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What is the Difference Between WHOLESALE and RETAIL sales? Especially when it Comes to a PLANT Nursery?

We were recently told that the county assumed we wanted to get the CUP in order to do retail plant sales. This caused us to be confused because when the complaints were made by the neighbor, we were only hosting very private plant fundraisers. In fact on the day the county caseworker made a personal appearance and tried to fit us in a retail setting she asked, do you purchase the plants you sell. Ken said, " I have been because we just finished the greenhouse so you have to buy the stock you will grow" She insisted if we did not start from SEED that we were doing retail sales.

We told her on this very day over one year ago that we were growing plants using turtle wastewater. But we knew it would take us six months to get enough plants to propagate from. After that, we would not purchase any at any time. Of course, this was before needing to sell more plants because we were spending over ten thousand dollars fighting the CUP. Since this time, we now do both. We cultivate the major part of what we sell. But we do purchase from nurseries that might be closing down, failing, or are a distributor.

This is February 2018. These are our very first succulents we propagated by separation.

We were pretty proud of ourselves because as you can see, we were able to recycle turtle waste water from the enclosures seen along the perimeter in this greenhouse.

We were very clear on this day about this. Turtle wastewater… recycling. Agriculture we told her. We said succulents and cactus do not start from seeds but cuttings and separation. But she insisted unless it was from seeds.

So on this day, she manipulated us into thinking we were a retail establishment. She then handed us a stack of papers from other huge facilities with tigers and bears and lions. She asked us to conform our application to look more like these facilities.

This has caused me to wonder why the county said we are wanting to do retail sales.

We have NEVER made a dollar doing an animal experience. We never have charged for any time we have allowed people to have with us regarding plant or animal education.

Also, plant and animal sales are allowed because we are located in an agriculture zone in which we were talking to our agriculture inspector about what it would take to apply for agriculture exemption at the time of the complaint. Click to read the code violation that came after the neighbor complaint.

Click to read where we were in January 2019 with the CUP aka Conditional Use Permit.

Wholesale and retail are two distribution arrangement that constitutes a major part of the supply chain.

When the goods are manufactured, they are sold in large quantities. Then wholesalers sell them to the retailers who finally sells them to the ultimate customers.

Wholesalers do not have to create the items they sell. Most buy a large number of products directly from distributors.

High-volume purchase orders typically improve a wholesaler’s buying power. Many distributors provide discounts for a certain number of items purchased or the total amount spent on merchandise.

Wholesalers acquire all types of merchandise, ranging from phones, televisions, and computers to bicycles, clothing, furniture, and plants. The goods are frequently destined for retailers that can be either brick-and-mortar stores or online e-commerce enterprises.

Retailers consist of for-profit businesses that sell products directly to consumers. To realize a profit, retailers search for products that coincide with their business objectives and find suppliers with the most competitive pricing.

Generally, a retailer can buy small quantities of an item from a distributor or a wholesaler.

For instance, a retail merchant who wanted to purchase a dozen lamps could contact lighting distributors to inquire about pricing. Same as the wedding and event coordinators we meet on the regular basis.

At the time of this county issue, we were only hosting fundraisers. It was due to the counties manipulation that we were forced into paying for a second company that would be a for profit company. They had us convinced we we going to have to think larger than we wanted in order to be successful at the Conditional Use hearing.

Definition of Wholesale
Wholesale refers to the selling of goods to customers like retailers, industries, and others in bulk, at a low price. It is a type of business in which goods are being purchased from the producers by the wholesaler in big lots, and then the bulk is split into comparatively smaller lots. Finally, they are repacked and resold to the other parties.

Wholesalers do not pay much attention to the location of the shop and its appearance, and display of goods because they sell only a specific type of items, and their customers are generally retailers or other businesses who purchase the goods for the purpose of resale. These things do not matter to them at all.

In wholesale business, the wholesaler gives more emphasis on the number of goods, not on the quality. For starting a wholesale business, there is a huge capital requirement as the business size is large. It does not require any publicity or advertisement.

However, the customers of wholesale business are spread in various cities, towns or even in different states.

Most goods are sold on credit to the customers of the wholesale business. The price of purchased on wholesale is lower as it consists of less profit margin.

Definition of Retail
Retail means selling goods in small lots ONLY.

When the goods are sold to the final customer, for consumption and not for the purpose of resale, in small quantities, then this business type is known as Retail. Retailers are the middleman between wholesalers and customers. They purchase goods from wholesalers in bulk and sells them to the ultimate consumer in small lots.

The prices of goods purchased in retail are relatively high. The first and foremost reason behind this is the advertisement cost, and the profit margin is high.

Moreover, they include other expenses in the price of goods on a proportionate basis, like the rent of premises, salary to the workers, electricity expenses, etc.

Due to extreme competition, it is quite difficult to retain customers for a long time, so the retailer should know the techniques of handling different kinds of customers. In this way, the shop location, the appearance of the shop, goods displayed, quality of products and service provided is given much importance because it leaves an impact on the customer’s mind.

Moreover, the goodwill of the retailer depends on these parameters. By virtue of this, the retail business person always goes with quality products. They reject defective or inferior quality products and pick the best one.

Key Differences Between Wholesale and Retail
Wholesale means the sale of goods in voluminous quantity, at a low price. The business of selling goods to end consumers in small lots at a profit is known as Retail. Wholesale creates a link between the manufacturer and retailer whereas Retail creates a link between wholesaler and customer.

The prices of goods purchased in retail are relatively high. The first and foremost reason behind this is the advertisement cost, and the profit margin is high.

Moreover, they include other expenses in the price of goods on a proportionate basis, like the rent of premises, salary to the workers, electricity expenses, etc.

The size of wholesale business is larger than a retail business.
In the retail business, the retail shopkeeper can choose the goods freely which is not possible in wholesale business because the goods are to be purchased in bulk. In the wholesale business, the capital requirement is higher than in the retail business.

The location is of utmost importance in retail, but in wholesale, the location does not matter at all.

While selling the goods in retail the appearance of the shop and the display of items should be good to attract more and more customers. However, in wholesale, there is no such kind of need.

There is no requirement of advertising in wholesale but retail business requires advertising to grab the attention of customers.

The main difference between wholesale plant nurseries and retail nurseries is that the wholesale nurseries don’t need to bother with retail marketing.

We lack the fancy boutiques that sell aromatherapy candles made from recycled plastic grocery bags, greeting cards made from recycled tires, and popular magazines.

We also lack the happy and pretty sales staff needed to sell plants at somewhat inflated prices. Wholesale facilities are basic but functional. Plant material is most often lined out in production fields instead of on display.

Ken upset more than a few people when they realized he does not wear a shirt around the nursery. Because we are working the nursery. And it is HOT!

Some wholesale nurseries are happy to bring in plant material that was grown somewhere else to make it available to landscapers and perhaps a few small retail nurseries.

These nurseries are mostly in or near suburban areas where land is too expensive for those who need many acres to grow plant material, but the plant material is needed by so many landscapers who work in the surrounding urban areas.

Our signs shown are not proper for a retail establishment. And are only used because GPS is so bad about getting people lost.

Although they might be in town, they’re not much to look at from outside, since they don’t need or want to attract a retail crowd.

These nurseries often grow at least a bit of the plant material they market. They like to get good deals on overgrown or cheap surplus plants from their suppliers and transplant them into larger sizes to sell later.

Larger wholesale nurseries with plenty of space do less stocking of plants grown elsewhere and more growing. Most grow all the plants that they sell. Really, who wants to sell someone else’s goodies? Some specialize in crops that have similar cultural requirements, such as citrus and citrus and more citrus, or rhododendrons and rhododendrons and some azaleas (which are really just small rhododendrons). Others grow all sorts of plants that are in demand by retail nurseries and landscapers. We grow succulents and hibiscus because our animals need it anyways.

“Factory” growers are the biggest types of the wholesale nursery. They typically grow cheap and sometimes inferior landscape material for the cheap garden centers in big box stores.

These plants have faster turnover than the specialty crops like citrus and rhododendrons, so they’re the most profitable. Jobs here pay slightly more and include better benefits.

However, factory work is not nearly as much fun as growing better-quality plants or the specialty crops that factory growers don’t bother with. So take your pick from fun or money. It’s just as it sounds…”factory.”

Money, power, fame, and glory are uncommon in wholesale nurseries. This work is unglamorous, demanding, dirty, and…well, you get the point. The bottom line is that we do this work because we love it.

Believe it or not, this gig really does have certain advantages that aren’t obvious to outsiders. One of the main advantages is that stress is about as uncommon as money, power, fame, and glory. The work can be stressful upon occasion, but most of the time, it doesn’t cause too much anxiety.

In Lake County Florida a COMMERCIAL PLANT NURSERY OPERATION: Click to read.

  1. Plant nurseries are recommended to be at least 1 acre. Best Management Practices should be followed.
  2. A State Nursery Registration Certificate and Occupational license are required and copies must be submitted with the application.
  3. Only acres actually used for the nursery and service area will be considered a “bona fide” agricultural use.
  4. List of the type of plants grown in the nurseries must be submitted with the application.
  5. Receipts from the sale of stock and expenses incurred from the Ag operation will be required upon request.
  6. An Agricultural Business Plan should be furnished with the application. ‘
  7. A copy of any licenses, permits, or agricultural certificates required by federal, state, or local governments should be submitted.

This is our post from February 2018.


  1. As you mentioned, wholesale means buying large quantities of items for a lower price. My brother recently purchased a home with quite a large yard that doesn’t have any landscaping. Maye buying a few things wholesale would be the way for him to go.

    1. Saving money is always a great thing. Your brother has to register his company with the state of Florida in order to get a resale certificate to qualify to purchase at most wholesale nurseries.

      We sell at wholesale prices because we actually pay the sales tax out of our pocket so our customers always pay the lowest possible price.

      Good luck with all that planting!

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