all the time but in small increments so that hopefully, the customer hardly notices. Twenty cents a packet becomes two dollars in ten years while the number of seeds per packet keeps going down. $en$ational new varieties of course cost more.
IвЂ™m not really meaning to find fault with seed prices, as this story will show. What bothers me is the way seed companies charge for handling. I open my trusty Burpee catalog this year and decide the only thing I really want from it is Burpee Hybrid muskmelon. Price: $2.95 a packet, plus my 44 cent stamp to send in the order, or $3.39. For 30 seeds.
Then I get out the order form and find that the shipping and handling charge for orders under ten dollars is $4.95. To get those 30 seeds by mail, it is going to cost me $8.34, that is, a little over 27 cents per seed. Before I can blow a fuse, my wife says there is an alternative. Our вЂњlocalвЂќ Wal-Mart carries Burpee seed, she says. Everything is cheaper at Wal-Mart, right?
So out to the store we go, and sure enough thereвЂ™s a huge display of Burpee seeds there. I am gloating as I run my eye over the hundreds of packets priced about the same as in the catalog. I have found a way to beat the system. Hmmmm. I run my eye over the seed display again. And then again. I begin to get a pain deep in my gut. Sure enough. Hundreds of Burpee seeds but not one confounded packet of Burpee Hybrid muskmelon. I stage a scene. My wife says she will never go into any store with me again. Once more, the great Wal-Mart, which has everything, did not have what I wanted and at the top of my voice, I let everyone in the store know it.
I am now convinced of a theory thatвЂ™s been in my mind for about a year. Modern technology has made it simplicity itself to buy stuff. Catalogs by the zillions. Online with a computer by the gadzillions. Noooooooooooo problem.
Well, there is a problem. Someone has to cart all that stuff to your door.
I predict that the big box stores and the little box stores are going to survive just fine in the years ahead. It will always be cheaper to drive a truck load of seeds or whatever to a neighborhood store rather than drive a truck to each and every customer in that neighborhood.
Burpee will probably still know that there are people as looney as I am who want Burpee Hybrid muskmelon enough to pay a dollar a seed if necessary to get it through the mail. At least until this richest country in the world can no longer afford a postal service.
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